Monday, September 7, 2015

Visual Context

Kathleen Turner - From the 1981 movie "Body Heat"

It is amazing how much our hearing and sight work together.  We hear something and the put into context once we see it.  In WEB design we are taught that visuals help you to communicate a message in detail, without having to write an essay on it.  The old - "A picture is worth a thousand words.”

But, what if what we are hearing does not match the visual?  All of us have some hesitancy about speaking, thinking our spoken voice may be too masculine - deep.  There are some that are – think radio voices and the bass-baritone that resonates in lower range. But still.......  

Here is an example of visual context that startled me about a year ago.  I was watching CNN and the talking head introduced one of their experts to provide depth to the subject being discussed. We have all seen it many times.  I was only half-paying attention but did hear the name to be female, i.e., Linda, Mary, Tiffany.   Not watching, I next hear a very deep somewhat masculine voice.  Now I am watching.

Yes, the voice did not match the visual.  But something strange started to occur.  The visual brought the voice into context.   The more I listened, the more I perceived the person speaking to be female - In spite of the voice resonate disconnect.   My mind had overruled the first impression.

I know there are many women that have deeper voices.  Kathleen Turner (Think the movie “Body Heat”), Debra Winger, Lauren Bacall, Angelina Jolie just to mention a few. 

So what is my point – When the visual works we do not need to hide our true voice.  Let people hear and then process what they see.  Falsetto is unnatural, artificial, and never works.  In my case my voice is not in a completely natural feminine range, but I am able make it work by just softening it and adding a slight feminine cadence.   Give it a try……

Being “confident” is our best outfit.   


  1. I think you are right about this. Visual perceptions inform the auditory perceptions. The challenge comes when the visual qualities are suspect (a less than convincing visual presentation). Then the voice may negatively reinforce questions about one's identity. Note: You obviously don't have to worry this situation.

  2. The visual is something we can ways work on and improve. Our voice is just there with only the ability make minor changes. But confidence tops them both.

    Trust me - We all have out insecurities and moments of "what have I gotten myself into and is this really working?"