Confidence

Thought Prompt: What Emotional Masks are You Wearing?

I’d like to open this post with a three line workplace scene:

Client’s Boss: Are you ok? You seem a little different or low today.

Client: Yeah, I’m really good. My vocal coach told me that I could show up to this meeting as my authentic self, without forcing a smile or wearing any masks, so that’s what I’m practicing.

Client’s Boss: That sounds amazing! I’m going to practice that, too.

There is so much to be learned from this teeny tiny exchange.

Let’s take a closer look…

This client had been playing a role at work for a while. People had come to expect her to be joyful and energetic all the time, and she was (unknowingly) putting a lot of energy into simply maintaining this appearance, rather than confidently stating her objectives or ideas. Because of this, she found herself in a situation in which her thoughts and requests were not being heard or considered, which led to her feeling unsupported, which was making her feel burnt out and resentful.

I had given her permission to go into the meeting as her authentic, professional, educated and experienced self, and not spend any energy on maintaining her mask, and invited her to notice if anything shifted. She was armed with breathing and grounding tools to keep her calm and present as she put her mask down and showed up as authentically as possible for the meeting itself.

The results were so good.

One one hand, her boss initially – and not at all unexpectedly, thought something was wrong with her. She had let go of the ‘cheerful’ routine.

On the other hand, upon being asked about it her first impulse was to stand up for her authenticity rather than retreat into a fake smile “no, I’m totally fine” mode. Once she did this and realized she was safe, she was able to get to the real work of the meeting, and have an honest conversation with her boss about her job.

After the meeting, she felt so much relief. What a victory to just be oneself and get down to the actual work of doing work! A big weight was lifted.

Additionally, when she bravely and thoughtfully explained the situation, her boss responded with complete understanding, support and camaraderie. This created a beautiful feedback loop of safety. And perhaps his eyes had also been opened to something new, and now he has another tool to help him support his team members.

Everyone wears masks. Even me. Even you.

The story above represents a common experience that women encounter in their personal and professional lives. The ‘you should smile more’ story.

However…

People across all genders, cultures, professional and personal backgrounds will find themselves wearing masks throughout their daily lives for all sorts of reasons.

Clients of all types come to me for things like jaw tension, enunciation problems or projection issues. Not opening one’s mouth to speak is a major indicator of mask-wearing or hiding. In fact, in my opinion, most voice or speech issues are related to mask-wearing or hiding.

What keeps us behind the mask?

Emotional masks are a key tool for living in a social world. They are helpful and necessary. Like other coping and survival strategies, we develop masks as we grow up in order to keep us safe. Sometimes we absolutely need to have a good poker face.

And…

As with other survival strategies that we pick up as we journey through our lives, its helpful to notice when our masks no longer serve us anymore, or when they are trying to protect us from a threat that isn’t real or no longer exists, or when they are actually getting in the way of our safety or causing us problems.

So often we don’t even realize we’re wearing a mask, or recognize the impact it is having.

Our reasons for hiding are usually old and live deep within us. It can be a thought or a feeling we’ve carried since childhood, or the result of an acute moment of danger (social or physical), or a mechanism that developed over years of being treated a particular way.

Because the survival strategy develops itself automatically, we’re not always aware that it’s even there, so like any kind of growth work, it starts with looking around inside the corners of yourself.

Some common reasons for hiding that come up in my coaching work are:

– What if they hear my accent and think that I don’t belong here?

– What if I say the wrong thing or sound like an idiot?

– What if the truth is that I just really don’t want to be here and I’m pretending that I do?

– What if I let my mask go and my physical or emotional safety is at risk?

– What if I let my mask go and other people think I’m a threat?

– What if I’m not who they think I am?

– What if I really need to say something, but don’t have the right words or the courage?

– What if I speak my truth and everything changes?

Any of that sound familiar? Yeah, me too.

By the way, we don’t only wear masks around others, we totally wear masks with ourselves, too! Being a human is so tricky!

Time to look at YOUR masks.

You knew this part was coming. 🙂

Listen, I don’t want to imply that all your masks need to – or even should come down. And I’m not here to suggest that letting go of an old belief or survival strategy is easy or simple. This email is just a starting place.

And…

It’s true that people commonly respond to us in more healthy and authentic ways when we present them with our more healthy and authentic selves.

