Lie-detector, or polygraph, tests have come a long way since a police officer developed the first machine in 1921. Instead of strapping a suspect to a pulse-measuring machine to determine whether he’s lying, today’s voice stress analysis software can detect subtle changes, or microtremors, in a person’s voice without him even knowing his voice is being analyzed. Neither test is admissible in court, but failing a voice stress analysis can prevent you from getting a job in law enforcement or government. It may even affect your ability to file an insurance claim because many adjusters use computer voice stress analyzers (CVSA) to help prevent fraud. Consequently, the internet is brimming with tips on how to pass a voice stress test, but some suggestions are wiser than taking drugs to relax.
Beat a Voice Stress Analysis Two Smart Ways
Controlling how you speak without sounding like Siri will take some practice, so enlist your smartphone for help. Download the BioBeats’ Biobase app, a guided stress-management course that helps you to track, measure and manage stress. Like those hydration apps that remind users to drink a glass of water, it will prompt you to engage in a breathing exercise, monitor your heart rate and store the information like a Fitbit so you can track your progress. BioBeats follows the Papworth breathing technique which hospitals use to reduce patient stress. The idea is that slow, deep breaths stimulate the release of a feel-good hormone called oxytocin. Studies have shown this hormone reduces blood pressure, decreases the so-called stress hormone cortisol and promotes positive social interaction, which can help during a job interview.
To further remove stress from your voice, the University of Iowa’s Voice Academy website suggests sighing while yawning. This is a type of voice therapy that lowers the larynx, increases airspace between vocal cords and opens the throat for relaxed speaking.
Change Your Voice, Change Your Outcome
Remember, changing your voice will change how people see you. If you know you’ll have to pass a voice stress test to ace a job interview, try these as soon as you can beforehand:
- drink a lot of water
- sleep with a humidifier
- turn off the air conditioning
- avoid cigarette smoke and chemicals, like cleaning supplies
- suck on honey lozenges
- refrain from clearing your throat or coughing
- stop yelling, singing out of your range and talking in noisy environments that force you to speak louder
One Last Note About Passing Voice Stress Analysis Tests
Ultimately, the key to beating a voice stress test may lie in something your mother said when she scolded you for having a smart mouth as a child: It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.
To beat a voice stress analysis test, pay attention to how you sound in the days leading up to it. Refrain from straining your vocal cords and try breathing exercises to calm down.
- BBC News: The Curious Story of How the Lie Detector Came to Be
- The New York Times: It's the Way You Say It, Truth Be Told
- The University of Iowa: Time for a Vocal Stress Buster
- Cleveland.com: Bad Vocal Habits Take away the Power of Your Voice
- American Bar Association: The Computerized Voice Stress Analyzer
- PubMed: [Oxytocin, a mediator of anti-stress, well-being, social interaction, growth and healing]
- While VSA remains a controversial tool, the best way to satisfactorily complete a test is to remain truthful when responding to questions.
Miranda is a Cleveland-based content writer and magazine writer.