Podcast

Episode: 545 |
Melanie Espeland:
Tips from a Voice Coach:
Episode
545

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Melanie Espeland

Tips from a Voice Coach

Show Notes

In this episode of Unleashed, Melanie Espeland talks about the importance of using one’s voice to make a powerful first impression. Melanie, an executive coach and life coach, shares her structure for building an executive presence. The structure includes two pillars: the literal (physical world) and the figurative (mental and emotional world).

 

Voice Is The First Impression

The literal pillar focuses on the speaker’s voice, which includes nonverbal communication, posture, and body language. The figurative pillar includes authenticity, confidence, and vision. Authenticity is crucial as it involves being connected to oneself and having clarity about who they are and how they want to show up. Confidence is separate from executive presence as it involves believing in the effectiveness of their actions and their ability to connect with their audience. Vision is influenced by watching great leaders speak and media training work, and it involves articulating one’s thoughts, needs, and future focus or thesis in a clear, consistent, and well-understood manner. In summary, Melanie emphasizes the importance of using one’s voice to make a powerful first impression in various aspects of life. She provides a series of voice exercises that can be done at home and offers tips on how to use one’s voice to make a powerful first impression. By understanding and practicing these techniques, individuals can build their own executive presence and improve their overall professional image.

 

Voice Exercises – Training the Tool

Melanie jumps into the exercises to demonstrate how they work. One important exercise is warming up the voice, starting with humming the sound as an H. This will help with projection and open up the mouth for the arm. The speaker also suggests doing a simple vocal warmup, such as a e Oh, ah, to start articulating around the mouth, tongue, and facial articulators. She compares the voice to an instrument, and the body is an instrument, and the voice is the sound it creates. To tune up the voice appropriately, the speaker suggests stretching beforehand to avoid injury or muscle hamstrings. Melanie also emphasizes the importance of giving the jaw and tongue muscles a little bit of love and attention. She suggests using a lion and mouse exercise to warm up the face and facial muscles, making them small and tight, and then expanding them. This helps the face constrict and expand, working those muscles and wake them up. The jaw needs a little bit of love, as the jaw and tongue are the most overworked muscles when it comes to speaking. To relax the jaw, the speaker suggests yawning or letting it relax naturally. Melanie explains the importance of a vocal warmup, which can range from two minutes to an hour, depending on the individual’s needs and skill level. She suggests building this routine into your daily or every other day routine, making it whatever length works for you. She also shares specific exercises that can elevate your voice, such as tongue placement. One of the most surprising exercises is the tongue placement exercise, specifically for American English. This exercise is specific to American English speaking and is not necessarily accurate for other languages. Melanie  demonstrates different placements of their tongue, such as the back of the mouth, middle of the mouth, and front of the mouth. She demonstrates how different they sound with their tongue in different general placements and  encourages practicing these techniques over time to improve their voice and feel more confident and comfortable speaking. In conclusion, building in a vocal warmup is essential for both personal and professional success. By practicing these exercises, individuals can enhance their voice and become more confident and effective in their communication.

 

Developing The Mind-Body Connection

Melanie explains how to create a mind-body connection, using your fingers to direct your body and physically move your tongue where it needs to be. Practice at home by reading text with your tongue in different placements, especially forward, to gradually move your tongue forward. Use the TH sound to prompt forward placement, such as using a sentence like “They thought the thesis was thorough.” This exercise is great for diction and tone placement. In American English, the TH sound is sometimes mistaken for the D or F sound, so be aware of this and differentiate between the two sounds. Use all three sounds in a sentence to make distinctions between them. For example, “The thoughtful dog dodged a fiery thicket” can help ensure you are working on tone placement and overall diction.It is also important to think about other ways to improve your sounds and diction, such as identifying and working on challenging sounds like W, S, and F sounds. This can be done by asking friends or family, listening to yourself or a recording of yourself speaking, or listening to yourself or a recording of yourself speaking.

 

Improving Vocal Range

Melanie shares her experience with a large vocal range, which can be quite low for a female voice. She attributes this to her proper training and attention to detail. However, if she is not properly using her body or breathing properly, she can sound very different. Melanie emphasizes that both genetics and practice play a role in her vocal range.In society, a lower-pitched voice is often considered more authoritative, but this can be achieved through proper breathing technique. Melanie suggests starting with more simple texts and gradually moving up to more challenging ones. She offers several tips to practice and improve one’s vocal range. Female voices tend to be higher, resulting in a more warmth and friendliness. This can be a secret weapon when used appropriately. To achieve this, exercises like tongue placement and breathing exercises can help. Tongue placement helps sound more precise and formal, making individuals more confident. Breathing exercises help deliver more grounded and authoritative sounds. The key is to use your feminine voice to your advantage and incorporate other tools to enhance your authority and sense of knowing. Using a quick breathing technique can help maintain a balance between warmth and authority.