At the very least, analyzing some of your outdated or outmoded masks and finding one or two to set down will give you SO MUCH energy back. You can then use that energy to foster a sense of genuine safety within your inner world, learn to trust your own authenticity, and start connecting with the world outside of you in a whole new way.

Sounds super exciting and scary AF, right?!

So then, your thought prompt for this week is:

What is a mask that are you wearing that no longer serves you?

What would it feel like to put that mask down and feel safe to be you?

What would feel supportive as you take that first step and give it a try?

Reach out and share your thoughts!

I LOVE hearing from you guys when something in these posts sparks you. Email me directly or leave a comment below.

2 Thought Prompts: Letting Go + Habitual Moods

I’m going to keep this one short, but I’d like to offer a couple of thought prompts that I’ve been using in my own personal development over the past few weeks that have been really impactful.

What is something you need to let go of?

I like to think about this at the beginning of the day to let go of any limiting beliefs, or leftover nonsense from the day before. It helps me focus on what’s real and what’s now. It creates a lot of mental clarity with which to start the day.

I like to think about this at the end of the day to help me let go of any mistakes or missteps (perceived or real) that I might have made, moments of doubt, etc, that I experienced throughout the day. Journaling on this prompt right before bed really helps me minimize the middle-of-the-night anxiety. It has a nice undercurrent of self-compassion and forgiveness.

What is your prevalent mood? Is this how I really feel, or is it a habit? Does it serve me?

This one is great for calling bullshit on yourself. One example is, I am originally from the Boston area, and people from that area looooove to complain. We complain about the weather, the sports teams, our aches and pains, you name it. Complaining about stuff is basically the unofficial love language of New Englanders. It’s how we bond…over how shit everything is. (❤️💩❤️)

Sometimes, when I catch myself complaining a lot (internally or externally), I self-check. Is this really how I feel, or is this just an old habit? Does this serve me? My negativity can definitely be habitual. And it usually isn’t serving me. Calling myself out on it allows me to see what (if anything) is actually bothering me (I’m usually just hungry) and address it, or it reminds me that everything is actually super awesome, and it reconnects me with my gratitude.

I’d love to hear if/what these prompts spark for you. To share your thoughts drop a comment below.

Thought Prompt: What am I Choosing?

Thought Prompt: What am I Choosing?

The end-of-year holiday time carries with it an invitation to reflect, rest, and reset. If your inbox looks like mine, you’ve already been getting a lot of messages with tools and advice for closing out this year, and establishing your goals and intentions for the next year. Both the closing out and the setting up are important processes, and there are many wonderful ways to do both.

Whatever tools you use to close out this crazy year and march forward into the new year with new intentions and goals, I invite you to consider weaving this idea into the mix:

 

👉 Years are made of moments, and every moment is an opportunity to choose.

If 2020 has taught us anything it is that there is a lot that we don’t have control over.  And yet…there is still a lot that we do have control over. Things like our reactions, our activities, how we behave in our relationships, our career moves.

I have recently woven the prompt ‘what am I choosing?’ into the course of my daily life. I find that it is a helpful guide in just about every area of life.

This prompt helps me check in with my mood. For example, if I’m angry I ask myself ‘Am I choosing to be angry? Do I want to be angry? If not, is there another mood I would like to choose?’

It helps me plan my day. For example, when my schedule has too many appointments I ask myself ‘Am I choosing to put everyone else’s scheduling needs before my own? How can I choose to show up for others while caring for myself?’

It helps me come boldly back out to the light when I feel like I’m hiding, and it helps me retreat back to solitude when I feel overextended.

In addition to helping me align with the actions that I take…

 

This prompt helps me stay aligned with who I want to be, and how I want to show up in the world.

Am I choosing love over hate. Am I choosing to model the behaviors I want to see more of? Am I choosing patience, self-compassion, and understanding. Am I choosing to show up for difficult things in meaningful ways? Am I choosing to use my voice for good? Am I choosing actions and activities that align with my purpose?

As with any good thought prompt, this email barely scratches the surface of all the ways this idea can be applied and used to examine what’s going on in your life.

As you close out this year and set yourself up for next year, perhaps the questions might look like:

What have I been choosing?

What am I choosing now?

