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The Power of Voice

By Ron Gilliland, CPCC

What is your dream? Do you have access to the energy you need to speak powerfully about yourdream?

On August 28, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and delivered his I Have A Dream speech. He mobilized thousands and opened the eyes and hearts of countless others. How did he do it?

His attention was not only on the crowd around him or the words in front of him. It was also inner-directed; to the values he intended to embody, to the images of which he spoke, to whatever supported him in sustaining the energy that created the magic of that moment. As his attention shifted from image to image, to the many aspects of his dream, so did his voice. It moved through a variety of energetic intensities and vocal qualities that compelled people to keep listening and to get into action.

Where do you focus your attention?

Where we place our attention produces an energy in our being and a quality in our voice that either connects us with or disconnects us from others. If we want to shift our energy and the quality of our voice, we need to shift our attention.

What gets in the way?

The most common blocks to our ability to focus are fear and overwhelm. Fear of saying the wrong thing, of upsetting others, narrows our field of attention. And as a defense against overwhelm, we work to avoid and ignore. The resulting lack of awareness slows or completely blocks our ability to shift our energetic level and vocal quality. We box ourselves into a seemingly safe zone which can become a seemingly impenetrable energetic block.

Recognizing the Limits and the Impact of the Default Zone

Our default, one-size-fits-all safety zone, narrows our ability to connect and convey. Imagine if Reverend King's speech had been delivered from a safety zone. 
If we have been speaking from a default, one-size-fits-all zone, our use of the voice has become limited; similar to a musician playing the same set of notes regardless of the song. The voice, having followed our unconscious attention for so many years, now requires some conscious re-placement. The more safety we've been trying to create from ourselves, the stronger the default and the smaller the zone.

The Body Connection

As we look out beyond the voice, we notice that the body has a particular default physicality to it as we speak. It tends to lean forward, stand straight, lean backward, or perhaps go through a set combination of movements as we speak.

Aligning the Voice with Our Passion

I worked with a client whose vision of success included personal prosperity and creating opportunities for others. It was consistent with the enormous heart, energy, and creativity that she operated from in the rest of her life. 
Yet as she spoke of her dream in our phone sessions, I heard a strain in her voice. The register of her voice stayed consistently high. The volume fell at the end of her sentences. In general her voice sounded caged, as if it wanted to break free. 
When I asked her about her physical posture, she discovered a tendency to cave slightly inward and to lean forward. We also talked about her breathing, and she noticed that it was somewhat constricted. We explored different points of focus, consciously re-placed her voice lower in her throat, and opened up her body posture. It was inspiring to begin to hear the energy of her dream resonate in her voice. She was up to big things, and it was time for a bigger voice.
She described her experience as a "Slowing down, a settling into my body, so that the voice came from more of me."

How I came to discover this work

I became aware of my default zone during a year-long leadership training intensive. The feedback that I received from the leaders and other participants was that they wanted to see more range in the way that I interacted with the group. 
Ironically, from my earliest remembrance, I was imitating the voices of entertainers and politicians on TV and the characters in our little town. Yet somehow I had unwittingly developed an adult persona that had a monochromatic way of being. I could connect with people. I could communicate to them that I cared. I could sell a product and a service. But when it came to expressing my passion and leading people, I ran into seemingly impenetrable energetic blocks.
As a result of my frustration of not being able to break through what the leaders called “energetic holdback,” I gave myself a homework assignment to look for ways of becoming more self-expressed. The first thing I did was to sign up for voice-acting classes.

Acting Out My Range

In my first voice-acting class, the assignment was to read a monologue three times, conveying a different attitude with each read. The director told me to imagine I was talking to someone so that it didn’t sound like I was just reading a script. In order to convey a sincere, respectful attitude I was directed to see in my mind’s eye someone who I admired and respected. To convey anger, I was directed to see in my mind’s eye someone who pushes my anger buttons. And to convey a lighthearted feeling, I was directed to see in my mind’s eye someone who makes me laugh. I was also directed to adjust my posture and body movements to match the feelings I was trying to convey. 
As I took that direction, the energy in my body shifted, and the quality of my voice followed.

My “Aha”

The director in a voice-acting class pointed me to what proved to be a profoundly useful discovery. What I discovered was a way to access more of my own range and tools with which I could coach my clients. Voice Coaching for Coaches and Leaders emerged as I directed my clients to align their intention with the conscious placement of their attention. Regardless of the coaching agenda, how and where a client places the power of their attention and how they hold and move their body can give them access to unrealized aspects of themselves. It is a key to finding their authentic voice because it unlocks the channel between the voice and the heart.

Coach as Director

Instead of a script of words, it’s a script of circumstances. Instead of a character in a play, it’s a client deciding who they need and want to be in life. The Coach as Director calls the client forth by directing them with tools and principles transferred from the art of theater to the art of living. 

Where will you be standing when you deliver your I Have A Dream speech?

How to contact Ron:

Ron Gilliland, Voiceover Artist and Certified Professional Coactive Coach, is available to coach individuals, couples, and groups. He is also the creator of productive and fun workshops and retreats in Bodega Bay, California.
Contact him for more information.
phone: (707) 478-4491, 
e-mail: CoachRon@DefiningSuccess.com 
website: www.DefiningSuccess.com.

© 2002, Ron Gilliland CPCC,  all rights reserved

 

 

 


 


 

 

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