The Power of Words
Words can make us or break us! "I love you" said for the first time with a new partner fills us with joy, while "it's not you, it's me" sends a clear signal we are about to break up with someone.
In the office environment too we use words and phrases also for effect. "That sounds interesting BUT....", "Let's form a project committee for that issue" and "What a fantastic idea". The question is though, how often are you thinking about your word choices?
At the moment, I am reading the book titled 'Words can change your brain' by Mark Robert Waldman and Andrew Greenberg and they discuss that negative and positive words can literally wire your brain chemistry and change neural activity.
Think of the 'killer phrases' used in the office or over used words like 'awesome' and 'game changer'. These words can bring down the energy of a good conversation, leaving people feeling underwhelmed when overused. We ought to avoid these cliché phrases and words as they do more harm. Why do we use them? I suspect often we feel like the need to say something. They become as useless as filler words like 'um', 'ah', 'oder' and 'aber'. We try to inspire, sound witty or intelligent, but miss the point that we can only inspire change in ourselves. People need to arrive at our ideas in there own time. Your word choices can repel or even offend. Another point made in the book is that we all carry different meanings to the same words and in many ways, no two people are alike in their usage of language and understanding of word meaning. Hence the problem with overused phrases.
This brings about immense challenges when we think about how we communicate. It is up to us make sure we are clear and understood, as we intended. I am sure you have been in a situation where you said something and it was taken in a completely different direction by the person you spoke to. Waldman and Greenberg offer many solutions to communication in the book. Several I am working with and thinking about at the moment include:
what is executive voice coaching?
We all have a voice. Many of us develop our voices during our adolescence from singing in choirs, taking speech and drama training or being in the debating team. Like so many skills though, they are not formally taught as part of a curriculum in schools. Many schools will hold an annual speech contest or debating competition but few students are taught how to speak and present effectively. Even Toastmasters has speeches on vocal variety and speaks of developing your body language, but they don't discuss how to develop your voice.
This is where a Vocal Coach can be someone to think about. For me, voice coaching is not only developing your voice but your whole personality and presence as well.
"If our eyes are the window to our soul. Our voices are the expression of it!"MY journey into the world of voice coaching started when I sought to combine my understanding of voice from the world of Opera I had been involved in for over 10 years as a professional Opera Singer, with my learnings from my ICF Professional Coaching Diploma I completed in 2014. When I then started with Toastmasters back in 2015, I could suddenly see a way I could help others. Bringing my understanding and experience in breathing, dynamics, tempo, vocal range, character development, story arch, stage placement, lighting and working with others together, to help public speakers and those whose 'performance' is in board rooms, meetings and other company or community events. This gave me confidence to be able to help.
Now since 2017, I have offered more and more Voice Coaching sessions. These involve for instance, by using the GROW model of coaching, helping people to understand:
Goal - What do they want to improve about their voices? What aspects of their self would they like to bring into their voice? What personal development can be achieved through vocal development?
Reality - What feedback have they received so far? Many come as someone told them they need to present better, sound less monotone and bring more energy to their work. In reality too, how much does this person want to improve? Do they have opportunities to practice and develop over the next few months? How invested are they in this potentially transformative coaching?
Options - This is where the fun begins. By 'rehearsing' and learning to 'play' with our voices, we can begin to unlock options that might be suitable in different contexts. Sometimes this is where coaching turns into mentoring by providing solid advice on breathing, words, dynamics and other 'operatic' aspects. I bring my full toolbox of techniques and buffet of information to help the client best succeed and to take the 'small steps' towards developing their vocal confidence.
Way Forward - Ultimately though, a person must find their way. My job is partially complete when people takes ownership of their voice and decides from our options, what they would like to try out, implement for a week or even a month and where they want to develop further. Seeing people develop their skills and return excited from new opportunities and progress gives me confidence that what I do works.
Whether I work with Executives, students, Retirees or my fellow Toastmasters, I am always looking for the best way people can empower themselves. To become more aware, intentional and purposeful with their voices. To 'execute' with awareness and vocal power. Being aware of what is the best vocal tone and presence for this moment. There is no one size fits all, but bringing intention allows a person to create impact and give energy to those they interact with. This bring purpose, as the results will be seen for the person. Their objective for Coaching in the beginning can be fulfilled.
