Voice Work in the Business
In the world of commerce and business today there is
general recognition that competence in communication skills is crucially
important for those working in the business world.
This awareness is reflected in the numerous training
courses available but few develop voice work and the more dramatic
aspects that are possible in presentation to any deep level, even though the
power and variety in our energy is intimately linked to the power and variety
we feel in ourselves, and to the way we come across in terms of that
indefinable thing called presence.
Here are two examples:
If a speaker wants to work on feeling and conveying
their personal authority, as a voice trainer, I will look at
patterns in the way the person opens the interaction, body posture and tension
points, body language, the placing and control of breathing, centered voice and
eye contact. These six aspects are crucial in conveying messages about personal
power - and in how the speaker actually feels when they are talking.
Or if there is a sense of a lack of energy
and interest in the speaking, practical work will be done on variety
in the voice - with exercises for pitch, volume, speed, emphasis and pause. We
might explore the use of the vivid picture or surprising words: this may then
extend into work to rephrase parts of a particular speech to create memorable
poetic images. One recent example was when the chairman of a fashion company
with whom I was working rephrased his final sentence in his speech to the
board. It moved from the mundane We need to encourage further
investment if our company is not to face limitations which will affect its
performance next year to the memorable At the moment
our investors are shivering like elegant flamingos on the edge of an unknown
cold lake; it is our job to equip them with the water wings of confidence so
they can plunge into the water - and find it rejuvenating! We also
worked on encouraging his body and voice to express these words with all the
power of an experienced actor but with the subtlety needed for a senior
Voice and communication skills training do not
insult the participant by teaching the obvious. What it does is to provide
independent feedback about a speakers use of these skills, and to enable
conscious positive change to be explored and developed. It is not about
pretending to be other than you are in some kind of deceptive cosmetic
subterfuge - rather it allows patterns to be identified and worked on so that
your personal style of communicating may be as confident, strong, clear and
interesting as you yourself know yourself to be at your best.
Our voice work expert is Christina Shewell, author of Voice Work: Art and Science
in Changing Voices.
Item broadcast on
Radio 4 August 2009 with Stephen Fry and Christina Shewell as part of Fry's
English Delight programme on 'Speaking Proper' (approximately 6 mins).