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How to improve Your Speaking Voice?

How to improve Your Speaking Voice?

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Published by Gary Wohlman
See www.mypresentationdoctor.com for more info, insights and inspiration
See www.mypresentationdoctor.com for more info, insights and inspiration

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Published by: Gary Wohlman on Jul 20, 2012
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07/26/2013

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How to Improve your Speaking Voice?

The following transcript is from an actual session I led with a client who is beginning to make audio recordings of his presentations to make available to his students. He wanted to learn tips, tools and techniques to improve the quality and effectiveness of his live and recorded voice.

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In today‟s session, I want to focus on improving my speaking voice – both when I‟m making recordings for my students as well as in person. What can I do? Okay, to get started, in the physical space that your voice is projecting into right now to record this session, envision yourself speaking to live people, rather than just focusing on speaking into the metal. because you are alive and they are listening, but you never see them. And they never see you. So, you are making contact without the visual element. When you are speaking into the recorder without people being able to read your gestures and physical expression, it‟s even more important to make a strong and resonant connection with your body and your messaging as though your audience were right in front of you… For example, one time I was working with a man name Bob Rathbun. He was a news commentator for sports, and this was on the east coast of the United States. Then he received a promotion and moved with his wife to the mid-west of the United States. He got a job on TV doing presenting. Now people saw him. Before he made his big move to become one of the most successful and celebrated sportscasters and live TV commentators of all time, I showed him ways he could speak with greater effectiveness on the radio with his voice without anybody seeing him. He actually started doing some really interesting things to enhance his vocal effectiveness with his body. Without being prompted by me, he naturally put his fingers of one hand together into a focused pose like a tripod, and in that focus, his energy was so much more connected. His speaking voice sounded so much more powerful as a result of the way he put his body in particular postures and stances that allowed him, like a radio antenna, to pick up different frequencies and to communicate in such a way that he revealed a depth of resonance in his residence, in the landscape of his body. And that happened as a result of tiny shifts in his finger and hands and posture. It only took moments for him to speak with greater command and connection.

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Ok, so he shifted his posture and then he spoke better. Because his posture was focused. So, there‟s a lot of ways of working with your voice. When I want to do a recording voice, I want to… I am sure you‟ve heard Anthony Robbins speak in the audios. Then other people are speaking and they read of the script. I‟m guessing Anthony Robbins speak while he‟s walking, or doing body gestures, while the other people just read without expressing themselves. Yes, let‟s see what‟s natural for you, because you may find a combination within a natural ability to take a stance to move through space, to hold particular postures. With the speaking voice people don‟t necessarily see, but maybe you are standing on one foot and that gives a feeling of „I‟m alive, I‟m on the edge‟. Or perhaps, you are sitting down and you are more relaxed. Or perhaps you are walking around. It‟s up to you to find a way that‟s most dynamic. You might

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realise that the speaking voice is a function of your posture, your movement patterns and your intention. Now let‟s go through the challenges you experience in relationship to your speaking voice. P: I have been working on my voice it the past week. I‟ve been reading up on the posture. So, neck, the back of the neck long, and the front short. I‟ve noticed my vocal cords a lot more. Breathing through my stomach, chest out. It‟s like what we did last time in our session. And when I speak, the vibration. . . I can feel my chest and jaw vibrate when I speak. And I‟ve noticed my voice is a little bit more raspier now. And how would you communicate differently if you could because obviously you are not that happy with that. That‟s not satisfying to you. That‟s not satisfactory to you. What would be? In terms of my voice? Yes. I want it to be powerful, direct, and strong. When you watch TV and you hear voiceover guys advertising a film or a show, and they get this deep raspy voice that really connects with people? it‟s that kind of connection that I want. So that people be listening to me, if you know what I mean. Who reminds you of that? Those voiceover guys on TV. It‟s a deep voice. Deep and resonant in the sense of authority, there‟s a slowness, a cadence between syllables, a slow deep authority that communicates through a rhythmic slow pattern that moves people to recognize that „This is an authority speaking. I want this product. I trust this voice.‟ Yes. Exactly. I want to have video sales letters. I want to be doing that. I want that voice to be authoritative just like those voices of people I always hear. And I love them. It just grabs you. What I want is exactly what you said: slow words, that certain rhythm, that cadence – all that. Ok, so let‟s practice. Let‟s practice with something. Ok. Can I read something? Yes. What would you like to read? Anything. Have you got anything for me to read? Because I‟ll be reading mostly the video sales letter. Here‟s my new brochure. Ok. (reads) „About Doctor Gary Wohlman. I‟m a communication skills coach. I specialise in helping people express their ideas and opinions effectively.‟ Ok. Already, I have some comments. What do you suppose I‟m going to say? I‟m reading. Exactly. You need to read if you are reading as though you are not reading. Act as though you aren‟t acting. Perform as though you aren‟t performing. So it feels like, it sounds like, it looks like

