Episode: 325 |
Melanie Espeland:
Voice Coaching:


Melanie Espeland

Voice Coaching

Show Notes

Melanie Espeland is a McKinsey alum, independent management consultant, voice actor, and executive voice coach.

In this episode, Melanie walks me through two sample voice exercises that she often uses when coaching executives – and you can follow along at home.

If you are listening to this episode before September 24, you can register for a free Umbrex-sponsored webinar Melanie is leading from 12-1 p.m. EST that day. Sign up here:


If you miss the webinar, email us at unleashed@umbrex.com and we’ll send you a link to a recording.

Definitely check out the website of Melanie’s firm, where you can learn more about her voice coaching and hear her demo real, with clips from commercials she has done for the iPhone, Macy’s, Claritin, Nob Creek, Lexus, and more.


One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:00
All right. Hello, everyone, and welcome to the webinar today. McKenzie alum and voice actor, and executive voice coach, Melanie s. Blonde is going to be giving us a group voice coaching session, which I’m incredibly excited about. I had a call with Melanie, we did a episode of unleashed Episode 325, which was a bit of a of a live recorded lesson, where Melanie walked me through a couple exercises, and I had a lot of fun, seriously thinking about getting some voice coaching myself, I could certainly use it. And I really see the value now, I kind of reflecting on my conversation with Melanie and thought, Wow, we spend so much time as consultants thinking about what to say? And how little effort have I put into actually mastering the instrument, you know, of the voice itself. So a lot of people have joined today, clearly a lot of people feel the same way. And so Melanie is a member of unbrick. She’s an independent consultant, and has this, you know, other career of being executive voice? COACH? Melanie, let me turn it over to you.

Melanie Espeland 01:17
Thanks so much. Well, it’s going to be a lot of fun to be here today. Thanks for everyone for joining. And yeah, I’m excited to be here and share with you some tips live and to do some live trainings with some of our very helpful volunteers. And I think that really what I’d love to just add quickly is really today, in this day and age, in the day of the post pandemic world, we’re at this perfect moment in time to really work on your voice and your presence. If you think about it, you can no longer rely on those inperson eye contacts, the physical handshake, seeing full body language, that doesn’t really exist anymore. And for a lot of us, we’re working remotely, most likely through the middle of next year, if not all of next year. And I know hearing from one of my clients, Facebook, a lot of them are going to actually start going remote for the long haul. So I think that overall, this is a great time for us to learn how do you actually use your voice? How do you use your body as an instrument so that you can control it? And it doesn’t control you? So thank you, again, everyone for joining. I think well, maybe what would be a good way to kind of start us off is just to briefly maybe tell everyone a little bit about my background, and then we can jump right into some of the trainings. How does that sound? I think

Will Bachman 02:35
that’s a great idea. You know, it’s helpful to, for people who haven’t listened to the episode that we did, just to give them a snapshot of how you you started getting some lessons and your path. And maybe, to becoming, you know, I think you’re certified and you’re you have an agent. So you’ve done some commercial work. I’d love to hear a little bit about that before we jump into the the group coaching session.

Melanie Espeland 02:59
Yeah, sure. So my career path has not been linear in any way. I started off pre business school, I went to Cornell for undergrad and worked in the fashion industry for many years. And this was in the heydays of Anna Wintour and Vogue before Instagram existed. So that was a lot of fun. That’s a whole other webinar that we could get into. And then I went to Columbia Business School for my MBA. And that’s really where I moved into pretty much what I’m currently doing in my life, which was working at McKinsey, building that executive, excuse me building a consulting skill set. And then from there starting to build my acting, singing and voice training skills, which I had always been curious about. And from there, I ended up starting my own firm, escalon Enterprises, where I continue to do my consulting work. But I also realized that I had this kind of niche skill set where I could offer executive voice coaching. And that’s really bringing together all of my business background, as well as bringing together the voice singing and acting training. So yeah, pretty much I work with the executive voice coaching with individuals who are usually mid to senior level in their career, a lot of individuals in finance and tech, but certainly many different industries. And I find that bringing in the voice acting prowess really is incredibly helpful. And in terms of the voice acting, I know wills, quite intrigued by that and we had fun chatting about it on our podcast. I am represented by cesd talent in both LA and New York. So if you’d like you can always listen to my voice demo, which is kind of fun. That’s on my personal website and the professional website.

Will Bachman 04:36
I’ll mention also, I will send out another email tomorrow with this recording. Also with Melanie’s email address, and I want to mention, if you are interested, Melanie is sending out a periodic newsletter with tips on using your voice. And you can if you’re interested, you can email Melanie and she’ll add you to that And I think Melanie, you’re also going to be having some, some sort of asynchronous course where people can kind of go through it at their own pace. And hopefully you’ll you’ll let us know people have subscribed. Will you let us know when that becomes available?

Melanie Espeland 05:16
Yeah, absolutely. It’s an exciting time. So I’m working on both a course as well as my first ebook. So I would love to keep you all up to date on that. So absolutely reach out if you’re interested in being on this new newsletter.

Will Bachman 05:31
All right, fantastic. Well, let’s jump into the session. So we had some volunteers and I’m gonna go through them in the order they came in. So I apologize if we don’t get to everyone. But Ravi Rao Ravi, are you on the call? Go ahead and come off mute if you are Robbie. Okay, I don’t hear Robbie. Robbie. Okay, Robbie’s Okay, great. So I’m a millennial turned over to you. Let’s let’s jump in. You can start us with some exercises, and Robbie can be the first first volunteer where you test out the exercise.

Melanie Espeland 06:08
All right, perfect. Let’s see Robbie, are you also on video? I see you now. Okay, great. It’s so nice to meet you. Likewise, thank you so much for doing this today. I always appreciate a brave volunteer. So thank you for doing that.