 

Breathing Techniques

Melanie goes on to explain the importance of proper breathing technique in singing. She emphasizes the importance of using the diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle that interacts with the ribcage and respiratory system, to create sound. Breathing deeper into the diaphragm allows for more air to be absorbed and expelled. She suggests practicing by placing one hand on the belly and the other on the chest below the collarbone to double check if the diaphragm is engaged. This exercise helps build awareness of how to breathe and how much air is being brought in and out of the body. It may take some practice to feel comfortable with this exercise, but it is essential to understand how your body is working and how to engage the diaphragm. Over time, the goal is to get more air into the body, breathe slowly, and use more air when exhaling and speaking. For those who have asked about pitch, speaking lower, or speaking more slowly, this exercise is a great way to start working on these aspects. Additionally, it is relaxing, making it an ideal practice for those with stressful days or big presentations.Melanie emphasizes the importance of proper breathing technique in singing, particularly in terms of utilizing the diaphragm. By practicing this exercise, individuals can become more aware of their breathing and control their breath to create sound. For exercises to avoid trailing off at the end of a sentence and to avoid raising your voice at the end of a sentence, she suggests working on breathing with your diaphragm to have more air to express yourself and move through sentences with the same emphasis and volume projection, and she explains the importance of improving breathing and voice quality to eliminate nasal quality. Melanie Espeland, a former McKinsey consultant, is now a PCC ICF certified coach. She  has worked with Olympians, influencers, and executives on their speaking and executive presence. She loves working one-on-one, as it allows for the biggest impact and value. 

 

Timestamps:

00:10 Using voice to make a powerful first impression

01:29 Voice and executive presence coaching

04:19 Improving executive presence through voice exercises

09:23 Vocal warm-ups and facial articulators

15:11 Yawning and jaw relaxation techniques

18:34 Vocal warm-ups and tongue placement for better diction, projection, and likability

25:19 Tongue placement for clear speech

30:49 Improving diction and vocal range through exercises

36:28 Voice coaching techniques and breathing exercises

39:07 Using breathing techniques to improve vocal authority

44:26 Breathing techniques for better speaking

50:35 Improving public speaking skills and breathing techniques

 

Links:

Website: https://www.melaniesespeland.com/

Email: melanie.espeland@gmail.com

 

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

 

Ep.545 MelanieEspeland

SPEAKERS

Melanie Espeland, Will Bachman

 

Will Bachman  00:10

Hello, and welcome to Unleashed. I’m your host will Bachman. Today’s episode is from an event that Umbrex hosted in September 2023. With Melanie s blonde, who is a McKinsey alum, a member of Umbrex, and a voice coach, and Melanie’s presentation, you’ll get a series of voice exercises that you can do at home, and tips on how to use your voice to make a powerful first impression. We did this as a streaming event on Zoom. And you’ll hear me asking my own questions as well as questions submitted by attendees via the Zoom chat. You can learn more about Melanie’s voice coaching service on her website, which is Melanie s. s blonde.com. And that link is in the show notes. Hope you enjoy this episode. And more importantly, I hope you try out some of the techniques that Melanie shares here. Welcome everyone to this discussion around how to impress how to use your voice. I’m so thrilled that Melanie Escalon has volunteered to come back again for another session, we did a previous episode. It was fantastic, great reviews. I’m now going to put the spotlight on Melanie, and turn it over to her. So welcome, Melanie,

 

