A World in Transition: Insights from Transition Hub – Vocal Energy
It has often been said that the voice is the emblem of the personality.
Each human voice is completely unique, and it is one of our most vital tools for survival, not only as a matter of self-expression, but in how we measure credibility, authority, and trust in another person. We are all experts at decoding the dynamics of the human voice and yet the voice is so often overlooked in its vitality.
Our physical lives changed radically during Covid restrictions. We instantly set out to establish our presence in all manner of virtual settings, which for most of us has opened new ways of working. Yet in this time of transition, what has that meant for the biomechanics of physical communication? What has that meant for our voice?
We might find we are sitting more and walking less in between conversations. We might find that we are having to project vocally (or force volume) to be heard on Zoom calls. And we might also find we are speaking off impulse, waiting for our turn to speak until the connection opens for us to contribute in a Zoom call.
All these possible scenarios can cause a disconnection with supported breath (diaphragmatic breathing) and can lead to vocal fatigue, strain, and a de-energised voice.
In addition to this, consider what this new environment means for us as listeners? Now, for most of our work interactions, we are now decoding a digital sound rather than experiencing the resonance of the human voice. This marks a huge change in the way we communicate.
As we are amidst this phase of transition like no other, we are asking our voice to work harder than it has before. We are asking it to establish our credibility, warmth and presence without its running mate, physical presence, and we are asking it to do so digitally.
Consequently, a supported, free, and resonant voice is now more critical than ever. One of the gentlest ways to start to do this, is to make sure that we are breathing correctly - Deep diaphragmatic breathing rather than the shallow upper thoracic breathing.
Begin by becoming mindful of posture and avoid collapsing through the mid spine, be conscious of taking more time and space to breathe.
One of the simplest ways to refocus diaphragmatic breathing, is to take two minutes before your next call and simply drop the breath in. Place a hand on your chest and one above your navel. As you inhale, feel where the breath is landing and which part of your body is catching it, then consciously allow it to fall deeper. With each inhale continue to release tension until the bottom hand is the one that is rising and falling with each breath. When your breath is centred you are ready to speak.
Now more than ever, let's not overlook the vitality of the voice, as it brings with it so much humanity.
Aimee Foster is a senior HPC Global & Transition Hub coach and coach trainer, specialising in Voice & Performance Coaching. With a diverse background in performance and feature film development, Aimee works as a development coach, creative arts educator and voice-over artist, linking content with meaning. Aimee coaches our Personal Brand team to deliver with authenticity and clarity.