Ravi Rao 06:23
I bet if there’s an opportunity to embarrass myself, I will take it.

Melanie Espeland 06:28
Oh, I love it. I mean, actors do that all the time. So that’s perfect. Well, I think first, what I’d love to go over is actually talking about your video setup. I think that this is relevant for all of us, because we’re constantly on zoom calls, or Google Hangouts calls or Skype calls or FaceTime, whatever technology is the flavor of the moment. So I think that overall, I really love that I can see down onto your shoulder all the way to the top of your head. What can be really difficult when it when it comes to your presence is if when you’re just a floating head or you barely get a little bit more than just your neck. That what’s great about how you’re sitting right now as I can actually see the shoulders and we can get some movement in here and some body language. So I think that how you’re situated looks very good. Other than that, it looks like your chin is more or less flat to the floor, perhaps you’re looking slightly downward. And what I’d love to make sure you’re doing is keeping yourself nice and parallel to the floor, you always want the eyes and your chin parallel. That’s so that you’re getting the best air quality and the best voice quality coming out of your throat, it’s going to allow for everything to travel more easily. If you strain and go upward or downward, it’ll change how your voice sounds. So overall, I think you look pretty parallel to the floor. So that’s good news. For anybody that finds themselves looking downward at their screen, you can always lift it up by adding a couple of books, or one of those amazon prime boxes underneath your laptop, or of course getting an additional extra monitor. So I would definitely highly recommend doing that just to make sure you’re taking care of your throw and not straining it throughout the day. So far, Robbie, really nice setup. Maybe one other thing I would talk about potentially doing is, if you are on video calls a lot, you may be interested in purchasing a USB microphone. Sometimes I find that that can be helpful for projection. So making sure that if you are on a multi person call, people can hear you. And then you’re also coming in very crisp. So I’d also be happy to share with the crew. A link to one of my favorite microphones is the snowball. You can buy it on Amazon target. It’s less than $100. It’s a great investment. So something you may be interested in trying Robbie. Ah, no way. Okay. I swear this was not vetted. I swear this was not planned. That is amazing. Ravi, tell me, Ravi, where did you hear about that microphone? Or did you just randomly find it online?

Ravi Rao 09:01
And we found it. Although I was just trying to do sound before with just my laptop. And people were like, what did you say? What did you say? Wait, I missed that. I was like, Huh, I gotta do something.

Melanie Espeland 09:14
Oh, my gosh, I love it. This is so funny. Well, I’m so happy that you found the microphone useful. Again, to your point, microphones are not really high end that are built into most laptops or even desktop so it’s super helpful to have that extra aid. So that’s awesome. Thank you so much, Robbie. Let’s jump in then to an exercise where I’d love to work with you on tongue placement. So tongue placement highly affects the way that you sound. If you speak with your tongue and a forward placement, you’re going to have clear diction, and you’re also going to have somewhat of a speaker or projector effect, where you’re going to have a bigger sound that moves outward. So again, that’s really helpful for being online and being on these multi person calls with People can more clearly hear you. It’s also helpful when you’re wearing a mask, and you’re outside and people can’t read your lips. And they’re saying, huh, would you say at the grocery store. So again, speaking with the tongue forward can be very helpful. I’m going to demonstrate it for you first, Robbie, and then I’ll have you do it back to me. So I’m going to have my tongue all the way in the back of my mouth, then I’m going to move it to the middle, which is where most people tend to speak. And then I’m going to move it forward, you’re going to hear differences and how I sound. As a disclaimer, most people don’t speak with their tongue all the way in the back of their mouth. But I’m going to show it to you just to give you a sense of just how different you can sound based on tongue placement alone. All right, so I’m going to go ahead and show you remar comm or abarca, my mouth krumper filler, Nora cough Parker, done my tongues kind of in the middle of my mouth and Michelle’s Okay, it’s a little muffled. But this is where most people kind of speak. And it’s a little unclear sometimes what I’m saying sounds maybe a little lazy. And then this is me talking from the front of my mouth, my tongue is forward, you can hear me it’s crisp, and clear. And I’m also louder and projecting further. So right there that shows you just how different it can sound. Now, I would love for you to give this a try. To give you a sense of how the tongue can move back and forth already naturally from the sounds you already make. If you make the R sound, so the R as in the word real, your tongue moves backward, as you say real, your tongue has to move back. So if you’d like to say the word real for me, please, real. Got it? And do you feel your tongue moving back as you say it? Yes. Perfect. Now to demonstrate how your tongue already naturally knows how to move forward, we can say the th sound, it’s quite a strange sound in the English language.

To sound

Melanie Espeland 11:52
tongue has to move forward, almost in between your sets of front teeth in order to make that sound properly. So if you can say they thought the thesis was thorough,

Ravi Rao 12:04
they thought the thesis was thorough.

Melanie Espeland 12:08
Nice, great use of the th sound awesome. Robbie, did you feel your tongue moving forward? as you were saying this teach sounds?

Yes. All right,

Melanie Espeland 12:17
awesome. So that now gives you a little bit more of a sense of Oh, wow, my tongue already knows how to move back and how to move forward. So I’d love for you. Now to give it a shot. Try to go all the way into the back of your mouth. If this is the side of your face, your tongue isn’t curling, but you’re moving it backward, parallel to the bottom of your bottom jaw. So try as best you can to move it backward. And just say Hi, I’m Robbie, with your tongue all the way back and I’ll tell you whether or not I think you can move it more. So give that a try for me. Hi, I’m Ravi. Pretty good. I like it. Alright, so Ravi, say hi, I’m Ravi, with your tongue all the way back, then the middle and then forward. I’d love to hear that. Please.