Melanie Espeland  01:29

thanks so much well for the warm welcome. And it’s great to be back everybody, I can see that we have people here from the west coast all the way to Europe. So that’s super exciting. Thank you so much everybody for joining. And I hope this is valuable for you. I’m gonna go ahead and share my screen, I’ve got just a couple of quick slides to go through. And then we’re gonna get to the good stuff, which is the actual exercises that I’m going to teach you today. And I feel like I don’t even have to introduce myself. Now that will give me that lovely introduction. But basically, I’m an executive coach and a life coach. And one of my specialties is voice and executive presence. And we can jump right in then to I want to talk about my executive presence structure. And the reason why I just want to start here is because when I started coaching, it was specifically on voice and speaking skills. This is because I have a background in voice I’m a voice actor worked at McKinsey and NBA, I have that mix of professional and voice specific training. But what I found was when a lot of people were coming to me asking about their voices, they were really thinking about executive presence as a whole, how they were showing up at work, how people thought about them what their perception was that they have that Genesee Quoi, as we call it. So over time, I’ve built out a structure to executive presence and voices included in that. So I like sharing this because I think it’s a helpful way for you to guide your own path for building your own executive presence over time. And again, part of that is voice and we’ll go into some voice specific exercises during our time together today. So as you can see, this is pretty simple. Overall, there’s two pillars, one is the literal or the physical world. And the second is the figurative or the mental and emotional world. Under the literal pillar, you have voice which we’ll be talking all about today, your body. This can include your stance, your posture, your body language, your physicality is a part of how we communicate, it’s called nonverbal communication. And then lastly, you have appearance. So appearance can be driven by your gender, your age, cultural norms, the industry, you work in where you live, there’s a lot of different factors that can go into what’s considered an appropriate appearance and what’s perhaps considered to be an authoritative appearance. Now, those are all a little bit more obvious, I would call those kind of the foundation, right, the literal pillar of executive presence. As you start to level up, you also want to look at the figurative pillar. And there’s three items listed here that I want to discuss briefly as well. One of those is Authenticity. Authenticity is a buzzword that’s been floating around a lot lately, but I feel that it’s really important because this is really about being connected to yourself. And if you’re not connected to yourself, it’s going to be pretty hard to connect to other people, right? So the key here is being connected to yourself, having clarity about who you are, how you want to show up what it is that you’re trying to achieve, and therefore being able to connect with others effectively. Humans are social species, so that connection is important. The next item here is confidence. Confidence I consider to be separate or a subsection of executive presence because somebody could have presence, but not feel confident about it. Or they could be really confident, but not quite have presence. So I think it’s important to note this, what I consider to be confidence is that you’re buying what you’re selling, right? You believe that what you’re doing is working, you believe that you have the ability, you believe that you can get what it is that you need, that you can connect with your audience that you can achieve whatever it is that you’re seeking to achieve. So that’s how I think about confidence in a separate way from say, executive presence as a whole. Lastly, we have vision, vision, this is something that I added, which was really influenced by watching your great leaders speak. And in some of the media training work that I’ve done. Vision to me is really about being able to articulate what you think what your needs are, what your future focus or thesis, or no thought leadership is, are you able to communicate that in a way that is clear, and consistent, and also well understood by others. So vision, I would say is kind of that last lever of executive presence, where you’re able to come to the table with that presence, but also be able to communicate very clearly and consistently. Whatever it is, that’s important to you. So hopefully, that’s helpful for all of you. Again, you’re welcome to take a screenshot of this, I also have info about it on my website, this is a great way for you to start thinking about structuring your own path to up leveling your executive presence. So for today, as I said, we are going to be working on The Voice pillar. So I’m going to go ahead and turn off my screen share. So this way, we can go ahead and just look at each other on the screen. And I’m just going to go ahead and pull up some of my notes that I have those ready to go. Now, as a quick as a quick aside, Will is checking the chat. If you have any specific questions about the exercises as I’m going through them, if something isn’t clear, I will pause to allow you to ask questions. So if something comes up and you say, Hey, I didn’t quite get how you did this, please let me know. And I’m happy to go ahead and answer those questions throughout the presentation. As for any other questions you might have about speaking or executive presence. I’m going to leave time at the end for questions. So about 10 to 15 minutes for questions at the end. And we’ll I saw you come off as you

 

Will Bachman  07:44

no questions yet. Some folks are sharing their LinkedIn in the chat connecting with one another that’s encouraged. Awesome. We know have no content questions yet.

 

Melanie Espeland  07:53

Alright, perfect. Alright guys, so let’s go ahead and get started. What I recommend that you do is to stay on mute, but to stay on camera so that you can go ahead and interact with each other, create some good energy for us. And I would love for you if you feel comfortable to practice these exercises as we go. So to follow along with me, it’s really important to do these exercises so that you can learn them. One thing I want to do is just start with warming up your voices. For me it’s 8am in LA so I definitely need to still warm up my voice for today. Even if it’s later in the evening for you if you’re in London, it doesn’t hurt to warm up your voice This is a great thing to do, either on a daily basis or before perhaps an important meeting with some key stakeholders, I want you to go ahead and just start humming the sound as an H Mmm

 

08:47

hmm.