If you want to find out more about what I do and how I do it, let me know, I would be happy to talk with you further. firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on LinkedIn.
Circle of influence
How much influence do you have over yourself? On others? On your closest friends and loved ones? On the internet and the world? Perhaps less than you think.
These days, many of us want to increase our influence. Me included. I feel the social media pull to contribute, to create content and express my talents and skills to help others. To be of influence to someone. In working with my Mentor and reading again 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey, I see that it is not important how far of an influence I have. I will never be Bill Gates, or Gary Vaynerchuck or in popular mainstream media, so I need to reflect and rethink. I need to be of positive influence first on myself.
My Mentor reminded the Q&A group I was in recently, to aim to improve 1% per month. In other words, work on yourself. First. This will positively influence those around you. They will grow and be impacted and influence those around them and so the circle of influence grows. This is the circle we can control. Not how many likes and hits we will get. What aspects of ourselves, can we influence therefore?
For one, we can be responsible for our communication. Many of the 7 habits Stephen Covey discusses can be applied to communication. How we talk to ourselves, realising we have some control in our decisions and abilities and of course how we speak to others. Instead of allowing external influences to take full control, we can be responsible.
In our communication with others:
Using technology in adult teaching
After nearly 2,000 hours of training adults in Business English around the world, it is important to stop and reflect on what works well and what could be improved. When I first started adult teaching English in Vienna in 2015, teaching was still largely paper based. I would go to class with photocopies and provide students with information in the form of handouts. We would use Google only occasionally and I would try my best to draw terrible pictures on white flipchart paper. Smartphones were smaller back then, iPads were not as powerful as they are now and I also had a 2.5kg laptop, which made it less than ideal as I traveled around Vienna to various international companies giving lessons. One course I did provided the Trainer with a blackboard and chalk and a text book and CD player! Rather old school.
Now in 2020, I see technology like online platforms and devices as being an integral part of the learning experience for both Trainers and Students. Students can prepare for the upcoming lesson, effectively 'flipping the classroom', so you can concentrate on mistakes and things students don't know. More of the class time can be used for 'activation' of the language not 'teaching'. Trainers also don't have to waste time drawing and explaining concepts that can be easily found online.
As an example, I hook up my device to the monitor or projector, access Google image for pretty much any word I need, use websites for current content like news and current affairs and company information, Cambridge Dictionaries for definitions and level appropriate vocabulary, Linguee for translation from native languages, as well as the online learning platform GO! Platform that the company I teach for, MHC Business Language Training, uses for course content, class preparation and homework. Life becomes more and more paperless and my bag lighter and lighter. Students can also access the platform 24/7 from any device!
Another example is how I use my Surface Pro. Over the two years I have had it, the touch screen functionality allows me to use the screen as a whiteboard, meaning while my handwriting is still terrible, I am not wasting flip chart paper. I can add pictures and text using Microsoft Whiteboard and again, enhance the learning experience. Emailing the students afterwards means they don't need to jot everything down for fear of forgetting. They can relax, enjoy the experience and ultimately learn more.
What's App is also a great tool in the classroom. With a group chat students can communicate before, during and after class and I can send photos and links to relevant material, helping those who missed the class to pick up on the things they missed. For recording phrases and words it is also vital. Students often remark 'Wow! I never thought of using it in this way. Indeed, I didn't either until a student suggested it. Now I use it all the time.
In 2020, tech in training is much more than a simple Powerpoint slide deck. I am evolving my training and offering as I go, thinking about the latest features of an App and how they could be applied in my training. Learning powered by online learning platform like the GO! Platform, allows students to access a language and their trainer inside and outside the classroom. It is also fun, and virtually paperless! As a person obsessed with tech and who loves all the gadgets, it is cool to be able to offer my students something new! I encourage you to do the same and enhance the training experience for your participants.
Rehearse in your shoes
As an Executive Voice Coach and Communication Skills Trainer I coach and mentor people to speak better in public situations. For many, it could be formal situations like board presentations, mainstream media opportunities or international speeches at cross country negotiations. At other times it could be for informal situations addressing team members, giving farewell or welcome to the company speeches or just interacting better with colleagues.
One of the small, but I believe very powerful tips I received years ago when I was a professional Opera Singer, was to rehearse in your shoes. The shoes that you are likely to wear at the event. It is important for several reasons:
If you don't have the right shoes, find some. Give them a special place in your wardrobe and rehearse in them often. Make sure they are clean and presentable when you speak as well. We often judge a person by their shoes. So stand up and stand out!
