GREAT SPEAKERS NEWSLETTER - August 11, 2011
THE VOICE and the Speaker
One of my clients, was just introduced to his diaphragm last week and now understands the power of a confident, enthusiastic, and a supported voice.
There is a difference between what we think is the right "SPEAKING VOICE" and the friendly, energetic, and connected voice you need to communicate to an audience.
I am so aware when speakers use their "SPEAKING VOICE". It is disconnected from their bodies and their feelings and it ends up sounding monotone. I just turn off when that drone starts.
Every time I coach someone who has this disconnected SPEAKING voice, I ask them what they had for breakfast. They tell me in their normal voice. Then I tell them that's the voice I want them to use. At first they don't understand but eventually with some work they see how talking like you do to a friend is more authentic, available and significant. When that happens people want to listen to you. They trust you and your message.
Another pet peeve of mine is inarticulate speech. People slur their words together or never fully speak the entire word itself. I suggest slowing down. This is a common problem and an easy fix if you just practice slowing down.
As for the slur, well try tongue twisters and over articulate to the hilt. Have those lips moving and that tongue (an important muscle for your speech) over working. (See the Sidebar Article and my blog TONGUE TWISTERS for Actors and Speakers). You can surf the net for many other choices. Just be consistent in practicing every day. And please give each word it's full value and say the WHOLE word. The best way to practice is by saying ONE WORD AT A TIME.
Another turn off is the aforementioned monotone. Most people in their daily lives speak in a monotone. After all it's safe - you aren't offending anyone by being neutral. You also aren't connecting to anyone in an authentic and engaging way. The solution? Again practice a number of exercises daily that deal with power, pace, and pitch.
The FOLLOWING EXERCISE is used by speakers and actors but I want to attach a WARNING - These are best done first with a vocal coach as you could hurt that delicate instrument, your vocal chords, if you don't support it with the proper breathing necessary.
Find one phrase or sentence that you know well - happy birthday to you is fine. Now for
PITCH 1) start with a low voice and slowly move into a very high voice and back down again, for
POWER 2) start with a very quite voice and slowly move into a very loud one and down again, and for
PACE 3) start with a very slow speech and slowly move into a very fast one and back to slow again.
SPEAK ON THE BREATH - that means take in a breath and then speak on that breath. Don't take a breath, let it out and then speak. You'll hurt yourself.
Again without the proper breath support you could do yourself damage so get the proper instruction from a vocal coach. And then practice daily.
And last, but maybe most important.
I find a large number of my clients speak quietly giving off very low energy. That makes them sound unenthusiastic, timid and lost.
A prime component to being someone worth listening to is your enthusiasm and confidence. Your passion is what sparks my passion and I want to hear you. So heighten the energy. Fill the room with your energy. This does not mean shouting and hurting your voice. It means finding your optimal speaking voice and using it fully. The optimal speaking voice is the bottom of a yawn - with AHHH being said at the top of the yawn.
A FINAL NOTE. All of these exercises are about energy moving outward. The inner work of connecting to images, phrases, purposes, audience, and being present are just as important.
Don't allow yourself to pull back, be quiet, shut down because fear creeps in. Focus back out on the audience and feed them your energy.
"Creativity is an Act of Bravery"
My energy is dedicated to supporting the dangerous artist, the authentic speaker, and all other adventurers brave enough to go outside their comfort zone to explore the extraordinary that lives in them.
Obama's speaking abilities are whatever is the direct opposite of monotone
When Barack Obama speaks, his cadence and tone change and he emphasizes certain words. It sounds as if what he is saying is coming from his brain which understands the significance of every word and idea he utters. Consequently, profound extra dimensions are added to his words. Speechwriters cannot write that into a speech.
Ronald Reagan was an experienced actor and could deliver speeches very effectively. George W. Bush reads a teleprompter well. Hillary Clinton understands what she is talking about but lacks the poetry that flows so effortlessly from Obama. John Edwards who had experience in the courtroom and on the campaign trail was able to developed some of what Obama has.
Take a moment and listen to speeches from these and other famous speakers with an ear towards PACE, PITCH and POWER and their ability to connect to what they are saying. Discover for yourself how important these tools are in getting a message across.
Exercising your mouth with difficult tongue twisters keeps your mouth fit.
Here are a few tongue twisters to work on at home. Do each tongue twister EIGHT times, getting quicker with each recitation.
Unique New York
Theopholis Thistle the successful thistle sifter, thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.
The big bad bug bit the big black bear and the big bad bear bled blood.
Rubber baby buggy bumpers.
Six thick thistle sticks
Fragment from the operetta
The Mikado -- W. S. Gilbert
To sit in solemn silence in a
dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison,
with a life long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a
short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper
on a big black block!
Did you remember to over articulate, say each word separately and speak on your breath?
For More Tongue Twisters…
Artwork ©Julie Davis 1998-2011