We at Trischel have been working on a script for an exciting project – (there will be more to tell at a later date) – but the preparation took time and the practice even more.
Those who have spent a day with us will now hear the sound of Trish’s voice in their head saying “Preparation, preparation and practice …!”
Yesterday we put it all together and got down to the timings – so we spent the afternoon going over it to ensure that we didn’t run over our allotted time … and again those who have attended our one day course will now know that yes, we do practice what we preach.
But while I was timing the presentation, I was conscious of the day around me. We had decided to practice outside in the garden, under the shade cloth. The sun was shining, and there was a gentle breeze. The jasmine is just beginning to flower and there was just a hint of perfume in the air. Occasionally a drowsy bee hummed past on his way to the full flowering azalea … it felt good to be alive.
And then I turned my attention back to what Trish was saying; and I realised the truth of Angelou’s thoughts – “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” ~ Maya Angelou (American Poet b. 1928)
Trish had reached the part of the script that I had prepared – my area of expertise so to speak – and yet when I listened to it being spoken I realised that Trish had brought out shades of meaning that I had been unconscious of. And once again I was amazed at the infinite possibilities of the human voice.
I first became interested in what we could do with our voice when I visited the Royal Shakespeare’s Company production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in Stratford. It was a play that we were studying at school and I make no apologies, I was struggling. I found the words difficult, the concepts unbelievable and the whole deal somewhat of a bore. The trip had been arranged by our teacher and I was not looking forward to it. On the night I settled myself in for a rough ride … and then the play began.
I cannot remember the names of the actors except that Dorothy Tutin played Juliet, but all of a sudden Shakespeare came alive. The difficult flat words that I had struggled with in the book took wings and by being spoken aloud became bird-like flights of my imagination. I fell in love with the English language right there and then.
But I realised that between myself and the trained actors who had woken that love in me, there was a huge gap. So I was determined that I would train my voice to be able to bring the written word to life. I was lucky that one of my teachers recognised that passion and the rest, as they say, is history.
The English language is actually very musical; it has a natural rhythm that we often forget. In the modern habit of short cut texting we are losing much of what gives pleasure in the spoken word. But who can really forget the pleasure of a good story teller, one whose voice paints the picture for us, who vocalises the characters, bringing them to life in our imagination. I can still remember ghost stories that even now can curl my hair!
What many fail to realise is that often we only have our voice to depend on when selling our message. When we call our clients, they cannot see us – and so can’t be dazzled by our brilliant body language. They only hear what we say and the way in which it is said. If we get that wrong we fail to impress.
The sound of our voice is unique; we can recognise a voice without even seeing the person. This is because much of our vocal qualities are created by our physical makeup – the size of the vocal chords, the shape of the jaw, the tongue etcetera … but there is much that we can do to improve the “medium of the message”
A good speaking voice is deemed to be pleasant, natural, audible and emotive. The ability to bring emotion into the voice is one of the true characteristics of a great actor. While we may not be aiming for an Oscar, we can improve our chances of winning the sales pitch if we work on our vocal characteristics.
One of the easiest ways to improve the quality of our voice is to start reading aloud. If we have children or grandchildren then we are made. They will be happy to sit and listen to us for hours. But, if we are not lucky enough to have this benefit, there is still the opportunity to practice reading aloud … have you investigated the fabulous acoustics in the bathroom yet!!
Our voice is a treasured gift, and probably one that we haven’t given too much thought to, but it is one of the greatest tools we have in our quest for better communication skills. Pick up a story book, or chose a poem you recall from school and start to read aloud. You will begin to feel the rhythm of the language; you will sense the rise and fall of pitch and volume to demonstrate the emotion of the words.
Maya Angelou said “It takes the human voice to infuse [words] with shades of deeper meaning.” ~ and that take practice to achieve. And practice is really all up to us, isn’t it? So go on – brush up your Shakespeare!