Blogging for 2019
David has decided to take a break from the weekly blog for 2019. This doesn't mean to say you cannot connect in other ways.
David's Facebook page for 'Resonant Personal Development' has a weekly video on specific topics of current interest. He is also available on Instagram at 'ResonantTrainer' where he imparts various Trainer tips and ideas to help you succeed as a Trainer and Speaker.
If you have a blog topic you would like presented please contact David at email@example.com
A Time to Reflect and Review
The last week of the year is often quiet. There are fewer people around as many go on holiday outside of the cities to be with family and enjoy some space. It is also a time to reflect on the year that was and the year that will come. For me it is the year to come that is my focus. I like to plan out what I plan to achieve, what is realistic and how am I prepared to grow in order to achieve my ideas.
This year for me has seen a culmination of a lot of networking coming together. I have grown my self and my business along the way, had wonderful opportunities and started new projects. I have enjoyed in particular adding Lecturer to my resume with my commencement as an external lecturer and the FH Wien der WKW. I hope this will continue in 2019.
In 2018 I also developed a social media plan to become a creator rather than a consumer of content. I aimed for 52 blog posts as part of this campaign and I am pleased to say this is number 52 for this year. It has been the many small consistent efforts to think, take action and write something that I have enjoyed. I hope you have as well if you have read many of these posts. More than anything else, it keeps me in a creators mindset and helps me to remember that I have more choice and control of my outcomes than I think.
It also takes consistent effort with the small steps adding up to create bigger leaps. So in review, next year I plan to continue to write blog posts. I will continue my Facebook Videos on my Resonant Personal Development Page and I will also add LinkedIn Videos (24 in total). Instead of expressing 'Something that Inspires Me' I will create a 'Music that Inspires me' as music is returning as a positive part of my life that I would like to nurture. To return to performing in Halls, Theatres and other places where I can express my voice through singing.
I wish you a successful 'review and reflect session' and hope you can plan and aim to fulfil the goals you set out for yourself in 2019. It will be my 40th birthday year so I intend to make it BIG!
Principles to live by
Recently I was invited to attend a seminar on the Millionaire Mindset. It is coming up next February 2019 here in Vienna and on the recommendation of a good friend, I obtained a free ticket. I have also purchased the book by the author T. Harv Eker and have begun to read it. What I have read so far appeals to my nature, and not only applies to wealth creation but personal development in general.
There are several principles espoused so far one includes:
'If you want to change the fruits, you will first have to change the roots. If you want to change the visible, you must first change the invisible.'
The second I would like to share:
'Thoughts lead to feelings,
Feelings lead to actions.
Actions lead to results.
Fantastic. We do live in a duality. Both positive and negative, light and dark and we must embrace this. We know this from our body. We are sick, then healthy only to be sick again at some point. We cannot really prevent it, but we can lessen the effects.
Take the first quote, this suggests that it is the inner and outer world that needs work and the author suggests this is where he gained financial success. The inner side. Many authors speak of this, from John Maxwell, to Tony Robbins and they are all onto something.
In your life, what happens when you also give your thoughts some focus. When you review what you say to yourself and how you speak to yourself. When I coach people in Voice it is the same thing.
'Oh no, I cannot sing......
My teacher told me to be quiet and not present in public.....
I could not possibly go up onto stage and say a few words....
Please don't ask me.'
It is interesting as a Trainer to watch people squirm when they are put on the spot. Whether in a learning situation or a group situation, people are somehow taught not to speak up, to take a chance and risk being wrong.
It is the risking being wrong/right or whatever that perhaps is the difference. In that exact moment, you have a choice. If you look at the second quote by T. Harv Eker it says, thoughts create feelings. When you think you cannot, you won't. It is Mel Robbins, you says you have 5 seconds. Otherwise you miss out. 'Who wants to say a few words? 5 seconds.......' Otherwise you miss out.
So, what is the solution or advice here?
Change your principles, find some to live by. Not just be a good person, but how. Make your principles your own. Don't copy someone else.
Then live them. Make them work for you.
These will spur you into better feelings which as the quote says means you will take action. Action will lead to a result, whether what you want or not, it will be a result.
