Marketing Mambo

Developing A Powerful Executive Voice with Coach Cynthia Zhai

November 29, 2021 Terry McDougall Season 1 Episode 49
Marketing Mambo
Developing A Powerful Executive Voice with Coach Cynthia Zhai
Show Notes Transcript

Cynthia Zhai is coach and founder of Powerful Executive Voice. Over the past 10 years, she has worked with professionals from 46 countries across 6 continents, supporting them to speak with a voice that reflects their inner power. 

She's spoken in 18 countries across 5 continents and was awarded one of the highest designations in the speaking industry, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), earned by only 12% of speakers worldwide. Cynthia was also the first woman in Singapore to be accredited by International Enneagram Association.

Cynthia was born and raised in China. Even though English was one of her majors and despite being an exchange student in the U.S., many people doubted that she could do voice training and coaching. She was rejected again and again by those she approached about partnering, yet she didn't allow that to discourage her. 

For the past 10 years, Cynthia has found much fulfillment helping her clients develop their full potential as speakers. She's also the author of Influence Through Voice published by McGraw Hill. She's done a TedX talk on the Transformative Power of Your Voice and spoken on international stages in Europe, the U.S.

Cynthia is a voice coach, professional speaker (CSP), and best-selling author of Influence Through Voice published by McGraw Hill. She’s also a TEDx speaker.

Cynthia has helped clients from 46 countries across 6 continents with their voices to speak with impact and conviction, engages and inspires people to embrace change and take action. Cynthia has been a professional speaker and coach for the past 18 years and her engagement spans 5 continents in 18 countries and regions such as USA, Finland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Egypt, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China, India, Brunei, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and The Philippines.

Cynthia has appeared in USA Discover Your Talent Show, Singapore Radio Program 938Live 4 times, Hong Kong Radio 3, and Malaysia Business Radio Station BFM as a guest speaker on the subject of Voice. She's a regular guest on podcast shows around the world.

Cynthia has spoken to more than 20,000 audience members across industries, from the world’s top MNCs as K & L Gates Washington D.C., Stanford University, Sofia University, Mercer, Google, HSBC, Procter & Gamble, to Government bodies as British High Commission Singapore, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, Singapore Air Force and more.

Cynthia’s website:

TEDx Talk:

"It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going.”  -- Brian Tracy


If you'd like to talk to Terry McDougall about coaching or being a guest on Marketing Mambo, here's how you can reach her:


Her book

Here's how you can reach host Terry McDougall:

Her book Winning the Game of Work is available at Amazon

Hey everybody. It's Terry with Marketing Mambo. Did you know that researchers have discovered that a lower pitched voice. Is associated with individuals who are more dominant, extroverted, and higher and socio sexuality than people with higher pitched voices. This goes for both men and women. So I find that super interesting and I'm sure that this is a fact that my guest today, Cynthia jive was very aware of. 

Cynthia is founder of powerful executive voice. She is a coach who helps people. Develop the kind of voice that reflects the authority that they want to express. In their professional lives. And like many people who are coaches, Cynthia came to coach on this topic because it was something that she needed to develop herself.  I think you're going to find that insights that she shares with us today to be. Very very interesting. So developing a strong professional voice is one of the skills that can help you win at work. 

And if you'd like more tips on what you need to do to win at work. My next suggest that you pick up my book, winning the game of work career happiness. And success on your own terms. It's available on Amazon worldwide. And now without further ado, let the Mambo begin.  

Hey everybody. It's Terry with marketing Mambo. Did you know that researchers have discovered. that a lower pitched voice is associate. with individuals who are more dominant, extroverted, and higher in socio sexuality. Then people with higher voices. This goes for men and women. So it's super interesting. And my guest today, Cynthia Zhai. 

Would be well aware of this? She is a coach that helps people develop more effective. Voices voices that people trust more. Voices that result. In more credibility. And she came to this because she found that she wasn't speaking up. Much. So. 

She found she. She wasn't coming across the way that she wanted to. So like so many of us, we end up. Coaching on the things that we need to learn ourselves. So I learned a ton from Cynthia. She comes to us from Singapore. And I'm going to. Cut to the chase and just jump right into today's episode. 