What would I like to choose going forward?

Perhaps they might look like something else. Perhaps you will choose not to think about these questions at all, and that’s fine, too.

The choice is yours.

Share Your Thoughts.

We’d love to hear whether you found these tips helpful, and what other tips you’ve used to strengthen your voice.

Tell Your Friends.

Click the share buttons at the bottom of this post to spread the word, if you found this helpful. And sign up for the mailing list for your periodic dose of inspiration, motivation, tips, tricks, and tools to help you Own Your Voice.

4 Thought Prompts to Help Start the Day with Intention

Just about every morning me and my bestie do a little check in via text message. The timing of the check in and the content of the conversation flow a little differently from day-to-day, but no matter what else we talk about, we almost always support each other in grounding back into the present moment with these four simple prompts.

This little ritual evolved into being over the past 8 years of friendship, and it has become a vital component of my day. So much so that if for some reason we are unable to connect on a particular day, I will usually stop at some point and pose these prompts to myself. They work great with a friend to hold your reflections and mirror things back to you. They are also fantastic for solo self-inquiry.

The four prompts are:

– Happy New Day!
– How’s your breath?
– What do you have going on today?
– What would feel supportive?

 

Here’s why I find these prompts to be so powerful:

1) Happy New Day!

Happy New Day! is a celebration of the fact that we are here another day. It’s a new day! Yahoo! There is no focus on what day of the week it is. It’s not about living for the weekend. Rather it’s about living each day as if it has the possibility of being the best day ever, because it totally does.

Also, the fact that it is a new day puts to bed any nonsense or shenanigans that took place the day before. Happy New Day implies a fresh start. A clean slate. A chance to show up and try again.

On top of that, Happy New Day also implies a chance to show up with whatever new skills or goodness we onboarded the day before. Had a moment of sheer brilliance yesterday and woke up feeling super confident? Great!  How will you let that confidence shine through and inform everything you do on this fresh clean slate that is called Today?

2) How’s your breath?

I love this question because it immediately calls the person being asked to take a breath. This initial ‘reset’ breath brings you back to your body and back to this moment. It starts the process of calming the nervous system and waking up the cells in the body. It helps the brain become clearer and creates some space and relaxation in the muscles. We can connect with all the good yummy things we seek in our daily lives by reconnecting with our breath.

‘How’s your breath?’ can be a loaded question, or a question you might hesitate to answer because so often we simply don’t breathe. We have a tendency to sit there holding our breath without even realize it. There are gaziiiiillions of reasons why we hold our breath including stress, fear, confusion, curiosity, avoidance, and that go-go-go lifestyle we’ve all fallen into, to name a few. This call to take a reset breath is a beautiful reminder that it’s ok to be in the here and in the now, that you are safe, and that you can not only get through this day or this situation, but that you can do it with poise and grace.

This question is not just a call to notice when you’re holding, though. It’s also a call to notice when your breath is flowing freely and you feel super great. Sometimes in our culture we forget that it’s totally permissible to feel totally great. If you feel really open and full, this call back to the breath is a great moment of noticing that beautiful, fluid, comfortable and happy sensation and honoring it fully. By doing so, you will expand your capacity for comfort and for trusting that comfort is ok.

3) What do you have going on today?

Sometimes this question actually gets answered in the ‘how’s your breath’ part of the flow. That’s because when you begin to notice the quality and presence (or lack of presence) of your breath, you often start to become aware of why it feels that way.

On its own, ‘what do you have going on today?’ is a great way to take a deeper look at what you believe you have to do that day, ensure your heart/mind/body are aligned with the tasks on your calendar, plan your energy management and self care strategy, make space for joy and address negative feelings, and to generally become present to where you are right now, and begin the day with clear intentions.

You may be very surprised at what you learn about yourself when you really start to take notice of what you do each day, and how you feel about each thing.

4) What would feel supportive to you?

This is one of my most favorite questions in the entire Universe.

I love the phrasing of this question for so many reasons. For starters, it takes the charge out of the idea of ‘help’. You can be a highly functional, professional, and productive member of society…and you can be all of those things on an even deeper level with the right support.

Receiving support does not imply weakness. It implies that someone else believes in your strength and that they are there to witness and hold you as you continue to build it up.