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(if I am seeing you) that you are integrous with your messaging, and resident in your residence with your messaging. You‟re envisioning and picturing everything you are saying as you are saying it. If you can put your attention at the base of your spine, directing your attention to that place in you getting the message first, picture what you are saying. To master this art of speaking in your natural voice that is commanding and compelling all at once, practice just a few words or sentences at a time. And picture one phrase at a time, feel it, see it, imagine it as though you were seeing what you are saying happen before you go on to your next statement. In other words, allow yourself to be a little bit more self-reflective when you are speaking, not just producing words for you to download to people. Now, I want to feel those words as though I can picture it, because you are saying it as though it‟s happening in the moment. Ready? Do it that way. I: Ok. (reads) “I‟m a communication skills coach. I specialise in helping people express their ideas and opinions effectively.” Just notice how, in taking little pauses after each of those phrases, there‟s room for me to be in that image with you. I can‟t be in the image with you without you also seeing it and visualising it first. And when you do, then I‟m brought into the sound bite of that scenario, and I am there with you. It‟s much more engaging. So, more pauses. Picture that as though you are in that moment itself. I almost thought it was me talking, when you were just reading the words I wrote about being a “communications skills coach,” yet it was you You got it? Keep going. “With an excellent understanding of the personal and professional developing industry, I have developed a revolutionary technique, which helps people find their true voice.” Now, I think you are on the right track with getting the words out in a way that‟s strong, direct and powerful. I‟m going to make a recommendation starting today that you shift your three key words to something slightly different. Because I‟m having the same experience as you are speaking right now. What am I going to tell you? The words in the way it‟s written and being strong in the way of being authoritative doesn‟t suit the context? Something like that. You are sensitive, so you know what I am about to say. What I am about to say is look at these three key words you have been holding as your essential qualities: Powerful, direct and strong. They are all strong, alpha male, macho, fiery, powerful, assertive words. With those words alone, there‟s no room in there for gentleness in your authority. There‟s no room for tenderness, humanity, your caring, your deep caring. You do care deeply. When I hear you speaking with forcefulness, it feels too loud, and pushes me away. To reach me effectively, I require a lot more vocal variation and sensitivity in the voice production of sound. So that I can get strength with sensitivity, I get directness with dulcet tones; I get power with poignant poises. I am playing with the letters, so you can remember that, and I‟m saying this to you so you can present more of your presentation in a way that is a combination of the assertive and receptive elements that are necessary. Otherwise, it‟s all fire, it‟s all male, it‟s all push, it‟s all direct, it‟s all strong, and it leaves me cold. It‟s just loud like these announcers. I take exception to those announcers because I prefer to have a combination of authority with confiding gentle, sometimes even whispering tones that suggest „the real secret to this is,‟ as though you are speaking with and confiding in a dear friend. And that‟s strong! When I just said “the real secret to this is,” I wasn‟t shouting, I was whispering and speaking with tenderness, gentleness and ease. Allowing more of your whole humanity to come through, and I will want to listen more to your message, and I‟ll remember your message. If it‟s all loud, it‟s like a hundred train cars coming barreling down the tracks, leaving me with an empty feeling -- and there‟s no space for me to see

