Use Your Voice to Serve

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.

Hello Liz,

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.






Replace Your New Year’s Resolutions

Replace Your New Year’s Resolutions

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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!
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.


Want Better Conversations? Get a Dog.

Want Better Conversations? Get a Dog.

As a voice actor, I receive a lot of auditions that request a ‘conversational read’. The style requires voice talent to sound relatable, likeable and empathetic. It’s the voice of a good friend or trusted adviser. As if you’re in, you know, a conversation.

It strikes me that in a time when the marketing version of conversation is so popular, our real-world conversation is decidedly not. Genuine, engaged conversation – that give and take of ideas information and feeling – is often absent in a world filled with noise and hit-and-run commentary.

Over the last two years I have advocated better conversations to understand each other, to see each other as human beings rather than opinions. Or punching bags. Find common ground.
We have much more in common with each other than we think.

So, in the spirit of better, more connected conversations, I propose this solution: Get a dog. (more…)

Arts and Culture: What It’s Worth

Director, choreographer, and playwright Michael Bobbitt has dedicated his professional career to arts leadership. As Executive Director of the MA Cultural Council, Michael is the  highest-ranking cultural official in Massachusetts.  Before he  joined the Council last year, he served as Artistic Director of the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown, MA, and the Adventure Theatre-MTC in Maryland. He has served as an Associate Professor of Theatre at both the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Howard University.. (more…)

Banish Fear and Comparison, and Lead

Pauline Cheung is a confidence coach works with people to transform the fears that can hold one back to the unwavering confidence to move forward in life and career. From an early age, Pauline herself unconsciously picked on messages it was not safe to be herself. It wasn’t until after she graduated college she decided to figure out what she wanted to do and who she wanted to be. 

What she learned through her experiences, and through piecing together advice from mentors and coaches, is that the fear is normal. Fear shows up when we’re on the cusp of stepping into something big, whether it’s a stronger presence in meetings, shifting into a new role, or promoting our personal brand. The solution wasn’t to get rid of fear (which never worked for long), but transform her relationship to fear, which lead her to a successful career that includes international marketing for The Disney Companies. 

Our two-part conversation can be heard on my Embark podcast.  Many thanks to Pauline for sharing her story, and for answering these five questions. (more…)

Publishing, Healthcare and Ghosts

Author Elizabeth Splaine has had several lives: hospital administrator, opera singer, vocal coach, audiobook narrator and writer. As a guest on my podcast Embark, we talked about her latest novel Devil’s Grace, the healthcare system, unexplained phenomenon and the power of forgiveness. If you’re looking for a summer read, check out Devil’s Grace. In the meantime, get to know Elizabeth a little better as I pose five questions following our recorded conversation.  (more…)

Speaking Gigs, Humor and TMI

The ultimate multitasker and ‘parallel’ entrepreneur, Bobbie Carlton is an award-winning marketing and PR professional and founder of Innovation women. Often called ‘Boston’s Innovation Den Mother’ and ‘the Startup Fairy Godmother,’ Bobbie’s on a mission to introduce women speakers to more audiences and change the dynamic of the ‘manel,’ the all male speakers panel. We spoke last week on my  Embark podcast.  She graciously answered a few more questions here.  (more…)

How to Make a Profit without Selling Your Soul

Ean Price Murphy is a business owner, business coach and Certified Profit First™ Professional. She enjoys sharing her perspectives on small business, bookkeeping and the strategies companies can use to better manage cash flow and maximize profit. We shared an insightful, entertaining and fun conversation last week on my Embark podcast. Here are five more questions for Ean. (more…)

Gender Identity, Social Justice and the Media: Five Questions for Lyralen Kaye

Lyralen is passionate about social justice. Their work as an actor, educator, activist and writer supports the same vision: truth in storytelling and equality for all people. They are also the show runner at Another Country Productions.

One reviewer of their work says “…[Lyralen] takes up so many difficult topics with such a strong sensitivity, finesse and power and at the same time makes you want to both laugh and cry.” We spoke on my Embark podcast last week about her groundbreaking web series Assigned Female at Birth. They answer a few more questions here. (more…)

Rise Above Noise: Strategic Email Marketing with Susan Finn

Susan Finn believes marketing is an act of service to those who are currently searching for exactly what you offer. She focuses on helping clients create a list growth to build and email strategy that feels generous while it attracts, nurtures and converts subscribers. Susan generously shared her wisdom and experience as a guest on my Embark podcast last week. Here are answers to five questions I posed. (more…)