It is better to take an action and fail and try again, win, lose or whatever than to remain in the wish camp. I am now planning my 2019 and putting in some of the 'wishes' I have discussed previously in my life. Now is the time to risk, take action and see what happens. Then I can say, I have done it. I have acted on my thought.
This is the action. Act on the thoughts. When they are right for you, they will lead you somewhere. Go for it.
The Festive Season
For many people around the world, the middle of December becomes a Festive time when we begin to celebrate with family and friends. Whether it is Christmas, Hanukah or another festival, we begin to draw the year to a close. Work parties come and we let ourselves go a bit and enjoy a little too much food and alcohol.
This is the time of the year where it is important to think about perhaps taking an audit. John Maxell in one of his books talks about how he uses the whole of December as a time to reflect on the year. What has gone well with your year? What do you regret? What did you not achieve and how can you still utilise the remaining weeks of the year to get something done?
This is not a time for giving up or forgoing your dreams and desires, but to look seriously at the things that prevented this from happening for you and resolving to evolve, shift or move in some way that will help you to achieve the outcomes you want.
This festive season is also a time for coming together. We all fall victim to not connecting enough with friends and family, so it is a time to see a few people and appreciate them. Tell them you have been thinking of them and enjoy their company. Be in the moment, attentive and actively listen. It is a time to relax and be with the people we love.
The main point here is that as we approach 2019, it is important to have visualised your direction for the new year and what you want to achieve. In 2017 I set this in motion and I am pleased to say that all the things I visualised have come true. For me, some highlights have been becoming a University Lecturer, to have build a portfolio of clients that I serve, to be Division Director of Austria for Toastmasters and to have been able to fulfil my social media goals. This is post #50 and I am on track for 52 Video Posts on Facebook, 52 Podcasts, 52 Photos and 52 things that inspire me. It has been wonderful to receive feedback that I am helping people, that people appreciate my efforts and thoughts and like what I am doing. So to those that have supported me this year, thank you! I wish you much love, creativity and success in 2019 and a wonderful festive season.
One of the biggest learnings I have had in this year so far is that collaboration is key. None of us can do something in isolation or usually alone. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a team to bring projects to life. Working together and all pulling together weight.
I recently put together my first UDEMY course with such a collaboration. I met my collaborator through a mutual friend and we have each brought our skills to create my first online course. My collaborator Philipp has done it successfully before. I am really pleased with the result. It is also something I can offer my future clients and people interested in my work.
This year has been a big year for collaboration. Whether through voluntary organisations like Toastmasters and my church or through professional agreements and associations I am pleased that my world, network and opportunities are growing. I would encourage you to do the same.
The old way of having some business cards is still relevant. Many dismiss this because of social media but I think in many places, like Vienna, it still is accepted and even preferred. The other way I have always found to work, is to simply ask for a coffee. I have obtained several jobs and established collaborations, based on just writing an email or making a phone call about having a coffee.
When I was heavily into cycling, I found Bikewise, who offered me some part time work in Australia. My current collaboration with MHC, now three years on, began with a coffee (of course I took my resume) and before long had a job. Recently, I established my collaboration with Die Schule des Sprechen here in Vienna, by dropping off my business cards and kindly requesting to connect with Tatjana Lackner. It paid off. This level of confidence in your abilities and strength and determination to ask is what pays off. Some people admire it, but many are willing to hear your story and offer you some time.
I admit when I first arrived here, I thought the collaborators would run to me, but it doesn't work that way. Especially in singing. I thought it would be easy to pick up where I left off in Australia and just get some work. But it hasn't. Yet. I have to make the change, ask and be bold.
So be bold and ask as you never know where it might lead. It doesn't cost you anything and also allows you to feel like you are ready to connect, be open and curious. Of course, be smart about your potential collaborations, know what you can offer and take a chance to have a chance as my father-in-law always says. It will pay off eventually and I can say now after nearly four years in Austria I am see cross connections. That is, people who know people and are in different fields of my life. Just last night someone at my Toastmasters club had seen me sing at a church friends farewell concert. Collaborations take connection and connection takes communication. Communication therefore is key. This starts with you.
David Corcoran is a Executive Voice Coach. He helps people take responsibility for their communication. This Blog contains his regular musings, thoughts and ideas. He is based in Vienna, Austria.