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the numbers on the train cars. I need a little bit more variation in your quality of sound production. What did I just tell you that made sense? P: Vary the vocal message. I was fiery and direct, but it‟s good to feel the words. For example, here it says „with the excellent understanding‟. I just said it. Rather than saying „excellent understanding‟, I can say „with an excellent understanding of the personal and professional development industry, I have developed a revolutionary technique which helps people find their true voice‟. It‟s better now. What‟s different, what‟s better? Because now I feel it‟s not just strong, strong, direct power that feels like „Oh God, it‟s too much.‟ This is more what? I‟m connecting more with the words of what they mean or meant to me. For example, I say understanding. Understanding is a kinesthetic word. When you understand something, you have a feeling for that. And even you did what Bob Rathbun did, you are putting your fingers together and you are dropping your fingers like a lead weight down to the torso. That shows an authority. But it‟s not louder, it‟s softer. It‟s quieter, it‟s deeper connecting with your gut feelings, your primal instincts, your deepest intuition. Yet it comes from a calmer, collected, cohesive container that at the base of the pelvis is like a base in itself. The pelvic basin can be seen as the seat of the emotions. Your generative force as it comes out through passion, through vibrancy, comes from a place of stillness, rather than a place of commotion. I‟m much more able to hear you from this place. (continues reading) “This innovative approach of generating breakthroughs in communication not only transforms people‟s presentation, yet also their presence to life in general.” Part of it would be good as you are reading is to release hesitation. What would be good to release hesitation, is to read the phrases to yourself first before you say them and allow the pauses so it doesn‟t sound like you are reading. Let me show you what I am talking about by demonstrating the Double-Extreme technique I‟ve created. If I am reading this like I am reading this, I may say, „I. am. A. Communication. Skills. Coach.” And if I am reading it like I am not reading it, I might say, „I am a communication skills coach‟. What‟s the difference between the two? You‟ve connected the words. It was more flowing the second time. Yes! It‟s fluent, it‟s fluid, it‟s flowing, it‟s focused. It‟s me picturing the statement as though I was telling myself first. If you can tell yourself first and really get the communication before you move on to the next point in your own feelings of „Aha! I understand,‟ then the audience and everyone else will get it by osmosis. If you get it first, everyone else is going to get it. If you don‟t get it first, you are just producing sounds, people are going to lose focus and attention and wonder what you‟re talking about every single step of the way. As a practice when you are speaking, find yourself every step of the way receiving the communication, not just delivering the communication. It‟s a lightly slower tone of voice, of repeating syllables. Then you will speak from a deeper authority at the same time. With the words, I don‟t know what‟s going to come next. Then breathe and read and digest the words before you say them, and then you know what‟s going to come next. You don‟t say the words when you are reading them. You breathe and that‟s your time to read to yourself. Then you‟ve got the picture of what it looks like, and then you enter that zone. You become that picture.

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Hans Selye from Canada years ago was known for his concept of conscious proprioception, which is the essence of guided visualisation for athletes. He had a way of encouraging athletes to visualise excellent, superb, top performance outcomes. By consciously propriocepting, seeing beforehand the desired outcome, by receiving the message you will giving by reading the words, you will be receiving it first by giving it to yourself, then we get that you are getting the message. I hear you. I really hear you. P: GW: P: I do understand what you mean. I tell you this. What did you understand? I understand how if I get it, the person hearing it or the people hearing it will also get it. If I am just reading word for word, I don‟t understand what I am reading. However, if I put the words inside of me, and understand, and feel the words, that projection comes out. I know what you mean exactly. I am just going to practice that. (keeps reading) “Having a doctrine in transformational psychology and years of specialist practice, I have identified the key elements of interpersonal effectiveness. I have a track record.. Whoops! I lost it here. “ Notice in the place right between where you find it and where you lose it. See, after saying „personal effectiveness,‟ digest it. Sit with it. Feel it. Feel what it feels like. Feel what‟s moved in your belly, what‟s moved in your solar plexus – your power center, what‟s moved in your heart, your feeling of affinity and rapport that allows you to connect through your arms and your gestures even as you speak. Your whole body, even if there‟s nobody in the room, speaking in the full feeling of engagement -- even when there‟s no one there. It would be great, if you could even put down the paper, or put it in a way so you can move your hands – put a chair in front of you, or a lecturn or something. If you put the piece of paper you are reading from on an angle so it rests still by itself without your having to hold it up, then you can free both of your hands. Keep your whole body now fluid, flowing, flexible, focused and fun. Go. (reading) “With an excellent understanding of personal and professional development industry, I have developed a revolutionary technique which help people find their true voice.” Ah, notice now how you are much more congruent when you use your hands! Yes, I am. I may never see your voice or your body when you are speaking to an audio that you are going to be making available online or through products. Yet in this practice session, I do see you now using your whole body that communicates your message, I hear you much better. And you do, too. Yes, I do, too, because I am feeling the words through my hands and through my whole body. The whole body is the messenger. The body is the instrument of communication. The more you are able to communicate in a way that allows you to project your combination of verbal words, vocal sounds and visual gestures, then those elements will bring through the fullness of view, the fuller range of hues of view. (reading) “I will show you how to turn speech preparation into a breeze. I can provide an architecture and structure that will show how to ride the waves of highs and lows in preparing and delivering a speech. I‟ll show you how to create rapport and maximise the connection with both yourself and your audience. In doing so, your listeners will feel they are as important to your presentation as the information you have to share.” I was just getting the words in.