You deserve to have people support, invest in, and resource you. Furthermore, there are people around you just waiting for the chance to lift you up even further in your life.

I also love the phrasing of this question because it puts the responsibility on the person being asked to come up with the answer that serves them best. Instead of saying ‘How can I help you?’ which implies some sort of power shift or exchange, it calls the person being asked to pull on their inherent wisdom, knowledge and experience to decide what they need or want for themselves. It puts the role of the asker in service to the askee. It requires the asker to check their own ego and ideas at the door and truly show up 100% in support of the askee. This builds trust and confidence for both parties, as well as the relationship at large.

An interesting thing to note about these prompts: 

Sometimes the answer to the questions is ‘I don’t know’.

How’s your breath?
I don’t know.

What have you got going on today?
Blergh, I don’t know.

What would feel supportive?
I dooooooon’t knoooooooow.

It’s totally ok to not know. You are not obliged to make up any answers, sound clever, do research, or whatever your default setting is when you don’t know something.

Allowing yourself to get to know yourself takes enormous amounts of courage. Simply asking the questions is more than enough. Answers will emerge if and when they need to emerge. Your courageous self-inquiry is the most important element in this practice.

All Day Every Day…

So, that sums up my four favorite prompts to start the day with. These prompts are great for anytime of day, really. They work for any situation or mood…whether you’re frustrated and seek a time out and a reset, or you feel great and you want to memorize that feeling.

How Does this Connect to Vocal Confidence Coaching? 

Q) Sam, you’re sweet and everything, but what do any of these recent email updates have to do with voice, speech, presentation, communication, or what you call ‘Vocal Confidence Coaching’?

A) Everything, my love. Everything.

The sound of your voice and your patterns of speech, as well as how you choose or don’t choose to speak up in a meeting or to give a presentation, as well as your ability or inability to speak up for yourself when it matters most, or any scenario in which you do not feel truly seen, heard or understood all have their roots in your relationship with yourself, and what you believe about your place in this world.

Truly speaking and communicating with clarity and confidence requires an embodiment of clarity and confidence within. You can learn vocal technique to help with enunciation and projections. You can count your filler words like ‘um’ and ‘ah’ and the like. You can learn about eye contact and hand gestures, and all sorts of tactical and practical skills – and any of those specific skills you need to build are woven right into your unique Vocal Confidence Coaching program.

The thing is, if you are continuously afraid to be your most authentic self in a given situation, then none of those skills will fully serve you.

Sure, how you speak, what you say, and how you say it are important.

But if you are constantly hiding, or living an old story of yourself, or worse…someone else’s story of you, then are you really getting your point across? Are you really stepping up into your fullest potential?

Vocal Confidence Coaching is designed to help people become confident and effective communicators and leaders. The underlying requirement is that you’ve got to be willing to explore the idea that underneath the layers of life-crust, shoulds, protective habits, behaviors and beliefs that have built up around you, there is a grounded, confident and self-loving person with a deep reservoir of untapped knowing and potential. These posts are speaking to that person.

If you are interested in getting know that person more deeply, while also building new communication and leadership skills, then book an exploratory call and let’s get curious together about what magical possibilities are waiting for you.

Share Your Thoughts.

We’d love to hear whether you found these tips helpful, and what other tips you’ve used to strengthen your voice.

Tell Your Friends.

Click the share buttons at the bottom of this post to spread the word, if you found this helpful. And sign up for the mailing list for your periodic dose of inspiration, motivation, tips, tricks, and tools to help you Own Your Voice.

What if *You* are the Thought Leader We Need?

Hi friend,

How’s your breath today? I bet while reading that sentence you suddenly found yourself taking a deep breath. I also bet that it was probably the first deep breath you’ve taken all day.

How are you in general? We’ve all been forced to adapt to an unimaginable amount of change throughout these past few months, all while living in constant fear of an ongoing existential and physical threat.

Duuuuude…it’s a lot and you are doing amazing work moving through it all.

But…I’m actually not here to talk about COVID times. There’s enough talk about that going on. I’d like to talk about something else that’s been on my mind for a while now.

A few weeks ago I saw a quote that said “Everybody gets to have a voice, but not everybody gets to have a microphone.” The author was implying that just because we all have equal access to social media and other channels for speaking up and being heard, it does not mean that everyone should have an equal share in thought leadership.

