Magazine article Modern Trader

Giving Traders a Voice in the Pits

Magazine article Modern Trader

Giving Traders a Voice in the Pits

Article excerpt

Giving traders a voice in the pits

A gravelly voice is a sure indicator of a floor trader who spends the day in a pit outscreaming other traders. It's akin to a football player's bad knees or a boxer's broken nose.

But some traders are taking lessons to avoid that fate. Manhattan vocal coach Jeffrey Jacobi, who studied at Juilliard and began by training actors, now counts business people as 75% to 85% of his clientele at Jacobi Voice Development. Among these are about 10 traders, whose complaints range from hoarseness and voice fatigue to actual nodes on the vocal chords from years of abuse.

In the raucous environment of the pits, where the loudest traders often get the spoils, a poorly functioning voice is a liability. To help these frustrated buyers and sellers, Jacobi focuses on a few main skills.

Learning loudness

"You have to learn how to avoid forcing the voice," he says, explaining how specific exercises can strengthen the voice as if it were any muscle.

Many traders, in their efforts to be heard, end up yelling, pushing the sound through a constricted, tense throat. This is wrong, Jacobi says.

"A forced sound does not project as well as a free sound," he says. "Most voices can't handle this abuse."

To achieve the relaxed, strong voice that will be heard at the other side of the crude oil ring, Jacobi has his students begin with simple, sustained sounds. He advocates prolonged humming, which enables traders to "feel the resonance in the voice. This is what gets it to project."

Humming also strengthens the upper body. …

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