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It would be good to go over the same words and do it over and over again each time in a new way with more presence each time. That‟s the practice. (reads) “I‟ll show you how to create rapport and maximise the connection with both yourself and your audience. In doing so, your listeners will feel they are as important to your presentation as the information you have to share.” It‟s important to know which words you want to emphasise. You don‟t want to put emphasis on words such as „as,‟ because that‟s an underplayed word. But „information‟ – the voice gets strong. You want to „share‟: this one is strong. But you don‟t want to put emphasis on the words like „as‟, „the‟, „to‟, because those are the ones that are minimised. The ones that stand out, or the ones that are the nouns, the ones that have more of the focus on your energy picks up. So you can‟t have all of them go up. The and‟s, the „the‟s,‟ the „to‟s‟ are the least important of the words, so your voice goes down. And when you say „information,‟ „presence,‟ those are the words where your voice picks up. Continue practicing with that in mind. Going back to what you just shared so you can practice what we‟ve just said with the words you‟ve just shared doing it differently when you get to the words „as,‟ „to,‟ and „the‟. So the nouns . . . The nouns stand out, the adjectives are ok. But it‟s the nouns that stand out. Sometimes the adjectives can stand out. But you don‟t need to emphasise predicates. Conjunctions are softer. If the links between the train cars were the „and‟s‟ and the „to‟s,‟ and I just heard those, I wouldn‟t notice any train cars. I‟d rather notice the train cars and let the others be underplayed. Now we are starting more vocal variation: where to put the focus, and where to drop the voice and where to raise the voice. This is good practice. (reads) “I‟ll show you how to create rapport and maximise the connection with both yourself and your audience. In doing so, your listeners will feel they are as important to your presentation as…” See, that „as‟. I‟m catching it now. The reason I said is that I didn‟t know, I couldn‟t flow now. Now you do. Do it with sounds this time. I‟d like you to do it without any words. Just do it in gibberish. Just do it now with gestures and sounds. No words. You will be reading the words but it will come out as sounds that I wouldn‟t necessarily understand. Intention is the same. So you still picture yourself as you make the sound. Go! (sounds it out) Now make it as compelling as possible because the way it‟s coming across now is hesitant and unsure because you are not saying words, it doesn‟t make sense what you are saying. I want you to be making the sounds that match the feeling of the intention behind each word. So that the intonation and tone I hear matches the word even more than the word itself. It‟s that accurate. If I were saying the words „I am a communication skills coach‟ without words, I would say (speaks gibberish). See? It‟s got strength, rapport, passion, poise, posing all at once. The next sentence, „I specialise in helping people.‟ (gibberish) It has a different quality, it‟s fascinating to hear. But there are no words. „Express their ideas and opinions effectively‟ (speaks gibberish). It doesn‟t matter, but it‟s more interesting that way. More interesting. Keep going. Now, your version of that. Do you want me to say the words or just the sounds?

