Mar 30 2016

How to be more expressive

Published by under Delivery

dreamstime_m_33164277Some people are just more expressive than others. When you listen to an expressive person, you hear lots of pitches and pace changes and even more pauses than someone who is not as expressive. For years, in American business, people were taught to get rid of their vocal variety. Vocal expression was something you had to be careful about in order to avoid being “too emotional,” or even “unprofessional.”

Well, times have changed. Fellow blogger and Forbes contributor, Nick Morgan says it this way: “Somewhere between the 20th and the 21st centuries, the general public became tired of hype and decided that it wanted authenticity instead. It’s the most important quality in communications today.”

Expressive speaking, where your words are tied to emotions and meaning, is the sound of authenticity. This means that if you feel an emotion, you can talk about it, reflect it in how you sound, and even be demonstrative without being unprofessional.  I don’t recommend that you have a temper tantrum even if you really feel like it, but, in fact, if you don’t demonstrate some emotions, you may lose your audience completely.  In addition, besides authenticity, an expressive voice conveys the meaning of the words and makes it easier for your audience to follow what you are saying.

dreamstime_m_62079818I’ve noticed that many people don’t know how to find the expressiveness in their voice, let alone use it. As with all behavioral changes, you have to be aware before you can do it differently. Therefore these three steps will get you started on the road to discovering a more expressive you.

1. Get in touch with your feelings. (“Oh no,” you say! “Not that again!”) Well, yes. Authentic expression is attached to an authentic feeling. But if that’s hard for you, let’s make it more clinical: when you feel a feeling, how does it sound in your voice? For example, sadness may slow down your delivery. And frustration might make you clip and punch your words. Observe and take notes.

2. Play with your voice. You can’t use a sound you can’t hear first. This means that you may need to experiment with the sound of your voice. Think of the different sounds you can make as your expression tool box. Think of the meanings of the words you say and how that effects the way you say them. Just as sad music is often in a minor key, how do different sounds make you feel? And remember, you weren’t born with the ability to make funny sounds only to keep them to yourself! Play aloud!

3. Be brave. Once you have discovered a new palette of sounds to express your emotions, try it out. Practice it with your friends and family. Use it in your next talk. This may feel unauthentic at first because you aren’t used to feeling the feeling and doing it anyway. However, if you keep trying, you may find that you really enjoy getting in touch with your more colorful, human side, and that your listeners like it too. Dave Grohl called this the importance of the “The human element. That thing that happens when a song speeds up slightly, or a vocal goes a little sharp. That thing that makes people sound like PEOPLE.”

Intention: The prescription for an authentic voice

 

What is your vocal variety saying about you?

 

© Mimagephotography | Dreamstime.com – Young woman with happy expression pointing fingers

© Dragonimages | Dreamstime.com – Expressionless face

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Mar 09 2016

3 Steps to Create a Super Voice for Vocal Marathons

Published by under Vocal Health,Vocal Image

dreamstime_m_35585888Ever since people have been trying to be heard over a crowd, there have been hoarse voices, but nowhere is this more apparent than in the race to grab the Presidency in the US. An article in the NY Times stated that the Republican Primary Campaign “has a cold,” and described vocal issues experienced by the candidates due to the extreme demands on their voices, while MSNBC actually interrupted the broadcast of a speech by Hillary Clinton in order to discuss her voice, which was obviously hoarse from overuse.  With nearly 8 months to go, the candidates are already showing signs of vocal fatigue, problems that would put most people on immediate vocal rest, i.e. silence! Since that’s not an option for a presidential candidate, they soldier on with raspy voices as their vocal images fade into a shadow of their former glory. (This could be good for the rest of us if they now feel they will only speak if they have something to say that is worth the pain of croaking it out.)

Although the race for the Presidency seems to create extraordinary conditions for vocal use, executives often speak non-stop for 8-12 hours a day, as do teachers and attorneys. According to voice practitioner, Joanna Cazden, voice over artists spend hours in a studio creating voices for games, making sounds that are harsh and hard on the vocal folds.  Singers go on tour, and day after day they have to be heard by thousands when they cannot hear themselves, and they over sing to compensate. Success in these vocal marathons is threatened by the physical demands of travel, eating on the run, colds and flu, and sleep deprivation– universal experiences in a global economy.

dreamstime_m_56418716It’s tough to have to depend on your voice when you know the requirements of your job put your voice at risk for vocal damage; everyone knows that in today’s competitive landscape, the one who stops talking (or singing) is the one who starts losing. Yet, is it any better to have a voice that gives people the perception that you are weak or hedging because your vocal folds are so raw that you can’t make a strong sound? Conversely, if you have to shout in order to bring your inflamed vocal folds together to make a sound, others may judge that you are yelling at them, which is exactly what is happening to Clinton. Your vocal image is the perception people have of you from the sound of your voice, and that perception is created in the first 8 words that you speak, when the race has just begun.

dreamstime_m_62076681For the current candidates, it’s already too late to create the super voice they needed. They can only hope to get a little time off to recover after the primaries, or enough cortisone to keep complete voice loss at bay long enough to finish the race. But they will be limping to the finish line. Your super voice, however, doesn’t have to be a lost cause.  In order to find it, you have get to know your voice and treat it like it is important to you BEFORE you have a problem with it. If you know you have vocal demands greater than the average person, take a lesson from the athlete’s handbook and do something about it before your only resort is repair rather than prevention. Here’s how:

1.     Learn good vocal technique: Minimize vocal distress when put to the test of extreme vocal use by finding a good voice coach and learning how your voice works and how to use it;  find out about posture and breathing. Eat a diet that supports a strong voice. Exercise it to make it strong and, above all, practice regularly to keep your technique in shape.

2.     Adopt good vocal maintenance habits: Drink lots of water and build vocal rest into your day. Keep fit with vocalizes and warm-ups before voice use.

3.     Follow good vocal care practices: when there is an issue emerging, the right care helps to prevent problems that lead to severe, permanent damage. Learn when to seek help from an otolaryngologist. For starters, if you have chronic hoarseness, get help. If you wake up with laryngitis, get help. If your voice hurts, get help. Get help before a lingering vocal issue shuts you down for a long, long time and you have to get out of the race for good.

To learn more about these three steps to create a super voice, please click the links below.

What is good vocal technique? How to Create a Strong Voice, Parts 1-4

How should you care for your voice on a day-to-day basis? 10 Ways to Love Your Voice

What can you do when you lose your voice? How to Relieve a Tired Voice When You Must Keep Talking

And here’s a peek at what Vocal Marathoners do on American Idol.

 

© Arindam Banerjee | Dreamstime.com

© Tommy Jeffers | Dreamstime.com – Donald Trump November 9, 2015

© Dmcdesign | Dreamstime.com – Bernie Sanders at War on Woman March

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