This is a really complex idea that deserves some careful consideration, but I’ll need you to forgive me while I gloss over it for the moment.

Because what this quote really got me thinking about is how many people should have a bigger share in thought leadership, but don’t. I can’t stop thinking about how many people have really meaningful things to say that would, in fact, positively impact the world around them…but they are too afraid to speak up.

How much wisdom, and healing, and creativity, and intellect, and unimaginably innovative delights are hidden in the brains of people who just don’t feel safe to share them?

Woah. Just typing that nearly knocks the wind right out of me.

I work with some of the most well-educated, experienced, intellectually savvy people the world has to offer and yet time and time again I hear things like:

  • “I’m not sure my ideas are good enough.”
  • “I don’t know if I’ll say what they want to hear.”
  • “I’m comfortable when I have to speak to the data, but I have a hard time in brainstorming sessions.”

I can’t even imagine the amount of progress, evolution and growth that is being lost because people with this hard-earned knowledge, these amazing ideas, and this highly refined intuition, people like you (and me) just don’t grab that microphone.

Let me tell you this:

  • Your ideas – even when not fully formed, are good enough. Share. Iterate. Repeat.
  • You have permission to say what YOU want to hear, and thus lead the charge on new ways of thinking about issues.
  • Brainstorming is a ‘storm’ that begins with the brain. Storms are messy. Your messy and imperfect thoughts are a vital component of the process of creating something new.

It’s your turn to grab the microphone.

You can be afraid. That’s ok. I’m afraid a lot of the time, too.

It’s more important that you show up. Be afraid, and show up for it anyway.

If we are going to turn this world into the place it can truly be, we need all hands on deck. We need brave people like you to speak up on all sorts of new things.

This world needs your contributions. It’s time to get to it.

I’m here to help. Maybe you are interested in my style of coaching, maybe you need something else. Reply to this email or click the button to schedule a call and I will help you get headed in the right direction, whatever that direction is.

Sending you all my love during these super crazy weird times.
You’ve totally got this.

Share Your Thoughts.

We’d love to hear whether you found these tips helpful, and what other tips you’ve used to strengthen your voice.

Tell Your Friends.

Click the share buttons at the bottom of this post to spread the word, if you found this helpful. And sign up for the mailing list for your periodic dose of inspiration, motivation, tips, tricks, and tools to help you Own Your Voice.

Be Heard | 4 Steps to a More Confident Voice

This is an updated version of an article first written by Sam Whitehouse and published Sept. 13, 2018.  

A Starter Pack for Those Who Want to Speak Up.

So many people come to me saying things like “I feel like my voice is too thin”, or “I feel like people don’t hear me in meetings”, or “I don’t sound as authoritative as I’d like”, or “I don’t have enough power or depth when I sing.”

While there are many physical and emotional layers to each individual person that contribute to their ability to speak up clearly, I’ve compiled this little ‘starter pack’ of a few simple, but meaningful steps anyone can take in your daily life to help build a little more vocal strength, projection and confidence.

Let’s dive in.

1) Find Your Feet

Bringing awareness to the bottoms of your feet touching the ground is a simple and effective way to upright your posture, while also gently activating your leg, abdominal and lower back muscles, and releasing your neck, chest and shoulder muscles. This coordinated action creates more space in the body to allow for deeper inhales, while also creating the strength and support needed on the exhale to create a more steady, clear, and robust sound.

Additionally, when we stand up straight and connect to our low body it automatically helps us to feel more calm, balanced, open and fluid. Compare that to the anxiety, doubt, hurriedness or stress we feel when we are stuck up in our shoulders, check, neck and throat. Periodically noticing your feet touching the ground throughout the day will help you begin reset your mind/body connection, notice where you hold tension and help you release it, as well as help you feel more generally grounded and confident. Finding your feet right before you have to speak or sing allows you to create a solid foundation and a strong voice from the ground up.