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Just the sounds. (sounds it out) Now do it in words. You will see how much more present you are because you have been willing to create the essence of the intonation that matches the intention behind the word. Now do it with the words, and notice how much more present you are. Go! “I‟m a communication skills coach. I specialise in helping people express their ideas and opinions effectively.” That‟s so much clearer. It‟s so much easier to hear you now. What changed? I noticed it. I know you feel it. I wanted the other person to feel the message. If I want somebody to hear the message, I‟ve got to believe the message myself and cover them with that message, so they also absorb that. In words, I can‟t explain what I mean, but I really want the audience to feel and get the message. I think it‟s what you said before that I got to understand the message first. Receive the message first, what your hands are saying. Your hands are very clearly speaking. It includes understanding, yet it‟s receiving it into your own self. A really clear picture. Anybody can see what you are saying without any words, by the way. It‟s so clear what you are saying from what you are not saying. Look at your hands right now, also your fingers are all facing towards your heart. Your hands are facing in. So, I am going to put the words and what the words mean inside of me and then project that out to the other person. By doing that, I‟m guessing unconsciously the intonation of the words come out better. Now say it as if you are owning it rather than saying „I need to do that, I‟ve got to do this‟. I am doing this. Let‟s hear you say it in a full sentence. Because I am receiving the words and the meaning of the words inside of me, the message is more readily received from the audience. Now since you hesitated, deliberately hesitate to make it exaggerated. Exaggerate all the hesitation and then we‟ll do the opposite just to get past this pattern of speech. We‟‟ll do a “double extreme.‟ You want me to hesitate more. Yes, really hesitate. And even include the words „I sometimes forget what to say. The reason I am hesitating is I‟m thinking about what to say‟. Include this as part of your hesitation this time. Then we‟ll do the opposite of not hesitating. Totally hesitate! What I am about to do is in a way put the words inside of me and then, once the words are inside of me, I can project that out to the audience and hopefully the audience gets my message. The opposite of hesitation is. . . let‟s go for the opposite way. Blurt it out and see what happens.

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I put the words inside of me, I gather their understanding and their feelings and then I project to the audience. Continue what you are saying. My words aren‟t your words. It maybe a message you have. I think it was important to focus first on your message than my message. That was a good starting place. When you are reading, you aren‟t always reading. You are also speaking from your heart. And you have a key message. What is it? What is your essential message as a trainer to other trainers? You are reaching out to the other level, as a trainer to trainers rather than also a trainer who is training trainers. Focusing on training trainers, „If I had one message to you, to all those I will be training, it would be. . . …To fully understand my message and intentions. Tell us as though it were a full sentence. „To all of you…‟ because there are all those people who are listening to you through audio listening or video listening or the combination of in person visual or online, or through some electronic means they purchase some of your audio. Speak to all of those listeners. In the full sentence? Starting with „To all of you...‟ To all of you purchasing my products… To all of you, present and future customers, clients, trainees… To all of you, future prospects, I now address you with a key message and that is… I‟m trying to find the words for them to grab an understanding. Say that, „for you to grab an understanding of what I say to you”, that‟s fine. „For you to understand what I have to share with you‟, make it simpler. I‟m stuck in the middle. What‟s the middle? I want to say to all my prospects, I want my message. Shall I say, „I want‟? No. Here‟s my message for you. To all my future trainers and prospects, I have a key message for you. And that is to get the most understanding from my teachings. Say these words: My resonant speaking voice, My resonant speaking voice, comes out most easily, comes out most easily, when I… when I am relaxed and know what to say.

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Even when I don‟t know what to say, Even when I don‟t know what to say, My speaking voice is… My speaking voice is…. I got the answer to this, but the words I don‟t have. Ok, let‟s get the answer first and then go to the words. The answer is I care about them. When someone asks me a question and I‟ve got to respond, I‟ve got to absorb their answer and have a feeling of it and then project the words from that feeling. Say that simpler. Ok, when I‟m coaching someone it‟s like somehow I just know the feeling that they need for me to give out. I know what you need. I‟ve been there. I‟ve been a trainer like yourself. That‟s the empathy, that‟s the compassion, that‟s the being in the other peoples‟ shoes, bodies, footsteps. We feel we matter as much to the presentation as you are downloading information, just like I said earlier when you were reading that. So that‟s what you want to do. You want to communicate that sense of „I know who you are. I know what your needs are. I am you. I‟ve been where you‟ve been. Here‟s what I know.‟ Speaking from that place, keep going. Here‟s how I know how to reach you because I care about you and how I can teach you, because I‟ve been just where you‟ve been and I‟ve experience all your setbacks and I know the feelings that are holding you back. What you can count on me, What you can count on me, for is I will save you… I will teach you the exact steps that I‟ve done and what has helped me breakthrough. It‟s easy and fun for me, It‟s easy and fun for me, to speak in my natural speaking voice. to speak in my natural speaking voice. The more I practice this, The more I practice this, The more my natural speaking voice becomes me. The more my natural speaking voice becomes me.