You know, if you know me, I am all about helping you have the advantages. That you need to get more out of life and out of your career. To not only be successful, but also to be happier. And I think Cynthia is going to help us with that. And also if you're finding that you're feeling stuck at work minus suggest that you go out and buy my book. 

Uh, winning the game of work career happiness and success on. Your own terms. Y toil away in a job. Just for the paycheck. Right. We all deserve to be happy. We all deserve to feel fulfilled and. Some of the. The tips in my book can help you do that. Some of the tips in my book can help you do that for less than 20. 20 bucks Yeah, So It might be the best investment That you ever make Now without further ado let the mambo begin

Hey there. It's Terry McDougall with marketing Mambo, and I'm very excited and honored to bring to you today. Cynthia Jai. She is an author TEDx speaker, voice coach and certified speaking professional. And she's coming to us today from Singapore. Welcome Cynthia, how are.

Hi, Terry, thank you for having me. I'm doing very well.

Would you mind giving us a little bit more of a deeper introduction into who you are and what you do?

Sure. So,  I am a voice coach and professional speaker. So as a voice coach, I help people to speak with a more powerful voice. Some of my male clients, they said, I want to have a voice. That sounds like Morgan Freeman. 

So I think that sums up what I do.

very good. Yes. Very commanding. Yeah. That's great. Well, how did you get into this line of work? It's so interesting.

You know, that we teach what we needed to learn the most. So I needed to learn how to speak with a more powerful voice so that I could be heard in my first job out of university. And I was not heard, I was not asserted. The main reason was that I was not assertive. So I was looking for different ways to become more assertive and in discovering more assertiveness, I discovered voice.

So that's where I benefit even more. I realized not only I sounded more confident, more powerful, but also I have felt more powerful and that planted a seed for the work that I am doing right now.

Yeah, that's a great, I mean, this is the second time that we've talked. I was on your podcast a few months ago, and there is something about your voice that is very rude. And I'm presuming that that's something that you've worked on to develop that because  there's a weight to it.

It's so interesting. And so I'd love to hear, about how you were able to do that for yourself, but also how you do that for others.

Sure. So, that's right. That is something that I have developed and that's why everyone can develop it too, because if I can do it then, so is everyone able to do it? When we develop the voice, we know that mind and body. And so most people, they think that, in order to become more confident, more powerful, I need to remove the mental blocks.

So that's one way of working on it. And the other way is  when we work in the body, for example, the power posts, right? So when we put ourselves in the power pose for two seconds, the hormone levels will be changed and the voice is somatic work. So when we work on the voice, we're working on the.

And when you change your voice or develop the full potential in your voice, he will help you to develop your mind, your mindset and make you become more powerful and more. Yeah. So that's one of the main ways that we do. But at the same time that I did notice some of my clients, they have mental blocks, I will be pointing out to them as well.

Whenever I noticed that.

Yeah. That's so interesting because I completely agree with you about that mind, body connection, and also about teaching the things that we need to learn, because I do find myself coaching on, topics that I had to struggle to learn. Right. That's what drew me to it because I don't want other people to suffer if  I've found the key.

To help him. Right.  I love that, you're pointing out that mind body connection because I also find that in my own coaching that people really, a lot of times will, separate their mind from their body, their body is trying to tell them something, they're feeling stressed.

They're maybe even feeling ill and yet they keep driving themselves at work. So hard. And you know, when we can bring the mind and body together, that's where we find that true wisdom. And,  it's very interesting about how the voice can be, maybe the result or, the consequence.


Yes. Yeah. It's so super, super interesting. You said that you were drawn to this because this was something that you needed to work on. What did you do to learn more about this and when you were first getting started, how did you get. To this.

Sure. So for the voice,  I was developing my speaking wars and I did Twain.  I did have 29 on the singing voice. So there are some similarities, like for example, breadth and how you use the breath, but there are also different. So for me, one of the things that was easier was the breathing. So the breathing was easier.

But for most of my clients, when they started working with me, we first work on the breathing because for most people that they fought breathing. The improper breeding. So you need to shift the breathing first to make it a proper. And when they've learned the proper reading and make proper reading a habit, that's where they will be laying the foundation for a more powerful.

So that would be the first step that,  people need to work on. And I was lucky that  I wasn't working on that first app because I had some,  training. And then after that, after the breathing, we would need to work on how you're going to use the breast project, the voice. Or how we're most people will say speak from the diaphragm, but the more accurate term is how to use the proper brass to propel your voice.

