One of a multi-part series on how our voice can serve, move and influence.
The sound of our voice and how we use it are important and make us feel good. A 2012 article in Evolution and Human Behavior reported just hearing the voice of our loved ones versus a text conversation reduces our blood cortisol levels and heightens the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone associated with bonding.
I received an email from someone I’ve never met and most likely never will. As a voice actor, aside from a client’s gratitude, I rarely know how my storytelling affects the listener. My delight and surprise at receiving the message was surpassed by how deeply their words affected me.
I know you don’t know me. I just wanted to write and say that I really enjoyed your narration for the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NLS.) Yes, I’m totally blind. It was a pleasure to hear such a warm and human voice giving life to the characters.
Never underestimate our human ability to connect, regardless of distance and time. I’m grateful to know I reached someone, and they reached back. A poignant reminder the thing I love to do – connecting with my voice – is a is an act of service.
How are you connecting?
Let’s start in the most basic way: Be yourself. Yeah, yeah. I know. Be authentic. Show us as you are. Yada, yada. But how we show up – vocally, as well as physically – creates genuine connection. And humans like that. When you think of someone who commands the room in meetings or plain, old conversations, what makes them memorable, their words and ideas valued? Studies show our voice influences our impressions.
Our voices matter as much as our words matter. They have the power to awaken the senses and lead others to act, close deals, or land us successful job interviews. When we struggle to get our message across, it’s a good time to physically write down what our mission is, what story we want to tell and how we want to serve our client or friend when we communicate it. If we’re clear about our intent and what we have to offer when we craft our written message, our mind, and voice will follow along when we connect with the emotion behind those words.
Our voice is as unique as our fingerprint, so it follows our vocal imprint contributes to our success, and even contributes to perceived attractiveness and charisma.
We create nuances of meaning, our emotional state and can develop communication skills to elevate executive presence — that je ne sais quoi in speakers who attract us with their confidence and charm, a skill that can be developed and refined with time and practice.
In the next post, discover what your vocal image is and how to elevate it.
Happy New Year!
Sick of New Year’s resolutions that fizzle up by January 31? Go for a fresh start instead.
Have you heard of the ‘fresh start effect’?
Research states occasions like New Year’s, birthdays, holidays or even the beginning of a week or month are associated with increased aspirational behavior, These ‘temporal landmarks’ help people split their perception of time into “before” and “after,” and help you bounce back from any previous failures, real or imagined.
Fresh starts or ‘performance resets’ generally follow less-than-stellar periods of personal/professional performance. If this is your experience, give yourself time to recover and grace to ensure a more resilient mindset coming into it.
Although I’m not a fan of resolutions – it feels like a lot of pressure to put on one year – I love the idea of fresh starts. It seems more optimistic to work on something new than to reverse a habit, or continue to brood over what might have been or regrets about missed opportunities.
My yearly reset always includes making something – whether it’s a series of fabulous dinners, a beaded bracelet or a ceramic vase, creativity gets me out of my head and back into the flow of life. For years, I have marked late December and the darkest time of the year by bringing my inner gardener, well, inside, and planting Paperwhite, or Narcissus, bulbs. While most flowers lay dormant through winter, Paperwhites rise and shine, an act of both courage and optimism.
Here’s a quick tutorial, if you’re new to indoor gardening.
While those tender green sprouts shoot up, I emerge as well, ready to sow seeds to new projects and new relationships as a nurture the old ones.
Although I’m not a fan of resolutions – it feels like a lot of pressure to put on one year – I love the idea of fresh starts. It seems more optimistic to work on something new than to reverse a habit, and if you start small, those fresh starts can feel less overwhelming.
Ready for a fresh start? Here are a few suggestions to get started.
- Plan your goal and set up specific, measurable and actionable steps to achieve it. It’s not how big the goal is, it’s your commitment to it.
- Start with a clean slate. Er, make that clean desk and computer. I waste more time looking for a misplaced file than it takes me to do the actual work. Organize. Prioritize. Purge what no longer serves. Even that ridiculous to-do list that never gets smaller. Simplify.
- Organize your time. We often spend time jumping from one task to the next, never completing any of them. We’re busy but not very productive. We can do it all at once. So set a time limit for each task, turn off distractions and get ‘er done. Are there tasks you can delegate to someone who can do them better? Do that!
- Talk to your people. Those are Human Resources, vital to your success, mental health and social life. I’m a big fan of one-to-one Zoom sessions and small networking groups. The coffee meet up is a favorite as well. However you connect, just connect.
- Explore new ideas. Novelty, innovation, different points of view. They all provide that spark of inspiration, lead to new paths. Let go of the fear of failure and revel in curiosity and possibility. Have a conversation with a stranger. Go to a museum. Take up soccer or ballroom dancing or soccer. Fall on your butt. Then get back up again.
- Chill. You know that thing about all work and no play. Play. Break out the tunes. Take a hike. Take mini breaks during the workday. Even a 30 second walk around the house/office is a good reset after sitting all morning. If I’m standing at the mic for a couple of hours at a time, I enjoy some yoga stretches and deep breaths. Only you can prevent burn out. Be kind to yourself and relax.
Plant those seeds/or bulbs and see what emerges. And please, tell me about it.
Remember, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.