I LOVE seeing speakers nail it, especially if I have coached them. It is by far the best part of my professional life so I am walking on sunshine today.
Last Night, I had the distinct privilege of watching thirteen speakers stand true and deliver exciting content, connected to their voices. The event was the Seventh Annual Boston EdTalks held and nurtured by The Boston Foundation. Over a series of weeks, these educators went through a transformational speaker development experience led by Laura Gassner Otting and Tamsen Webster with me as the voice and performance coach. These educators turned up to Boston EdTalks on May 10, 2018, and gave voice to their ideas with power and intention. They were so good!
Every time I coach a cohort, I am struck by the same three things and today I really wanted to write to about it.
- A little vocal knowledge expands everything. When I first meet a cohort, I find myself working on posture and air-use, or maybe tweaking a specific vocal challenge. I try, in a very short period of time, to help speakers make small adjustments in support of their voices. To get them to acknowledge their voices. It isn’t easy to get a group of people to take it on faith that their voice can, and is, being improved by working on body alignment or doing somewhat silly exercises. The understanding comes after the deed. Which is why I am so humbled every time by the trust speakers place in the process, even after having just met me, they tend to try to lean in.
- Resistance and Release. The process of using your voice intentionally, of giving it power, is not always easy. Sometimes the mind resists, sometimes it is the body that fights the hardest. Honestly, it is rarely just about the voice. It is about the stories, real or imagined, that have cast ourselves in. The truth behind it all is that it is impossible to hide when your voice is true. The voice is an incredible tattle-tale. It opens up your idea and your content and, to a greater or lesser extent, who you are to make a connection. It makes us see you. It is not just communication, though it serves that, it is about embodying your message. I see speakers struggle and challenge throughout this process and then I see them release themselves to the process. That release is where the magic happens.
- The power of breath. In its truest form, all verbal communication is just a movement of air through your body and into the world where it disrupts other air to create a sound wave. The voice is air. Sometimes through the coaching process, I hear a collective sigh (maybe just in my head) when I talk about breath (again). Still, it is the most important asset in our arsenal as speakers. Not just breathing but using air with intention. Using air with the knowledge of meaning, and importance, and in service to our ideas. In my experience, it is the breath that becomes the most challenging concept to accept because it is so simple. Breath is about movement and vulnerability. Breath is also about fuel and power. Cohort after cohort, the strongest speeches are always driven by the power of breath.
So last night, thirteen speakers in ten talks shook up what we think about what education needs. They gave Voice to ideas that they are passionate about and they did it with the power of their individual voices. I believe in the power of the human voice and these speakers took me to church.
I would love to hear your speaking stories or even about the speeches that have moved you. Drop me a line or comment below. Oh, and breathe.
Gina Razón is the principal voice specialist at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service voice and speech studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over 16 years of experience both as a teacher of voice and speech, and a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.