Can’t help this post. I’m obsessed with all things voice. Listen to yourself – if you even suspect you might be a bit nasal – you will be! If you don’t care, I certainly don’t, but if you do care, then you can stop being nasal. Here is how to check if you are. Make a long, sustained, “eeeeeeeeeee” sound on any note that is comfortable and while you are doing that, squeeze and release both of your nostrils. If you sound like a siren, then you are nasal. Just thought I’d mention it.
It seems strange but there is an especially nice freedom/focus at being able to look at you with a sustained intimacy that isn’t threatening. My voice work operates just as well which has amazed me. What’s more, it’s a nice challenge for me as an educator because I have to be super clear in my instructions to you.
Here’s an exercise for you The Wallow in Vibrations Experience…….. 1) Hum on a a long, indulgent “m” sound with your lips gently closed. Feel where the vibrations fall. (You might like to touch your face lightly with your finger tips to increase the tactile nature of the sounds.) 2)Then….. without opening or moving your lips, allow your lower jaw bone to drop just a little inside your mouth. 3)Keep humming and you will feel the vibrations more intensely. 4) Release your belly for breath to replace whenever you need to and 4)enjoy the sensation.
Well, I know the secret for me. Decades and decades of coaching people to achieve their full human potential have distilled into this knowledge. The voices that make me want to listen, the voices that make me fall in love with them, are those who have been trained to speak with a thrilling but unobtrusive balance of vowels and consonants. In a wide generalized statement I submit that Vowels play music to our listeners’ ears, while the consonants engage their intellect. Together they communicate our human presence. Listen to voices this week – some people are speak with lots of oompah-oompah vowels heavy noises. Others lean into speaking with very crisp and over-emphatic consonants. What is your balance?
Before I speak, I must ask myself three questions:
1. Is it true?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it kind?
I keep forgetting however and have to begin again over and over.
TEN TIPS TO LAUGHING HAPPILY
An Actors Guide to Safe Stage Laughter
1. Rest and hydrate all through your run.
2. Warm up your voice before the show.
3. Maintain supported breath in an open chest, throat, and vowel space — the more relaxed your system, the less stress on it!
4. Gentle on the inhale — laughing is a breathing pattern, and the inhales can be short and sharp. If you can inhale through your nose, do so.
5. Start slow and low — give yourself somewhere to go.
6. Take breaks in the laughter — don’t “freight train” the work. Stop and sigh it out throughout. This also keeps the laughs natural.
7. Make sure the text is understood — this will put focus on the words and not the laughter, and help you treat the laughs lightly. The words matter more.
8. A little bit of hysterical laughing goes a long way — you don’t really need to sell it as hard as you think.
9. Reset with a sigh — a beautiful series of happy exhales of relief can “reset” the body, breath and ribs so you’re ready to move into the next moment.
10. Ramp up slowly — return to natural conversation with your breath supported, and your chest, throat and vowel space open and relaxed.
Your best voice is clear, intelligible and effortless. You want people to listen to what you say, not listen to your voice. When you are making a speech, you will feel more confident if you do this exercise about 30 minutes before. Actors love it.
*Slide your tongue, flatly, out of your mouth so it rests on your lower lip. Keep it there as you speak you first one or two sentences. Use your lips so that you can be understood, (you just sound very strange and it is also quite a big effort.) Make sure you don’t push your head forward and that you continue to breathe low. Speak with strong meaning and intention so that you don’t sound like a robot. I should be able to follow you as you do this.
*Then, let the tongue slide back into the bottom of your mouth (where it wants to be) and repeat those same sentences. You will find that, because you have stretched the muscles at the back of the tongue, the tongue is happier, faster, more specific in its movements. You
will feel that it is just so easy to say the words. As Shakespeare said your words will be …..trippingly on the tongue.
Try it and let me know.
Voice, speech, acting, presentations, self-confidence, voice health – pictures and thoughts on these topics and everything that surrounds them fill my life. I am constantly discussing something with myself. I am a self-blogger. But, today I am going public.
What does the term vocal branding mean?
Our voice and your vocal presence is our Brand. Here is my Brand. I spent a considerable amount of money and angst having someone design a brand for me, and it turned out to be just my name! I thought at first it was a little too easy and too self-promoting. (That was poor self-blogging). Then I thought, well that’s the way it is! My brand is my name and experience and expertise. My voice in the world is my brand. While that buzz word might disappear in a year or two, what won’t change is the fact that I see every day that poor communication skills or poor self knowledge can limit our world.
Consider this fact: the moment we speak, our listeners make a quick judgment, (from their personal catalogue of judgements, likes and dislikes), of who we are, and where we stand in the pecking order of their life. They do that little check before they listen to what we are saying. Observe yourself for a short time and catch yourself doing just that.
Our brand (our professional reputation really) is under our control and people in the corporate world seek out professional voice coaches. What limiting elements of your life might a voice coach be able to explain and make disappear? Vocal Knowledge guides us to the next level of personal competence and confidence. What if we stepped up to the self we could be? What would be your brand if you did this?
When I first found my voice, I cried and laughed, and laughed and cried and, even today, many years later, that moment remains an emotional trigger. I can recall it in an instant and feel the wet eyes again. Somewhere at school I learned that to speak out was to invite hurtful retaliation from a very unpleasant teacher. Instead, I learned to be funny and pleasant. That limitation didn’t work for my life of course and so the journey to find my voice began. Finally, I learned that it was ok to speak my own mind : that it was safe for me to speak. That, I now see, was the first step in finding my brand. Searching for my authentic voice was, and still is, challenging, fun and most of all, joyous.
Here are some questions that might interest you? Do you like the sound of your voice? How many voices do you have? (e.g. One for your friends, one for intimate relationships, one for your boss, one that you use when you meet powerful people?) Even reading those terms might cause feelings and reactions. If they do it’s because the answers tend to ask you to consider your value system, and your personal politics. You face these issues when you begin to unearth the narrative about yourself. And, your narrative is likely to be limiting. Do you glimpse a more freeing way of speaking about yourself? How can any of us resist a new narrative? AND it’s all about our breath.
When you walk into a group, how do you sense who is the most powerful person in the room? I suspect you will choose the person who is most deeply and calmly connected with breath. (That brings up the idea of presence, which is for another blog. ) Enough.
Homework: Would you please think of a word that describes your relationship to your voice? Mine is vital but I’ve used that same word for years and I think I should find another. I would be thrilled to know your word. I am a self-conscious first time blogger and need some encouragement. Thank you. D