So that's the second step. And then after that, the third step would be now that you can use the proper ref, we want to also understand that voice in order to have a stronger voice is not by shouting is not by raising your right. Because raising your voice, you're actually using more effort on your vocal chords. And instead we want to have a bigger kind of like a bigger, musical insulin box to work. And the bigger musical instrument box is in the body. So we need to develop more, sound more vibration in the bigger box and where's more song, more vibration. Then the song will become not only stronger, but also the overall voice quality will be modulating as well.

So that's the three status that we need to go through to develop the voice.

That is so fascinating. And, as you were talking about that, I'm just thinking about, certain people, like you mentioned, Morgan Freeman, or James Earl Jones, these people that are known for these great voices or, people who have. Work in theater that can really project their voice.

And obviously they understand how to use their instrument. And just as you were describing that, it seemed to make sense, right? That it's a matter of how much breath goes over the vocal chords, I'm guessing, is how much the voice projects, rather than putting more stress on the vocal chords.

And,  it's really interesting when you were talking about learning how to breathe properly. And think that I've heard that most people just breathe too shallow like that they actually don't breathe deeply. And so a lot of times maybe  their body's not even getting enough oxygen.

So what would you say about, how people typically breathe and what advice you would have to help people learn how to breathe more effectively.

Yes. So there are two major problems in most people's breathing. One is of course, that people are not breathing properly, so not breathing properly. Meaning for example, if we ask our listeners or viewers to take a deep breath, And they probably would be doing in this way. And then the breathing is not proper.

So when we're doing the proper deep breath, the movement is not on the upper body. Instead, the movement will be more on the belly area. So we breathe in. You see if I take a deep breath in proper deep breath in. So my value will come up. The upper body will have no movement. And when I breathe out, the battery will go.

So it is like a balloon air goes in, balloon, inflates air goes out below a deflect.


the thing most people are not doing. And the other mistake that most people are making and more and more nowadays is that is not only not reading poverty, but also not breathing. 


So that's the second. So most people are holding the breath when they're speaking, holding the breasts, and this is how they sound. And at the end, then they have another problem, which what we call the vocal fry, like what I'm done is straight.

Yeah. That's it. That's an annoying habit. Um yeah. As you were talking about that, I was  practicing. It definitely feels different when you're breathing properly. Because it's, I was feeling exactly what you were describing that my chest was staying pretty, Stationary and my stomach.

And it feels different if you've never been taught to do that, which I've never done any voice lessons or had any training in this kind of thing that it definitely feels different, but it feels good. I don't know if you can speak to this or not, but when we are holding our breath,  I would imagine that that sends a message to the body because that's typically.

People and the animals do when they're being preyed upon, is that they hold their breath because there's there's fear or there's danger. And wonder if there isn't, some kind of hormonal thing that happens to the body when we hold our breath, when we're not oxygenating our entire body. Is that something that you can speak to.

I have not done research has on the app, but, from the theory, we can understand because when we are holding the breath, you see the breath is what makes everything flow. But if the breast is not flowing, then of course the body is in a state not moving. So when the body is not moving, then the hormones, they will receive the signal.

And probably these are stress hormones. Cortisol will go. And also for most people in the first place, why they're not breathing, why they're holding the breath is because of the stress. So their cortisol level is already high and they're still holding the rest even more than the cortisol level will go even higher.


Next, you get even more. Hmm.

Yeah, it's so interesting. And it is also interesting how, again, we sometimes think that like, whatever our mind is thinking like that our mind controls everything. And I've read some research that says that our gut and our gut biome actually reacts more quickly to stimulus than our brains do.

And so if we can get our body to do things that, that actually. Uh, fact, our minds, which is interesting. Right. I suppose that's also why, exercise is such a good thing because it gets people breathing. It gets the blood flowing. It gets the muscles, oxygenated from a hormonal standpoint can be really positive.

Well, so we've talked a little bit about this, but what are some of the other mistakes that you see people making as speakers?

 The other thing. Yes. I see a lot of people even happened to some actors. You will see that in those TV programs. So the problem is that in order to sound more confident, more credible now, for most people, they want to have a voice like Morgan Freeman, which has. So they want to have that deep voice.

