The Voice of a 911 Operator

By Dr. Miluna Fausch, HHCP, Ph.D., Public Speaking + Presentation Coach

I am always vocalizing about how important our Voice is. How we underestimate it. Take it for granted. How people don’t realize that a great Voice is normally built through proper training and coaching. Our Voices go so much deeper than just picking up the phone or speaking well in public.

In fact, this letter has nothing to do with speaking well in public, but was so touching and illustrative of the power of one Voice that I simply had to share it with you.

“Dear Dr. Miluna,

I thoroughly enjoyed your participation on the Shelley Hancock show. Your voice is so relaxing and encouraging. Your content was fascinating. I particularly liked learning about the physiology of the larynx.

I am interested in your offer of Nine Tips for Women to be heard. Please send me a copy of your writing.

I have an interesting story that I would like to share with you…

It supported your points that were made on the first interview with Shelley. I was hired as a 911 dispatcher. It involved extensive testing in which we had eight tests over a three-month period. Out of more than 500 applicants, six of us were selected. Out of six who were selected, five of us passed the remainder tests. During the last two weeks of training, the training supervisor took me aside and told me that I needed to do something different with my voice. She said that I was presenting as a secretary over the radio waves for the officers. It was not the voice of a dispatcher. I had two weeks to be able to change my delivery to be more professional, or I would not be able to continue as a dispatcher. I was not quite sure what she wanted. What does a dispatcher sound like? She was unable to give me specifics. She just stated I needed to sound more authoritative. She explained that the officers needed to be able to have confidence in my radio broadcast. Currently, they did not. I listened to some recordings of dispatchers. I was online listening to different female voices trying to determine what style was more authoritative. I have always been complimented on my voice, so this comment caused confusion. I realized that a deeper tone sounded more authoritative. We also had a 30-second window of time for particular emergency calls. The changes that I made to my tone was a deeper voice and faster pace in my wording. My training supervisor and the officers were very pleased with that change, and I was kept on as a 911 dispatcher. I learned firsthand the importance of making the right vocal presentation for the specific situation.

Thank you so much for the quality and interesting points that you have brought up. As an esthetician, I am more aware of how calming and confidant my voice needs to be.

I look forward to hearing you more.”

Thank you,

Mary D. in NYC

Imagine you are a person calling for emergency assistance, and hear a nervous or child-like Voice on the other end after connecting with 911. Would you feel confident that help is on the way? Or you are the EMT receiving the call from the 911 operator-wouldn’t you want a calm, clear-speaking, confident operator delivering the address and situation so you can go about saving lives? Of course.

Having a calm, lower pitched, steady Voice also works well with kids of differing abilities like those with Down’s syndrome, hyperactivity or Autism.