Try This Exercise:

Step 1: Bring your attention to the bottoms of your feet touching the ground.
Step 2: Distribute the weight evenly between the balls and heels of your feet. Notice how you’re already standing up a little straighter.
Step 4: Push your feet into the ground a little bit. Do you feel a little bit taller? Did you shoulders relax a little? Does your spine feel a little more spacious and less compressed?
Step 5: Keep some of your attention on your feet while you take 2 or 3 slow, deep breaths. See if you can inflate our belly a little when you inhale to encourage your shoulders to stay relaxed. Doesn’t it feel good to stand up straight and breathe?
Step 6: Keep some of your attention on your feet while saying a sentence or two. If you’re not sure what to say, just read this sentence out loud.
How did it feel to speak in this posture? Was it a little easier? Did you forget about your feet once you added in the speaking part? What happened to your posture by the end of the sentence? Did it go back to its original more slouchy shape? Go back to step 1 and repeat the sequence a few times and notice what changes to the ease of speaking and the quality and strength of your voice. Then move on to the next section.

2) Open Your Mouth

Although the sound of our voice originates in the throat, we do not project the voice from the throat. It sounds crazy and counterintuitive, I know, but hang in there with me while I explain.

You see, inside your mouth there are the hard surfaces like the teeth, jaw and hard palate, and there are squishy surfaces, like the tongue, the back of the throat and the soft palate. If we try to project the voice by pushing or squeezing our way through the squishy surfaces, it doesn’t work. The voice will quickly get tired, start to crack, feel weak or gravelly, quit working altogether, or otherwise do something to embarrass us or undermine our confidence or authority. Rather, to create a clear, rich tone of voice, we need to essentially bounce the sound off of the hard surfaces in our mouth, so it can launch out into the world. This requires an open mouth.

That’s not to say that the throat and tongue don’t have jobs. They change shape and move around depending on the consonant, vowel, volume, pitch, etc. This also doesn’t imply that the mouth will be open the same amount all the time. Different vowels require different amounts of space in the mouth, but we’ll talk about these details and nuances in a later article. Since most people don’t realize that they’re barely opening our mouth at all, for the purposes of what we are trying to accomplish today, simply noticing when and if your mouth is open will be enough.

Try This Exercise:

Step 1: Stand in front of a mirror.
Step 2: Find your feet like you did above.
Step 3: Say “Hello, My Name is [ ___________].”
How fast did you say it? Did you mumble or were you clear? Did you feel lots of vibrations, squeezing, or activity in your throat?
Step 4: Say the phrase again, this time half as fast.
Did it feel easier? Did it sound clearer? Did you feel fewer vibrations, work or activity in your throat?
Step 5: Open your mouth approximately 2 inches from top to bottom.
Notice how weirdly big your mouth feels.
Step 6: Say the sentence again, very slowly, opening your mouth that big on every syllable: “HEH-LOW, MAI, NAYM, ES….”
That feels even weirder, right? Totally awkward and uncontrollable, yeah? Hang in there…we’re going somewhere good, I promise.
Step 7: Say the phrase one more time without thinking about how big your mouth is. Go nice and slow. Maybe smile a little.
Did it feel nice and easy and extra clear? Was your throat fairly relaxed and did it feel almost effortless to make the sounds?

In this exercise that practice was opening the mouth way too big in order to counteract the fact that we usually open our mouths way too small. Play around with this exercise a few times in the mirror, and see what it feels like when you try opening up different amounts.

3) Inhale More Often

Breathing is a long and lengthy subject that we’ll dig into in later posts. For this article, we’re going to focus on one simple aspect of breathing that will have an impact on the quality of your tone:

Inhale More Often.

To create a rich and clear tone, there are 4 good reasons why you’ve got to inhale more often:

Reason #1: Your body creates sounds by moving air through your vocal chords. If no air goes in, no air comes out. Ergo, no sound is created.

Oftentimes, when we feel we are running out of air as we sing or speak, we speed up and try to get all the words out as fast as we can. The problem with this approach is that not only do we end up running out of breath anyway, our words also trail off or fade away so we aren’t heard.

Reason #2: On top of that, we start gripping the sound in our throat in an effort to regain control, which, as we learned above, will fatigue our voices, minimize our resonance, and completely undermine our strength, stamina and control. The answer is not to rush through with what little air we have, but to instead give ourselves permission, time and space to take another breath.

Reason #3: Breathing calms the nervous system, which helps us stay more relaxed and present. Every time you inhale, you get a little boost of “I’m fine. I can do this.” This makes us more confident going into the next sentence. Each inhale also gives us a mini opportunity to reset our posture and reconnect with our feet on the ground, which creates and maintains additional space and muscle support for the next breath.

