When people are confused or afraid of saying something that they think might not be received well, their voices can become constricted. This may result in even a quite pleasant “young” sounding voice, but the long term effect on the listener will still be vapid and the content of what they’re saying pointless. Many voices in the media at the moment, sound stuck. When I came across these excerpts from Keith Bain’s book called The Principles of Movement it was something I wanted to blog. Nervous Energy
from Keith Bain’s book “The Principles of Movement”
“To work subtlety with emotional energy you need great discernment and relaxation. Otherwise that bugbear nervous energy takes over. Nervous energy can be a manifestation of fear of failure, determination to be better than everyone else, or just plain self-consciousness. Apart from the forced quality that nervous energy produces, its worst effect is the way it depletes your energy resource, wearing you down and using up your reserves.”
In the business world a company’s performance is more dependent on sentiment than immediate performance. The same can be said for politicians. Their views and values are never stated with any semblance of passion unless some poll has told them to say what is popular and will get them or keep them in power.
Nervous energy apart, how long will it be before we hear wake up voices and see people who are not repressed by doubt or uncertainty or influenced by desire for personal power?
Always like to listen in to Radio 1 surgery on a Wednesday eve when I’m coming home from the gym. Dr Radha and Gemma Cairney give really useful advice. Recently they had an evening devoted to speaking – which is right up my street. They had one amazing girl phone in who had cured herself from stammering by turning her shyness and fear into a belief and appreciation of herself and her worth. She’d worked on her self – value and stopped worrying about people judging her. It’s been life-changing for her. The committment needed to make the changes take time, but when you believe, then the transformation does take place. Annik Petrou overcame her fear of speaking out loud and formed the Pony Express company – teaching others to speak in public
Her business has grown and the events are stimulating and fun.
When we’re in situations that make us particularly nervous like an interview or meeting a date for the first time, remember the onus is with the other person. Interviewers have to be good at their jobs and you are evaluating them. A date is there for you -to see if you have anything in common – if you don’t feel relaxed when you’re with them, then they’re not right for you.
There was good advice about thinking “bum and feet” to help you relax before a speaking event/presentation from voice coach Caroline Goyder. Part of the Max Your Voice Check List Before Speaking.
Drinking water was recommended for hydrating the voice. Yes but please sip small amounts frequently rather than glugging it down. It’s good to sing in a steamy shower – the steam helps the vocal folds.
Relieving a stammer is about clarifying the message from the brain to the speech mechanism as Doc Radha said. When we’re unsure of what we’re saying and nervous -the muscles can get into a habit of trying to stop the word being formed just before it’s said – and a stammer can develop in this way. The muscles can be released and this allows the words to free flow – but it all starts in the mind with how we feel about ourselves and what we’re saying. Once a client who’d stopped stammering told me his girlfriend missed the stammer as she though it was sweet. Fortunately she thought he was great without the stammer too.
“Judi Dench is the latest actor to criticise younger performers for poor diction.
In a speech before unveiling a blue plaque at the former home of actor John Gielgud, Dench complained that younger actors are not applying themselves to develop their vocal technique, expressing her frustration at not being able to hear them properly.” The Stage
There are lots of reasons for poor diction among some young actors.
Not always because they haven’t been to Drama School.
With the casting done by sending self-tapes, the emphasis is on the look and instant openness to the camera. Providing the actor says the lines with conviction and is entirely convincing in the role a director will be satisfied that they can direct them and they’ll be good in the roles. Often they are, but for more demanding parts – vocal technique is essential.
Actors like to deliver in their “natural” voice and are keen to preserve this. When younger actors come to me for voice coaching they are more concerned with learning accents than with learning vocal technique. Depending on the job, I’ll coach vocal technique along with the accent. Maxine Peake has a fantastic vocal technique and her ability to stay with her own accent as well as embrace other accents is a great role model for young actors.
The most successful actors have been fortunate to realise early on that their voice is very much part of their craft. When an actor is working all the time then the voice grows and technique is passed on by the more experienced actors. When you’re not working all the time – actors need to build in a daily routine of simple voice exercises that they can incorporate into their lifestyle. Love of poetry and reading out loud along with the daily voice exercises will always support them – mentally as well as vocally.