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I and my natural speaking voice are one. I and my natural speaking voice are one. I am one with you, my audience. I am one with you, my audience. My natural speaking voice reaches you, my audience. My natural speaking voice reaches you, my audience. We are digging through the mine here, different chambers of the mine to be able to get past the self talk that‟ been there before how to reach you. Say that out loud: it‟s easy for me, It‟s easy for me, to reach you, to reach you, with my message. with my message. Whether I believe that or not, Whether I believe that or not, I practice this, I practice this, with everything I think, with everything I think, with everything I say, with everything I say, with everything I do. with everything I do. And here‟s my key message for you. And here‟s my key message for you. What is it? My key message is whatever you‟ve been through, whatever setbacks you‟ve experienced, I‟m there to help you -- every step of the way.

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Beautiful. Now, that‟s a gentle voice. It‟s also a caring voice. And the caring voice communicates more connectedness than the simply powerful, direct and strong voice which can be a bit offputting if it sounds like one of those advertising TV commercial announcers that‟s mostly strength and authority. What you want for you, because you are in health care and a caring profession, to show your caring, your gentleness, to show your humanity and not just your strength of will. I‟m more interested in listening to your message that way. What are you getting of the session today? What are you learning? A lot. What I‟ve gotten is when I read, not to read word for word. Bring the meaning. Picture the words. Bring the meaning into me. Express the message of the meaning of the feeling that I‟m projecting out. Don‟t emphasize conjunctions. Emphasise on the words that have meaning: „Communication, coach, specialise.‟ When I speak, I am one with the audience. My audience is trainers. I know what they are going through now because I‟ve been there. Therefore, I can provide them with some support. Now let‟s shift the word „audience‟ from 3 person to the 2 person „you‟, as it if it in front of you. Because if you speak to someone as though they are right in front of you and call them by name, it‟s more engaging, more present; your feelings come to the surface and your engagement of connection and communication is more coherent. Talk to me, „Hello, audience. I speak to you.‟ Not to them, to you. I am „you‟. Look me in the eyes. Speak to me directly. Yes. I have been through what you are currently experiencing. I know your setbacks, I know how you are feeling now. I know your fears. I know your desires. And because I have been through all that and I‟ve succeeded and broken through all those barriers, I can help you succeed every step of the way. Good. So that‟s feeling like you talking making an eye contact. If you are doing your presentation on the audio, you might even have someone right behind the microphone that you are really looking at or a picture of someone, so that you are not just talking into space, so it‟s a real feeling of engagement. Now, in these words, „What I‟m learning in this session about improving my speaking voice is… What I‟m learning in this session about improving my speaking voice is I am learning how to nd connect better with my words, speaking to the 2 person, so when I‟m reading my message if I visualize that I am speaking to one person, the message will come out deeper, you will understand is better. What I‟m learning the most in this session about improving my speaking voice is… What I‟m learning the most in this session about improving my speaking voice is… speaking voice or reading voice? Well, you are reading aloud, so it‟s speaking. Is caring about the other person understanding my message. To give you an example of this… To give you an example of this is every word that I say has a purpose so the other person gets the maximum contribution from what I have to say. Ok. What are you going to practice between now and next time?
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I‟m going to be reading a lot. Recording it, listening to how it feels, if it feels congruent. Your homework between now and our next session is to notice what signs there are in having recorded your speaking from reading when you feel most congruent, connected. Let me know. Ok. I‟ll be recording a lot. How would you know when I listen to it and say, yes, I‟m connected? When you feel disconnected, you find your attention wandering and then you are going, „He‟s losing me‟ as you are the listener to your own voice. And when you feel connected, you find yourself being captivated, you go, „Wow that‟s really great! He‟s really talking right to me.‟ You do know the difference. Because your energy goes up when you feel alert and your energy goes down when you feel put off, disengaged or cut off. It‟s really clear: just follow your energy. Your energy is drawn to the edge of your seat when you are listening, when you got it, you feel connected, engaged. Your energy dissipates when your attention wanders, when the speaker has lost you. Really simple. And the answer is, rather than attempting to get it right, simply practice. Now I‟ve got a few tricks that you‟ve taught me and I‟ll put them to practice.

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