Reason #4: Pausing for inhales helps us set the pace of what we’re saying, allowing us extra time and space to enunciate, as well as providing us with the time and space to be authentic and intentional with what we’re communicating.

Try This Exercise:

Step 1: Find your feet.
Step 2: Read the following quote aloud:

“To find one’s center, and one’s own rhythm (of breathing, of moving, of being alone, and of being together with others) is the purpose, and the purpose is found in the process. This means the dropping of defenses, of body armor, of character armor, to become soft and pliant in one’s own inner being.”

Did you take a breath before you began? Probably not. Did you run out of breath somewhere along the way? Probably. Did you feel rushed or nervous? Maybe. Did you open your mouth? I doubt it.
Step 4: Find your feet again.
Step 5: Read the following paragraph aloud, and breathe where prompted. (I suggest inhaling through your mouth for this exercise.)

[Inhale] “To find one’s center, and one’s own rhythm [inhale] (of breathing, of moving, of being alone, and of being together with others) is the purpose, [inhale] and the purpose is found in the process. [inhale] This means the dropping of defenses, [inhale] of body armor, [inhale] of character armor, [inhale] to become soft and pliant in one’s own inner being.”

It changes things to inhale more often, right? How did it change for you? Did you have more power? Were you more clear? Did you sound more confident or authoritative? What did you notice about the way the emphasis shifted? How hard was it to remember to inhale, even with the prompts? Did you feel more calm, relaxed or confident when you got to the end? Did you notice you were opening your mouth a little more without really thinking about it?

4) Slow Down

Our brain thinks at a rate of about 4 times faster than our mouth can speak. Imagine what might happen in a scenario in which you are nervous or uncomfortable. In one of those crazy situations in which time completely warps and you feel intense pressure to blurt out something really clever and important, as fast as you can.

Believe it or not, when you slow down, you can say more. Why? Because it ties together all the things we’ve already covered:

Find Your Feet:
When you slow down, you can take a moment to set up your posture and relax any muscles that are tight. You being from a place of feeling grounded and calm, while also creating more space to breathe. Because you’ll be nice and calm, you won’t fish around for filler words, like ‘uh’, ‘um’, ‘like’, etc, and you’ll get to your point in a more concise manner.

Open Your Mouth:
When we speak more slowly, we have more time to enunciate each syllable of each word. This allows the sound to resonate clearly out of our mouth and into the room. It also helps us pronounce everything more clearly, which enables the listener to understand us better.

Inhale More Often:
Simply put, when you slow your pace, you have more time to inhale, and you don’t rush to the ends of phrases. You feel more calm and in control of what you are saying, and your voice comes out with less effort, and more authenticity, intention, spirit and color. Inhaling more often encourages us to slow down. Slowing down encourages us to inhale more often. Inhaling also reminds us to stand up straight. When we stand up straight, we have more confidence for opening our mouth. When we feel more confident, we speak a little more slowly and articulately. As these things continue to work together more and more, you will notice that your tone will continue to get clearer and richer.

Try This Exercise:

Step 1: Set a timer for 20 seconds and read the quote from the exercise above, while trying to take the entire 20 seconds to do so.
Were you able to fill the 20 seconds? Did 20 seconds go by quickly or feel like an eternity? Did you breathe? Did you open your mouth? Did you maintain your posture?
Step 2: Play with different lengths of time, and move the inhale prompts to different places.
How does the emphasis change? How is your posture affected?

Remember: Consistency Creates Consistency

To really develop vocal clarity and confidence, you’ll want to practice these steps regularly until they become muscle memory. Owning your voice is an ongoing practice, and to be fair, we could spend days and days digging into each one of these steps individually. I hope that this little starter pack has provided you with a simple, yet meaningful way to begin thinking about and practicing these concepts so that you can confidently speak up and be heard.

Share Your Thoughts.

We’d love to hear whether you found these tips helpful, and what other tips you’ve used to strengthen your voice.

Tell Your Friends.

Click the share buttons at the bottom of this post to spread the word, if you found this helpful. And sign up for the mailing list for your periodic dose of inspiration, motivation, tips, tricks, and tools to help you Own Your Voice.