Ravi Rao 13:02
I’m Robin. Hi, I’m Ravi. Hi, I’m Robbie.

Melanie Espeland 13:09
Nice. How did that feel? Did you hear the difference?

Ravi Rao 13:13
Yes. The first time I found it a little bit more like Kermit the Frog.

Melanie Espeland 13:19
Me, maybe you have a voice acting career ahead of you as the frog.

Will Bachman 13:26
I already

Ravi Rao 13:27
you know, I already kind of with the purple and blue hair. I already kind of looked like a muppet. So I just will take that final step.

Melanie Espeland 13:36
I love it. One of my one of my teachers actually Paul Liberty he does puppeteering and worked with Jim Hanson. So I’ve definitely worked with some interesting puppeteers in my time. So you never know who you’re going to meet in this crazy world of voice. So I think overall, Robbie, you did a great job, you were able to control your tongue placement, we were able to hear some differences. And I did hear you projecting more clearly as you moved your tongue forward. So thank you so much for that, I really appreciate it. And to everybody on the call, this is something you can of course try at home. Again, you’re moving that tongue backward, keeping it parallel to the bottom of your mouth, and moving it forward. To get that forward placement. Again, I saw will put it in the chat, you can practice the th sound or even the light l sound. The light l sound would be the word look or light or like you can feel your tongue moving upward and towards the top of your front palate. So again, thank you so much, Robbie. I really appreciate it.

Will Bachman 14:35
And melody. Do you want to give us some instruction now and we can all take 30 seconds and do do this at home? Give me give us some instructions so we can all go ahead and practices.

Melanie Espeland 14:47
Yeah, absolutely. So now we’ll give everybody else a shot to do what Robbie just did. So again, you’re moving your tongue backward. It’s going to be level to the bottom of your mouth. You’re not curling it in any way. Again You can get a sense of moving your tongue backward when you say the word AR, or like what a pirate sounds are, you’re going to move your tongue all the way back. And then if you’re moving your tongue forward, it’s the th or the light l sound in the English language. So you can say they thought the thesis was thorough, or you can say the word like, you’re going to feel your tongue moving forward towards sets of teeth. So now go ahead, everybody. And go ahead and you can even use your hands to actually help your brain move that tongue backward. I always like to do this because again, we’re not used to having that mind body connection to our tongue. So it can actually help to touch where you want it to be. So you can touch the back of your jaw where you feel your jaw actually ending here, right before your ears start. And you can move your tongue all the way back. So you can go far or go proper over Bach remark or friend or moon for Robert har, or Robert Arthur fireheart are moaner and give that a shot, then you’re going to go ahead and move your tongue into the middle of the mouth, which probably for most of you is more or less where you normally speak. So for me, again, I’m going to go from the front from excuse me, the back to the middle, far, armona refer back. Hi, I’m Melanie, this is the middle, this is kind of where most people speak. And then I’m going to move to the front. And you can put your fingers right at the tip of your chin so that you can project forward and move your tongue forward. If you’re having any trouble doing this, the other thing you can do is, look, look at something that’s about a middle, we call it the middle. So this is kind of a Shakespearean term, where you’re not looking super far into the distance, but you’re not looking immediately at maybe your laptop or your screen in front of you. So again, keep your chin level, look at a split that a point on the wall or something near you, maybe it’s an image or a painting you have on the wall, something somewhat nearby in your middle ground. And you’re going to look at that. And you can actually move your tongue forward toward that object. So that can also help you to get that forward placement. So I can look at my wall and go Hello, I’m Melanie, I’m using forward tongue placement. So that can also help you if you’re having a little bit of trouble figuring out how to move yourself forward.

Will Bachman 17:17
Okay, Let’s all try this at home. I’m going on mute for a second.

Melanie Espeland 17:21
Go for it well, and I can do it again for everybody. So you’re welcome to follow me or watch whatever makes the most comfortable. So again, fingers all the way back. We’re gonna make that our that our sounds like a pirate makes our and you’re moving your tongue back. Toro Armada, or for my Colorado or backward. Hi, I’m Melanie, this is my tongue in the middle placement. And Hi, I’m Melanie, this is my tongue in forward placement.

Will Bachman 17:57
All right, that’s a fun. Just give us a give us a thumbs up here, everyone if you’ve done the exercise. All right. All right, guys. Lots of thumbs up. Fantastic. All right. Next volunteer is Ali Cole. Ali, are you available? Are you online? I am alright, who’s Allie?