And as a result, what they did was they purposely ignore that our voice so that they can sound more credible, more authoritative by why you are doing that. That is the wrong way of doing it because you are pressing your vocal chords down. And the volume is very weak. The voice is actually not coming out because when you press the vocal cords down, you're oppressing them.

So the voice is not coming up as a result, you sounded Dell, you sounded lack of energy. And imagine that people see you in the other occasions, they say how come that your voice is different than you don't have credibility anymore? So that's the other problem which has that purpose feel pressing the voice down to have a deeper voice.

So that's very damaging to the.

Yeah. Yeah. That's so interesting. Well, so you brought up Morgan Freeman a couple of times. What are some of the, role models that women come to you and say, oh, I want to sound like Oprah or I don't know, like who, um,

Oprah was the other one that 

people often talk about. 

yeah, she's got a very authoritative voice, very,  

solid and deep, it's

And you can also share, there are some warmth in her voice as well.

Yeah, that's so interesting. 

So that's, 

that's the female voice that was asked a lot. And then for me personally, I like, Louise hay, her voice

Oh yeah. well, I just like Louise hay anyway. I mean, she's no longer with us, but she's been such an inspiration. She's the founder of hay house for people that might not know, which is a. Self-help publishing company and she's brought a lot of really,  I think important people to the public, through her publishing company.

what is her. Best-selling book it's you can heal your life. That's right. 


And I mean, that's all about, paying attention to the body as well. And recognizing that a lot of times,  trauma  is held in the body.

And, do you find that sometimes that people have unresolved issues that affect their voice?


So that's the book I recommend the most to my clients.

So you can heal your body or you can heal your life, both books. 

Yes, It really is a great book. And it got me thinking very differently about the mind body connection and recognizing that, things that happen to us. A lot of times, we just think that once it's done, it's done. And a lot of times it really is sticking with us, actually, is trapped in our body and.


So, well, could you give us some, examples of situations that you faced and the transformations that your clients have gone through and working with you?

Sure. So, for example, last week I finished working with another. When she started working with me, she, uh, because of dependent. So we were all doing a lot of online meetings and most of the online meetings were recorded. So she happened to hear herself in one of the recordings. She said, oh my God, but this is how I spoke. 


And, in her words  that when she heard herself, she said, when I started talking, it was like someone was strangling me.


she realized she was sounding like, and of course that he doesn't sound confident. It doesn't sound calm. Both of these are objectives.


And then, we started to work on her voice and as she was progressing, she's still listens to her own recording.

That's also what I always suggest all my clients to do that listen to yourself. And she realized  I am Sunday more and more calm, even though she knew that she was never, she knew she was numbers, but the numbers ness was no longer showing up in the. And that's where she realized, I was making the progress.


And when we finished working together, she was also sharing another situation where she was very emotional. And in the past, whenever she was emotional, her voice peach will go high. But in that meeting, she would realize, even though she was very upset, very emotional, her voice was still sounding very grounded.


So she was impressed by herself.

Yeah. Was it really around,  just continuing to breathe or what were some of the things that she did to help her, overcome those habits? 

It was the restate. 

The three stages we were talking about. So one the S you have to make the breathing a habit to, as you need to learn, how to use the power breath for projection. So that state, I call production stage. So breathing projection, and the third stage is where we need to develop the cello in our body.

So that's the bigger box where you have the. Then you'll see that your whole body is projecting the voice. Even if your numbers, if you are emotional, your voice will not be changed and anymore because the whole body redacting the voice where in the past, it was only the throat up from the throat up project,

the voice it's very susceptible to any emotional change in our body.

Right. That makes sense. Yeah. A lot of times we even talk about it that when we're emotional, we feel our throat getting tight. Right. So that's so interesting. I also love that you described the body as a cello. love that because we're even are kind of shaped like cellos a little bit so interesting.

Well, I want to ask this other question. Do you work with people on developing, like Ted talks or keynote speeches or anything like that? Or is it just strictly on voice?

So the voice is the main. And over the years, because I'm also a professional speaker. So I was fortunate enough to speak in 18 countries across five continents. So because of that, so a lot of clients were also, learning about how to deliver speeches, including keynote speeches, TEDx speeches.

