Stop Projecting Your Voice

I’m sure at some point someone has told you that you need to be louder. They’ve likely said to you: “You need to project your voice more!” It’s very possible (likely, in fact) that after this was said to you, you pushed to make your voice louder.

Well I want to suggest that there’s a way to get louder without pushing. It just requires a mental reframe. After all, what is a projectile? It’s something that hurtles out into space and doesn’t return. It’s a missile. And let’s be honest, projectiles often miss their target. So the idea of projecting our voice encourages us to push or force it out into the world, not even necessarily clearly focused on where it’s headed. That’s not what we want! We use our voice for communication, and we want that communication to land somewhere. We’re even probably interested in receiving communication and information back!

So here’s the reframe…

Another word for being louder is using more volume. If we think about it in the physics sense of the word, volume is the space inside a container. For instance, the formula for the volume of a cube or 3D rectangle is length x width x height. You know this!:

volume_box

I want to suggest, then, that we start thinking about getting louder as increasing our volume. This means we start with becoming aware of the 3 dimensional space we want to fill, whether it is all the way to the back of a large theatre or just across the table in a board room. Once we’re mentally clear about the space, we then fill this space with our energy and presence. As we start to make sound, our voice will go where our energy is.

Make sense?

This space can be whatever shape it needs to be. A rectangle, a sphere, or even an amorphous blob. Think about it as a bubble that includes who and whatever you want to hear you. If you keep your bubble unconsciously small and leave some of your audience out of it, you’ll have to push to reach them with your voice. That’s projection. However if you let your energetic bubble become as big as the space you all occupy, your voice will easily follow. That’s volume. And it’s so much easier!

Plus thinking in terms of volume will get you energetically more attuned to your audience, which will make you a better, more present performer or communicator. Ask yourself, why do we show up to see Beyonce or Taylor Swift at a live concert in a huge venue when we could just watch videos later (and we’re probably going to watch most of it on the jumbotron anyway)? It’s because they know how to do this. They know how to fill the volume of a huge space with their dynamic, amazing energy.

So be like Bey and T Swift. Stop projecting. Instead, fill the volume of space with your energy, presence, and you voice. It’s so much more powerful and so much easier.

 

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Creation Through Allowing

This past weekend I shot How Your Voice Works, my new online class about the anatomy and function of the human voice. When it was done and we’d wrapped the shoot, I was in shock.

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Thrilled to be on set for How Your Voice Works

See, How Your Voice Works has been a very surprising project for me. It’s without a doubt the biggest thing I’ve ever created. On one hand it reflects over a decade of study and work (which is a fact that didn’t really sink in until Monday night when I was sitting staring at a glass of wine). On the other hand, the project sprung to life in a way that was unplanned and had a life of its own.

Historically when I think about doing a BIG PROJECT, I feel daunted by the work ahead of me. This is probably because my habit through life has always been pushing. Pushing to get things done, pushing to make things work, pushing to be excellent. Now here’s the thing… pushing is a very necessary part of life. In fact we wouldn’t make it through life without pushing sometimes. However if pushing is out of balance, it can get a person into trouble. One significant instance in which I got into trouble was when I lost my voice because of my habit of vocal pushing and overuse. (I talked about this a lot in my 30th Birthday Cabaret show last May.)

So what’s less work than pushing? Allowing. Which ties back, because the thing that has left me in shock about How Your Voice Works is that so much of this project has been created through allowing. No joke, the universe sent me half this project. Here’s the basic story:

Over the summer I was tired and on the brink of a major autoimmune episode. I had started to envision what How Your Voice Works would be, but I didn’t have the energy to start working on it. I wanted it to happen though, and I could have pushed more to start. A previous version of me would have. Instead though, I let myself rest. (Don’t think I didn’t feel guilty and tortured about this, but I did rest.)

Then in September I was in Ireland on a bus headed to my dear friend’s fairytale wedding, and suddenly How Your Voice Works whooshed into my brain like a gust of wind. I flipped open my iPad and it started to pour out of me. POUR. I had a full outline that afternoon.

Within weeks of returning home to New York City, I had a team. Meetings that were for something else entirely turned into: “Oh my goodness, you should work with me on this project!” I was also scheduled to attend a bunch of movement and voice workshops in October and November. I was anxious about giving up every single weekend to these workshops when I wanted to be writing and researching. Well guess what? Every single workshop yielded some piece of information or knowledge that I needed for How Your Voice Works. My research literally came to me.

Then there was the issue of how to fund the project. My mother suggested I should do a Kickstarter and my first response was: “No! I can’t ask for money for this!” Then I realized it was a brilliant idea. And so many of you (likely reading this!) leapt to my support and my Kickstarter was funded with flying colors. I am so very, very grateful!!

At every turn, the universe collaborated with me on this project, at times practically dragging me along. I am recently obsessed with Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic. In it, she talks about exactly what I’m talking about right now. Creation with ease. Letting projects unfold. Getting beyond our pushing and our fear. Well Liz, How Your Voice Works has been BIG MAGIC. Thank you for showing me what to call it.

The best part – I’m not even done? There’s more to do before How Your Voice Works is released to the world at the end of February. Instead of feeling daunted, though, I feel energized and thrilled.

So pardon me while I go make a list of all the things I have to do to finish bringing this class to life. At the top of the list, I’m going to write in big bold letters:

TO ALLOW