Melanie Espeland 18:16
Okay, I like to meet you. Hi. Nice to meet you. Thanks so much for volunteering. I really appreciate it. My pleasure. So I think Allie, what I would love to do today with you is I think let’s do a breathing exercise. How does that sound? Sure. So for Alli and for of course everyone else on the call breathing is so important because I like to call it the fuel to your fire. So your breath fuels the fire, which is your voice. If you’re not breathing properly, then you’re never going to get the type of voice and presence that you can achieve. Otherwise, a lot of us are breathing from about in here alley, we breathe a little bit more shallow, we’re getting more of our air from our chest. And that actually makes our voices go up makes them a little bit higher, it gives them a little bit less crispness, it can also make them sound less convincing and almost pleading. So certainly as consultants, it’s something that we don’t want to be doing. The more you can breathe from the diaphragm and get a nice deeper breath, the more relaxed your entire body is going to be. And you’re going to create more of a sense of a calm ease. So it’s definitely something that’s very powerful. So not only relaxes you, but allows you to sound much more clear deeper and be more convincing. And I know everybody needs to be more convincing, especially when you’re in a consulting capacity. So, Allie, I’d love to showcase to you what we can do here. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to move my camera slightly so you can get a little bit more of a sense of what’s happening with my body. So we’re going to move the camera just a little bit here and then move away. So I’m going to have a hand on the belly and a hand on my chest. So Allie, feel free to have your camera Wherever you see fit, but I’m doing this so that everybody and yourself can see what I’m doing. So you’re going to have one hand on your chest not not above the collarbone right below it, and one on the belly. The reason we’re doing this is because I want to make sure that you can feel movement in your belly and make sure that you’re getting less movement there than in the chest. If there’s too much movement here, it means that you’re breathing too shallow. So you want to make sure there’s movement in here, and you’re going to feel that movement in and out as a breeze. Now, additionally, I just would like to explain from an anatomical perspective, the belly isn’t actually doing the breathing. What’s happening is you have your lungs in here, you have your diaphragm sitting here, and of course, the rib cage, the diaphragm is interacting with your ribcage to help bring air in and out of the body. It’s difficult though, to feel the diaphragm working through your skin externally, it’s much easier to feel the belly. So that’s really why we say have a hand on the belly and hand on the chest to make sure you’re getting that air movement. Alright, so Allie, you’re going to go ahead have your hands placed, I see you’ve got them placed correctly. And what you and I are going to do together is we’re going to breathe in together through the nose, and then we’re going to hold it for a few moments. And then we’re going to breathe out through our lips and our lips are going to be pursed like this. And it’s going to be a slow exhale. Alright, so now I’ve moved myself that you can see my face again, again, your belly, your hand was on their belly, you have the right movement, make sure you’re also sitting up straight. So maybe just kind of shake it out a little bit. Sometimes I know for myself, I start to kind of hunched over if I’m at a computer all day, or if I haven’t had enough iced coffee. So it looks like you have a nice presence here. You’re nice and you’re looking forward, your chin is nice and stable. Your shoulders are back. Perfect. All right alley. So go ahead with me and take a nice deep breath in again, you’re going to fill up that belly, you’re going to feel your hand moving outward, and do it through your nose. Alright, so let’s do that together. Nice. How did that feel? Alli feels really relaxing. Yeah, awesome. It’s such a good way to relax. I always tell people not only is deep breathing fantastic for your voice in your overall presence, but it just relaxes the whole body. It also changes your brain chemistry, it gets rid of adrenaline. So if you have the big presentation to give, and you’re super nervous, that’s also an awesome way just to chill yourself out. Right before you have to, you know, be on. So thank you, Allie for doing that. I think one other quick thing I want to show you alley is the difference of how you may sound if you’re using your excuse me when I’ve come in. So I’m close to the screen, I want to show you the difference of how you may sound if you’re breathing in through the chest versus the belly. So I’m going to show you how it sounds on me. And then I’d love for you to give it a try as well. So I’m going to go ahead and breathe in very sharply into into here alley, and then I’m going to say my name, it’s going to sound very different from when I’m using my diaphragm. So I’m going to give you those two examples, one after the other. And then I’d love for you to try to mimic that. So again, very sharp breath into here. Hi, I’m Melanie. Hi, I’m Melanie. Totally different. They’re both my voice, that higher voice I can get to if I want to or I might get there if I’ve had a few margaritas. But I want to get that really nice deep voice for my normal speaking engagements. And of course, in a professional context, it sounds better, I’m going to be taken more seriously. It’s more convincing. It’s more robust. It’s got that genetic well. So I’d love for you, Allie to give this a try with me. So again, right into here where we didn’t want to breathe before I want you to get that super sharp, sharp breath, and then say your name, you can say Hi, I’m Allie. And then take a moment to get that nice deep breath in through your nose. And on that exhale again, say hi, I’m Allie. So give that a shot for me, please.

Ali Kole 24:33
Hi, I’m Allie.

Melanie Espeland 24:41
Hi, I’m Allie. Nice. That was definitely those definitely deeper that second time around. And I think too, with a little more practice of using your belly even a little bit more robust. And I also think we could remove there was a little bit of that question mark in your voice. have like, what am I doing this right? And that’s totally fair because this is totally new. So I’d love for you to do it one more time and this time really own it. When you say like, Hi, I’m Allie, like I’m here. This is Allie, I would love to hear a little bit of maybe some attitude, even in your voice when you say it with your belly breath. So again, I’ll show you I’ll do it once more, again, just to give you something to mimic off of, and then we’ll have you do it once more. Hi, I’m Melanie. Hi, I’m Melanie.

Hi, I’m Allie.

Hi, I’m Allie.

Melanie Espeland 25:47
Nice. Okay, cool. Thank you so much for doing that, Allie. How did that feel? Yeah, it feels like something I need to practice. Yeah, that’s totally, that’s totally fair. Because one thing I always like to say, and this is a good disclaimer for this particular group of people, if we’re all x MBB, or a lot of us are a lot of us on this call are probably type A, we work really hard, we expect a lot of ourselves and we’re hard on ourselves. So Allie, it’s okay for you to feel like oh, wow, this is something I need to learn. Because that’s totally normal to feel like, wow, this is a totally new skill set. I’ve never really used this before. So that is awesome. And that’s totally okay. And what I would really encourage you to do and others on this call is to start practicing some of these techniques. And with that consistent practice, you will start to get some changes, and you will start to have more control over your body, and therefore be able to just control it more. So can I ask you just one quick question with the second with the second one, do you exhale first and then speak or do you speak as you are exhaling, it’s going to be more powerful if you speak as you exhale, because you’re going to have your powering your voice. So for example, if I’m going to do a large presentation, or even a voiceover audition, it’s really nice to start on an exhale, so you get a lot of power. So right without having had a big exhale, or I can do this. Hi, now I’m talking with the next sale, like whoa, it has a really nice punch to it. So it’s a really nice way to start a conversation or to introduce yourself that way. Which is why I like saying, Hi, I’m Allie. So the next time you’re meeting someone, even if it’s over zoom, it’s a nice way to kind of really start with that punch, and give it as soon as a quad gives you that executive presence. So I think, Allie, thank you so much. I will pause there and see Well, do you think it’d be helpful to give everyone a chance to do this exercise?

