Learning from our performances

A post-performance evaluation exercise

It has been said that there is no such thing as failure, or a mistake, just opportunities for learning. This is a method for how to learn from a past event that you have been involved in – perhaps leading a project, giving a presentation, taking part in a meeting, having a challenging conversation or encounter, perhaps something you regret. I developed the idea from an exercise on p.291 of ‘Power performance for singers: transcending the barriers’ (Emmons and Thomas, 1998). Emmons and Thomas wisely recommend that we don’t evaluate immediately. It is not unusual for a performer to experience a whole jumble of emotions – euphoria, relief, anxiety, anger, disappointment, deflation, boredom. It is only when these have subsided that we can take a cool look at our performance. Read more ›

The voice as a holistic system: the Voice Pentagon

Voice-Pentagon-02-900x658Our voice is our identity. It is both our deepest, inner self, and a means through which we engage with the world and from which others form an impression of us. The ancient Greeks said that “as men’s life is, so is their talk” – our voices seem to echo precisely everything that we are. This is presumably what prompted Socrates to say, “Speak, that I may see you,” and prompted the title of Boone’s book, ‘Is your voice telling on you?’.

Our voice is also an expression of our power. Through our voice, we can claim our place in the world. The energy and sound of our voices can have both positive and negative intention and impact, as can our words. The voice and the person are indivisible. As Stengel and Strauch say, ““work on the voice, whether conscious or subconscious, is always also work on the self”. Andrews writes: “No problem exists in a discrete form. Any problem that affects the ability to communicate creates social and emotional difficulties. Similarly, social and emotional problems can themselves create or exacerbate communication disorders.” Read more ›

Authenticity Exercise 3: Personal authenticity

Note: You may find it helpful to do Authenticity Exercise 1 and Authenticity Exercise 2 first. Read more ›

Authenticity Exercise 2: Noticing authenticity

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Authenticity Exercise 1: What does ‘authentic voice’ mean?

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Increase your authenticity – 4 principles and 8 practices

Authentic: genuine, sincere; accurate in representation of the facts; truthful; trustworthy in intentions and commitments; not a copy or forgery. From the Greek authentes, one who acts independently, from auto (acting from within), and hentes (a doer).

What’s in a voice?

Socrates famously wrote: “Speak, that I may see you.” The ancient Greeks believed that a person was created ‘per sona’, through sound and vibration. Through our voices, others instantly create a mental image of who we are, what we are feeling, and even what we stand for. Our vocal ‘signature’ – like our personality – is as unique as our fingerprint or DNA.

Work on voice as a physical instrument must happen in parallel with understanding voice as an expression of self. We also need to relate the learning to specific situations in our own work and life. Voicework is not about inventing a voice, but about discovering a sound and way of communicating that is an authentic expression of us, us at our best.

An authentic voice communicates clearly, compellingly and respectfully what is most important. It is compassionate, honest and exciting. An authentic voice has passion, and leads with quiet strength. It is a voice that others trust, because it is trust-worthy. Read more ›

Being authentic in our work

When I met Geoff Bellman, I was struck by what a nice and wise man he was. This is an excerpt from one his books: Geoffrey Bellman (2002) The Consultant’s Calling: bringing who you are to what you do, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, ISBN 0-7879-5847-6, pp.68-70 Read more ›


Feelings provide us with helpful information

Feelings (emotions) give us important information about ourselves. They tell us when our needs are being met, and when they are not. Feelings don’t in themselves tell us what our needs are, but they do provide valuable clues. And once we know what we need, we have a better chance of finding a strategy to get that need met. A fruitful way of getting our needs met is to a) identify the feelings, b) use the feelings as clues to understand what needs are not being met, c) devise strategies that are most likely to get those needs met. This distinction between feelings, needs and strategies is a core component of Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication. Read more ›

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The Vocal Mirror: a tool for change

Outlining a technique that helps explore the unconscious purposes of vocal behaviours. Therapists can train to use this technique, and voice practitioners can extend their intervention skills with clients who seem ‘stuck’ and apparently resistant to the more ‘mechanical’ remedial work undertaken in the voice professions.

[A version of this article was originally presented at the May 2002 AGM of the British Voice Association as Finalist for the prestigious Van Lawrence Prize, and then published in Oxford Psychotherapy Society Bulletin 36, Nov. 2002, pp. 15-17] Read more ›

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