So I do help my clients, whoever needed to develop their TEDx. So right now I am working with one client,  to develop her TEDx speech because she said,  I don't want to, have the music staying in me when I die.

Yeah. Oh, I 

was, that.

was what she said.

Yes. She wants to share her wisdom and do it in an effective way. Right. That's great. Well, so I'd love to shift gears because when I was looking at your LinkedIn profile and we were chatting about this before I hit record that we both went through a transformational. Program called the Hoffman Institute. And, for people who are listening, it's  a week long retreat, which for me was really life-changing and  I'm gonna let you speak for your experience, but where you  go back and, re-examine your childhood. And think it's kind of like how you start reparenting yourself in a way and start living the life that you want to live.

But. To hear more about what your experience was at the Hoffman Institute.

Sure. So, the Hoffman process is about discovering the tile hood, how our childhood has shaped who we are. And, so in the beginning it was a mentor of mine. He recommended a process to make. So in the beginning, when I saw the process. And I was very upset with him. So after looking through the website, I was very upset with him.

I said, what you say, I have a problem,

Don't we all though.

but after discovering more on the website, I realized it's not that I have a problem, but we have many problems. I probably still have problems, but. The tile hood has a profound impact on who we are. For example, one of the things I discovered was why in the past, so I have worked  on this areas over the years.

One of the things that you was, the fear of visibility, So I had a fear of visibility, especially, for example, when I was younger, whenever I went to an event, I'll be very quiet sitting in the back. Didn't want to be noticed. And when I started my business, whenever I post something, so I posted something on social media, then I would disappear for a few days.

Just get more comfortable with that discomfort of being 


And discovering that a wisdom Hoffman process. I realize, it had to do with how I was brought up.


It was my survival strategy at home. And so by knowing that with the help of Hoffman and practice S so I started to become more comfortable with being visible and start to enjoy,  being visible as well.

 It's so interesting. And it's so aligned with what you do today, right? If you're a speaker you're on the stage and you probably wouldn't be very successful if you were a speaker and you wanted to hide. So it's so interesting. When I saw that,  I just thought, wow,  this is somebody who is serious about getting to  the root of, who you're meant to be, because really feel like there was a lot of.

Stuff lot of, beliefs that weren't serving me,  it was just gave me an opportunity to reframe a lot of things that I never had examined in my life. And, in some ways to, I think it's common to sometimes blame our parents. Hertz that we have, and to really begin to see our parents as children and as real people and to forgive.

And, I thought it was a fantastic experience, really life-changing experience. In fact, I came back and I was really. Like walking on clouds. My husband was like, wow, want to do whatever you did. I want to do. So he actually went a few months after I went, so it's really nice  to be married to someone who understands who went through it too.

Well, Cynthia. It's been really wonderful talking to you or getting here towards the end. So I'd love to give you an opportunity to let people know how they can, get in touch with you. If they'd like to learn more about using your services. If people feel like they're listening to some of the common mistakes people make and they're recognizing themselves and thinking, I want to sound like Morgan Freeman or like Oprah, or just a better version of myself, how do people get in touch with.

Sure there are a few ways,  the best one that they can go to YouTube, search Cynthia voice coach. There'll be able to find my channel. I have more than 200 videos on the channel

and. We have a 43,000 subscribers. So I welcome our listeners and viewers to become the next, so update videos, regularly.

So that's the best place. And then the second place of course, is they can go to a powerful executive powerful executive This is also the website that was suggested by the mentor who sent me to Hoffman process.

Okay. Well, yeah, and I love that. I love that name, I mean, it really gets to the heart of what you help people with. So any last words of wisdom before we close out this episode of marketing Mambo.

So the voice is powerful is not only just the tone, but because voice is vibration. So I really strongly encourage our listeners and viewers to discover the hidden potential in your voice. And, You'll will be amazed by how much once your voice is changed, how much change your experience mentally, emotionally, even spiritually.

So, that will be my final words, which is want really to discover the powering of voice.

Well, you have really inspired me. I'm going to go out and check out your Cynthia voice coach. Right? That's your YouTube channel, Cynthia voice coach. I'm going to check that out and, I know it's late in Singapore, so I want to thank you so much for staying up and talking to us here at marketing Mambo.

Thank you, Cynthia.

Thank you for having me.