Will Bachman 27:59
Absolutely, yeah, just a reminder of the instructions. And then let’s take 30 seconds for everyone to try this at home.

Melanie Espeland 28:06
Perfect. Let’s go back to the breathing then just to make sure everybody gets that because that is one of the harder things to learn over time. So again, everyone, this is something where if it feels really awkward to breathe with your diaphragm, that’s totally okay. It’s something that does take practice. But we can start today. So again, as a reminder, everyone, you’re going to have one hand on the chest, it’s going to be below the collarbone, and one hand on your belly. So about where you feel, you know, your little bit of extra COVID belly that we’ve all gained over the last few months. And so the next thing you’re going to do is again, just make sure that you’re kind of loose, you know, even if you have to kind of shake it out, because we’ve been sitting, go ahead and do that, make sure that you have a nice posture, you don’t want to be uncomfortable and not you know, attention, but you want to have a nice straighter spine, your shoulders shouldn’t be up towards your neck. And again, looking nice and forward, having your chin parallel to the floor. So we’re just in a good position, we’re using our bodies properly, and we have pretty good posture at the moment. So have the one hand on the chest, have the one hand on the belly, and you’re going to want to again, feel air moving your belly hand in and out in and out away from the body as you’re breathing in. And as you’re exhaling, you might feel a little movement on your hand on your chest, but you want to make sure that that’s minimized. Very much so comparative to your hand on your belly. If this is moving too much, that means you’re not going deep enough in your breath. Secondly, when we go ahead and start breathing, you’re going to breathe in through your nose, you want to do that because the air quality through your nose is going to be much better than the air coming in through the mouth. If you’re breathing in through the nose, it’s going to be better oxidant jaded. So definitely that’s the way to go. And then when we breathe out, we’re going to breathe out through pursed lips. So like this. So Everybody can watch me for cues, we’re going to go ahead and breathe in together, holding that breath for a few seconds. And then breathing out slowly through those pursed lips. Do the best you can to breathe out for as long as you can. Some of you may be a little bit shorter than others, that’s okay. Just do the best that you can. So we’re going to go ahead and get started hand on chest and belly. And go ahead and read and with me. All right. Thank you everybody for giving that a try.

Will Bachman 30:53
And when, when I interviewed Melanie, for that, for the episode occurred to me that often it’s difficult to remember some new technique, and it’s useful to tie it to a trigger of something else that will remind you. So for me, what I what I pledge to do, at least for myself is, every time that I get on a zoom, I’ll use that as a trigger just to do three intentional of these belly breaths. And that will least be a reminder, probably at least daily to practice this belly breathing.

Melanie Espeland 31:27
Exactly. I think that this belly breathing, it’s one of those things where a lot of us never really learned to do it. Unless we have played, say, an instrument like, Well, you’ve played the saxophone, or if we’ve had singing lessons. In those instances, you may have learned this, but another’s most of us have never really learned about how to use the diaphragm, let alone even knowing where the diaphragm is in the body. So I think that it’s super helpful to practice it. And it’s really like any other physical exercise. If you said to me, I want to run a 10 k tomorrow, you’re not going to go outside and go ahead and run a 10 k today, you’re going to run maybe, for 30 minutes, or whatever you can do, you’re going to go ahead and stretch your legs, you’re going to put Epsom salt in the bath, relax your muscles. It’s kind of the same thing with all of these different techniques we use to start controlling the body, it’s going to take time to really have that muscle memory and learn how to do it properly. So again, it’s all about that consistent practice. All right,

Will Bachman 32:27
Melanie, your next volunteer is Daniel Street. And I see that Daniel is on the call.

Melanie Espeland 32:34
Right, great. Let’s see where is Daniel?

Dan Street 32:38
I’m here. I don’t know if that helps you. But I’m here. Ah,

Melanie Espeland 32:41
there you are. Hi, Daniel. It’s so nice to meet you. Good to meet you. Thanks so much for volunteering. I appreciate it.


Melanie Espeland 32:50
I think today Daniel, what I would love to do is show you a trick on diction. So then or pronunciation is how clearly you articulate and speak. I do find that for some individuals, this can be difficult if they get maybe nervous if they have adrenaline pumping through their body. If they start to speak more quickly, their addiction can get maybe a little bit sloppier. So what I would love to do Daniel is I’d love to show you a trick that I have for making sure that your diction is super onpoint. And it’s something that you can do with pretty much almost no skill. So this is super easy for anybody to do at home or right before they have a major presentation. So Daniel, I am going to ask you one thing, if you can grab a pen or something of a similar shape, it could be also a highlighter, pencil, a toothbrush even so something with this type of shape would be great. I’ll give you a moment to try to grab.

Ravi Rao 33:50
I was gonna say I don’t use them very often. So it may take me a moment to find one.

Melanie Espeland 33:55
Problem. The other thing you could potentially even use is maybe a utensil from the kitchen. Just something with this type of elongated shape.

Ravi Rao 34:08
You know, I’ll find something it’s similar, but it’s not gonna be perfect.

Melanie Espeland 34:12
Yeah, even a toothbrush would be great. And we can always Yeah, that looks. That’s perfect for now. Perfect. Let’s start with that. And again, you can always get creative, you can even use a toothbrush because that’s kind of a similar shape to a pen. So thank you Daniel for finding that. I think what we’re going to do then is I’m going to show you guys how you can use this trick in order to have better diction. Now what you can do is you can basically put a pen or something similarly shaped into the mouth. What you’re going to do is you’re going to have it go fairly far back and it’s going to cover your tongue and you’re going to hold it in place with your job so your jaw will not be moving, your mouth will remain closed. What’s happening when you do this, is you’re basically making a bunch of the lazier muscles holes in your mouth work a little bit harder in order to articulate the jaw and the tongue, or rather overused when it comes to actually being able to speak. And so in this instance, what we’re doing is we’re limiting your tongue and jaw movement in order to kind of force some of the lazier muscles to wake up. So kind of think of this as like the dumbbell for a bicep, right? It’s a similar type of concept. So Danielle, I’m going to show you how to do this first, and then you can mimic after me. So I’m going to go ahead and put this in my mouth, like this, to work Hawk over her family, but I’m going to work hard for her to help you over hammer. And then I’m going to take it out of my mouth. And typically, because I’ve had training, it’s a little bit harder for you to hear the difference when I say it. So I think we may have a little bit more of a difference when Daniel volunteer, so I’m curious to hear this. So Daniel, what I’m going to do is I’m going to ask you to say a tongue twister, without the pen in your mouth. Then you’re going to place the pen in your mouth and say it again twice, and then take it out. Okay, so this will be this will be a little bit of work with the tongue twister, but I know that I know that we can get this. So I think you probably are familiar with the tongue twister. She sells seashells by the seashore. And

Ravi Rao 36:22
she sells seashells by the seashore.

Melanie Espeland 36:25
Nice. So go ahead then and put the pen in your mouth. We’re gonna go like this. I love arafat twice. With a pet Arielle. Please.

Ravi Rao 36:38
She sells seashells by the seashore. She sells seashells by the seashore.

Melanie Espeland 36:46
Get out and say it once more, please.

Ravi Rao 36:48
She sells seashells by the seashore.

Melanie Espeland 36:51
Nice. How did that feel when you took the pen out and you said it once more, a lot easier. Awesome, very cool. And Daniel, that’s the whole idea behind this trick is it’s really waking up some of those lazier muscles in the mouth and making it so much easier to articulate and get things out of the mouth in the most efficient capacity. So I love it. I’m so glad that that was pretty easy for you. And I think at this point, I would love to give everybody a chance to try this particular activity. And again, Daniel, thank you so much.

Thank you.

Melanie Espeland 37:28
Alright, so I think well, I’m just going to go ahead and go into this for everybody. So again, everybody, if you have a pen, a highlighter, a spoon, a toothbrush, whatever you can find, I think a toothbrush is usually pretty easy, because everybody has one at home, you can go ahead and give this a shot. So again, as I did with Daniel, you’re going to go ahead and put this pretty much pretty far back into your mouth. The key thing is to have a cover your tongue, and you’re going to hold it in your mouth with your job. So that way you can also use your hand to have that feels a little bit better. The key thing is just making sure your job’s not opening and closing so that we keep the job from doing a lot of the work that normally does. So again, you can hold it like this, that or if a Cooper plays, or whatever hills bar. And again, you can do this with really anything that you have to say if it’s a prepared speech, if it’s a tongue twister, whatever it is that you’d like to do, I would say maybe what we can do this time is we can say one of my favorite lines will they thought the thesis was thorough. I love this one because it makes you say that crazy teach sound in the English language. And we can all go ahead and do that. So for all of you, I would recommend saying it first without the pen, then saying it again twice with the pen in your mouth, and then removing it and saying it one more time, that would be the fourth time with the pen out of your mouth, it should feel a little bit easier to articulate. So we’re going to go ahead, I will demonstrate it for you. They thought the thesis was thorough. They thought the thesis was thorough. They thought the thesis was thorough. They thought the thesis was thorough. And you may even find yourself saying things quicker once you take the pen out of your mouth because all of a sudden your your mouth is going oh, this is easy. I got this. So interestingly, this trick can also be used if you want to be better at speaking more quickly. And if you want to articulate more quickly. So if any of you want to be an auctioneer, this could be kind of a fun way to practice doing that as well. So I think well, if we don’t have questions on this one, or I can invite people to ask questions, but I’d be happy to move to another activity or chat more about this one.

Will Bachman 39:47
Yeah, so we do have a couple questions in the chat. And let’s see. So Barry, and we also had someone else seconded the question asked, let me see here. Very nice. Just what happened to it now? Oh, is that inhale, hold and then speak during the exhale, something we should be doing during the entire presentation. So does that become the normal way of speaking of speaking through the exhale the whole time?

Melanie Espeland 40:20
Yeah. Thank you, Barry, that’s, that’s a great question. So you’re not going to be able to speak in that very specific manner in normal speaking, right, you could always start by speaking on an exhale, but you’re not going to be able to do that at all times. So the idea here is we’re doing something that’s a little bit more, a little bit more exaggerated when we’re practicing the breathing, in order to help you start to understand what the breathing can feel like, and help you to understand what it can be. So I think that what you need to do is the key is learning how to breathe more deeply on a regular basis, so that that becomes more automatic, versus the shallow breathing. But certainly in a presentation, you’re not constantly going to be going. And I’m speaking, right, we’re not going to be able to do that. So the key thing is making that deeper breathing, more analogous to your normal breathing, so that you get nice deeper breaths that are fueling your voice for longer. So in a way, you’re almost being able to speak on the exhale for a longer period of time, because you have more air fuel and how you’re speaking, if you get a short piece of air coming in, then you’re going to run out of air and you’re going to sound a bit strained in your speaking. So I hope that that helps to answer the question and feel free to follow up. If you have any more questions on that specifically, and again, to everyone the breathing does take time to learn. So I would highly recommend practicing that, and just trying to be aware of it when you’re speaking. If you are in a conversation, and you’re find yourself running out of air, maybe taking a moment to take that nice deep breath then.

Will Bachman 42:07
Yeah. So building on that Melanie, Andrea Wilson asked a question and there was a cup, there was another one that was similar. When we’re in the flow of a conversation, and we realized that maybe we’re talking too fast, or pitches too high, you know, we’re maybe a little bit nervous, or, you know, we’re kind of ramping it up, what can we do to lower our pitch quickly? and get more grounded, and maybe get a little bit more bass in there? Is there some breathing? Or what do you suggest when you’re in the midst of a meeting? And you just realize that I need to bring this down a little bit, huh?

Melanie Espeland 42:45
Yeah, absolutely. I think in the middle of a meeting, the breathing technique can be really helpful. Obviously, you can’t be as exaggerated as what we did here today, because you’re in front of people, and you’re in the middle of the meeting. So what you can perhaps do is, sometimes you can take a sip of water, this is always something to the you always want to have next to you at all times, whenever you’re speaking, or in a professional situation, make sure to lubricate everything in here. So that’s always a great way to say no, please give me one moment you take a water start to breathe in. And now let’s proceed. And that can just give you that moment of time where it’s not awkward, where you’re just taking a sip of water. And then you’re just giving yourself that moment to just reground yourself. I think that really with deep breathing, what’s so nice about this is it relaxes the entire body. And so that can help to kind of trick your brain chemistry into becoming a little bit less stressed, a little bit anxious. And that can also help to start to slow down your speaking a little bit. I think the other thing you can do is, I always like to tell people to do this, one thing you can do is I like to create a funny folder in my personal Gmail account. Now the sounds a little odd, so I’ll explain it, the funny folder is going to have memes or movie clips, whatever it is that you think is hilarious that makes you crack up right away. This is a useful tool that you can use to relax yourself before meetings. And it also can be something that you can think about if you’re feeling a little stressed out in the middle of the meeting, to immediately get you to kind of have an internal chuckle and allow you to just kind of relax a little bit. But I think that that can be super helpful as well. And last note on that. What’s interesting about laughter is that when you laugh, you engage the diaphragm. So it’s another really nice way to start engaging your diaphragm and getting nice deeper breaths in and out of your body.

Will Bachman 44:50
Next up, Alejandro asked a question. It seems there may be other non voice exercises which one can do to improve As in breathing, for example, what other daily exercises do you recommend?

Melanie Espeland 45:06
Now, great question. There’s a ton of different things that you can do that are physical in nature that can help to aid your voice and overall presence. One thing that I think is so helpful for most people is doing a little bit of massage on the neck and the job, a lot of us hold an incredible amount of tension in the jaw. As I was saying earlier, with the pen exercise with Daniel, you tend to use your jaw and your tongue so much in order to articulate and so if you can basically give your job little self care that can be incredibly helpful in order to just kind of open up the body and allow for just a better sound come through, this also can have an added effect of relaxing the face a little bit, so that when you are speaking to someone, you’re going to have a warmer facial expression. So I can go through a few of those quickly with everyone, because I think that’s actually gonna be super helpful. So there’s way more exercises than knees. But I think these are just a couple of key ones I’d love to kind of start with. For the neck, what I would do is, I would have one hand about here, you’re going to have a few fingers above the collarbone a few below, where you’re basically holding on to the base of your neck, so not the whole neck, but the base of it. And then you’re going to go ahead and just very slowly kind of lift yourself upward. And you’re going to feel a nice stretch here on the neck. And then with your other hand very carefully, don’t use too much pressure, you’re going to move upward. So you’re getting a nice stretch in both directions. So you can go ahead and do this every day. Again, a nice way to stretch out the neck. And I also like to always, like I said, you can always wiggle it out, make sure to move your body. And you can of course roll out the neck. I’m a huge fan of doing that whenever you can, again, just to loosen yourself up, we’re sitting so much, it’s a great way to just get the body kind of ready to go and get yourself into a better physical position in order to actually make a good sound. Now, when it comes to the job, I want everyone to be able to basically find the back of their jawline, this is where your teeth end. And I want you to move in at not a 90 degree angle and not a 45 degree angle more like a 7075 degree angle, where you’re going to find one of the largest muscles in your face, that’s very powerful. That’s going to be the one controlling movement of your job. Now this one may actually it may hurt a little bit for some of you, if you are super tense, that’s okay, you can use some pressure here to try to open it up. And you’re going to go ahead and just give it a massage. You can use whatever finger feels right for me, I like to use my index finger. For some, they may like to use the index and middle for some, they may like to use the thumb. So whatever feels good to you. And you’re just going to go in there and just go ahead and work on that spot. You can also find the spot on both sides of your face at the same time, which can feel very relaxing, and help open you up. You may also find that this spot may be maybe tighter on one side of your face than the other. So that’s also possible. Now that’s going to be a really helpful way to just start to open up the job and allow you to have just better sound and also more warmth in the face as you’re speaking. So that’s a fantastic exercise I think to do on a day to day basis. And as you start to explore your body through different exercises I like to do you’ll start to find where you tend to hold tension that you may have not ever realized before. And I know for myself, the jaw is somewhere where I just happen to hold tension. And so I find this to be very, very helpful.

Will Bachman 49:11
antastic love those. Let’s see. Melanie, do we have time for one more volunteer? One more? One more exercise before we were up?

Melanie Espeland 49:21
Yeah, why not? We can definitely do that.

Will Bachman 49:23
Fantastic. Okay, I see. Sarah sonnenfeld is on and she volunteered. She was next on the list. So Sarah, Sarah Yura?

Melanie Espeland 49:32
Well Melanie. I Sarah, it’s so nice to meet you. Thanks so much for participating. I really appreciate it. So I think what I would love to do with you is we can do say what you’re thinking. So this is kind of a fun, very simple storytelling, annual partial acting exercise to really help you prepare for really any kind of meeting. This also allows you to kind of bring into play affirmations. What I love about affirmations is that they are basically, they have been studied. And there’s a lot of scientific evidence. And that’s quantitative in nature that showcases that people that use affirmations over a control group are typically able to break patterns or achieve new goals much more quickly than the control group. So this also kind of takes in a little bit of that science, and then melds into it a little bit of acting exercise. So what say what your thinking means is, when you’re speaking, Sarah, you can hear what I’m saying, This is the physical conversation coming out of my mouth. But there’s also a conversation in here, I’m always having my own internal dialogue. And we can all hear both dialogues, pretty much you think about it this way. If you’re at a conference, and you see someone on stage giving a presentation, and you’ve never met this person before, and you think, wow, that person’s nervous, or Oh, wow, they know exactly what they’re doing, this person is so impressive. You’re making these assumptions, because they told you that through what was going on in here. So again, this internal dialogue is super powerful. And if we can control it to a certain extent, we can almost trick our brains into communicating something different to the person that we’re speaking to. So for example, I’ll kind of demonstrate this. If I’m going to go into a meeting, and I’m thinking of this is not going to go Well, I’m not prepared. I’m so nervous. Hi, I’m Melanie. Or I can go into a meeting and say, I forgot this. I’m so excited. I’m super prepared. They’re gonna love it like this is gonna be awesome. Hi, I’m Melanie. So you can see of course, I’m already you know, of course, this is me acting it out. But this is a way to demonstrate how you might sound in different settings, depending upon what you’re thinking. So Sarah, I would love to give that a shot with you. So can you first say for me, you can mimic what I’m saying. But instead of saying, Melanie, use your name, Sara. So if you can say, Gosh, I’m really nervous. Gosh, I’m really nervous. I don’t know if this is gonna go Well, hi, I’m Melanie. I don’t know if this is gonna go well, Hi, I’m Sarah. Now let’s switch to I’m really excited about this. I’m really excited about this. I am a total badass. I am a total badass. I’m Melanie. I’m Sarah. Nice. I love it. And what I love about this is Sarah, you know, you’re you’re very naturally knowing where to go with your facial expressions with your tone of voice based upon what you were thinking and how we were changing the emotional context of the situation. How did that feel for you, when we went from some of those more negative emotions to the positive? A think what’s, what’s interesting for me is how just saying I’m feeling extra why I can mimic it. And I often do enter meetings. I’m super busy. Oh, no, all these details, oh, I’m worried about these 17 things. But if I say like, oh, we’re gonna have a great meeting with all of that how quickly it shifts is basically Melanie what I noticed. Awesome. That’s great. And Sarah, that’s exactly the point of really what this exercise does, is it’s a really nice, simple way, right? Before you go into an important meeting, to instead of thinking, Oh, I’m so busy, like, I don’t have time for this, how am I going to finish all my work and said, You’re going, I’ve got this, I’m a total badass, I’m gonna kill this meeting. And it will 100% come through and the way that you communicate, the way your face looks, the way you’re speaking, everyone will be able to read that even on a subconscious level. They may not be able to articulate what was different about you or your voice or your presence, but they will feel it. So thank you so much, Sarah, for that. Thank you.

Will Bachman 54:10
Melody, I see we are getting close here to the top of the hour. And I want to observe something which is we started this call with 63 participants. We have 63 participants now, which is pretty amazing. A lot of times and something like this, people will have to drop off. But clearly, people have been you know, finding something here that that’s resonating. I would like to ask everyone you know Melanie’s doing this for us for free to give her some feedback. Could you put in the chat, one thing that you found particularly insightful that you’re going to take away from this session. So if you could just take a minute now and drop in the chat, something that you’re taking away from from today’s call that I’m sure that’ll be helpful for Melanie as she does these type of things. I actually

Melanie Espeland 54:56
have, I think two or three more webinars coming up on my radar. So Would love any feedback? Additionally, you can always shoot me an email if we didn’t get to your questions because I did see the chat become quite active. So if there was something that we weren’t able to answer, you’re more than welcome to email me.

Will Bachman 55:17
Thank you so much of people who are adding these, I’ll just read some. So the new habits for breathing and stretching, he’s going to practice his introduction, in case it was amazing to see a few simple exercises can make a big difference. And this, you know, it’s not like you necessarily need to work with a voice coach for three years, sometimes 8020 a few sessions could you know, make a big difference on it. Asteroids is a breathing technique was so helpful. The breathing techniques people are talking about the reminder of the power of breath exercises galore. Thanks for keeping to add those I will be sending out again an email tomorrow with this video, feel free to share it with people that you think might be helpful for the email. If you’re interested on Melanie’s email in there, so send Melanie a note, she’ll add you to her list for her newsletter and access to her her course. And and she does offer a private lessons, I think very reasonably reasonably priced. So if you’re interested in getting it set of three, four or five sessions with Melanie, to really up your game, it might be a might be a useful investment. So thank you, Melanie, this was amazing. Amazing, and thanks for everyone for joining and particularly to the volunteers who are so brave and and,

Melanie Espeland 56:40
and were willing to be guinea pigs. We had Ravi, we had Allie, we had Daniel, we had Sarah, thank you so much to all of you. That was so helpful. Thank you for being brave and doing that.

Will Bachman 56:50
All right. So hey, so that looked for the email tomorrow. Thank you everyone for joining. We’ll wrap it up. Now. I’m gonna stop recording. And this was awesome. Melanie, thank you very much.

Melanie Espeland 57:03
All right. Thank you, everybody. Have a wonderful rest.

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