 

Melanie Espeland  08:53

You can keep the same pitch or you can let it die down so it’s keeping the same pitch would be or you can let it die down. Whatever is easier for you to great way to start to get some nice resonance to start opening up your voice. This is going to help you with projection projection is still important. Even over zoom you still want people to be able to hear you clearly. From there we’re going to want to work in some oz. So you can do

 

09:30

ma um

 

Melanie Espeland  09:39

so this was going from going upward in pitch pitch is also another word for the notes you’re going upward in the note and then leaning into on and opening your mouth as you do that. So again that was um

 

09:55

ah Just

 

Melanie Espeland  10:00

letting it die like that. So again, to start going up Word and pitch, right, and then opening your mouth for the arm, try to let your jaw loosen up. When you open it up for the ah, we tend to hold a lot of tension in our jaws, they are so overworked and they’re so important for our speaking. So try to just let it loosen up a little bit as you are going into the office. So we don’t want this we don’t want you to go, ah, we want to be ah, so let it open up naturally. I’m going to do that one more time. All right. Now one other thing I want to do with a vocal warmup is I want us to do something very simple, this is going to be a e Oh, ah. So again, a as in the letter A, E is and letter E. O is and letter O. And again, ah, which we just did, it was an H. So, A E, Oh, Ah, this is a helpful way for you to start articulating. So again, a E, oh, ah, really helpful way to start moving around your mouth, your tongue, your facial articulators, all of these little muscles in articulators are super important, and actually utilizing your voice appropriately, and waking them all up, they’re all a part of helping you to create some beautiful sound. So really, if you think about it, your voice is like an instrument, your body is an instrument, rather, and your voice is the sound this instrument is creating. So what we’re doing right now is really helping you to kind of tune up that instrument and get everything ready to go. So that’s really what we’re trying to do right now. If you think about it another way, I think another helpful metaphor, is if you were about to go to the gym, and you were going to run on the treadmill, you would need to stretch beforehand, if you didn’t, you could hurt yourself, you could pull a muscle hamstring. Similar to thinking about your voice, you want to be making sure that you prep it, that you warm it up that you’re being kind to your body and your instrument so that it can perform at top capacity. So those were some really simple vocal exercises, anybody can do it. And you can do this at home in the shower, you can do this in your office right before a meeting, whatever works for you. Something else that I want to make sure we talk about is making sure we go back to that comment I made about the job because the jaw is so important. The two muscles that get really overused are the tongue and the jaw. So it’s really important that we go ahead and make sure that we are giving those a little bit of love. And we have to make sure that they get a little bit of attention, and even a little bit of massage. So a few things I want to show you in order to warm up your face and all of these muscles. One is called lion and mouse and this one’s really fun. This one I learned from some of my improv days. So in this one, you’re going to be making your face and everything as small and tight as possible. Making yourself small, like a little mouse, and then you’re going to be big like a lion. So again, this is helping your face to constrict, and then expand, allowing you to really work those muscles and kind of wake them up a little bit. So you’re going to go ahead and do a little mouse. Person your lips, were calling up your nose, squinting your eyes. Ooh, you can get your whole body involved. You can see my whole body squidging up Oh Little Mouse, Lion. And open up your eyes, your mouth, you can get your hands involved, you can open up your chest, whatever feels good to you and have fun with this right? This is a great way to start the day. All right, we got to be a little silly. It is Friday after all. So again be a little mouse. Whoo all tight squished up. Oh, my eyes are small my lips response Okay, so this one is very fun, right? So again, opening up everything contracting, expanding, getting your body open and ready to do some work for you. Okay. One other thing I want to do with the face and facial articulators, as they want to make sure that you are thinking about your jaw as I mentioned earlier, your jaw needs a little bit of love. The jaw and tongue are the most Oh overworked muscles when it comes to speaking. So the jaw again, we tend to hold a lot of tightness in the jaw. And so a couple things that we can do to relax it, right. One thing is we can yawn, I’m going to go ahead and help you guys yawn. If you watch me on, it’ll probably help you to yawn and response. Friday bored to write tired. Hmm, feels great. The jaw loves that. It’s also great for the tongue two, really good release for these important muscles that allow you to speak correctly. So if you need to yawn, you can think of something that makes you tired, you can watch someone yawn on YouTube. Watching someone yawn will always help you to yawn. Great way to get a nice stretch. And another wonderful way to just make sure your jaw is ready to go is literally to do a light massage. So I’m going to show you how to do that very simple. Take these two fingers, right, it’s going to be your index and middle finger, we’re going to take it to the same side of your face. So this is my left hand to the left side of my face. And what you’re gonna do is, you’re going to start at the ear, right, one finger is going to be above your ear, the other behind it. And you’re really looking to cup your jaw line, right, so you can kind of feel your jaw line as you go down. So you want to make sure it’s cut. And you want to give it some light pressure and pull downward. And as you do that, you’re going to be allowing the jaw to just gently open. So I’m going to show you that speaking for a moment. Okay, so as you can see, I started with my jaw closed, as my fingers pulled down on my jaw, I allowed my jaw to organically and softly start to open, my mouth started to open as my jaw lowered and opened itself up. So again, that’s the middle finger and index finger. Basically, one is above the ear one is right behind the ear, pulling it down across your jaw line. Okay, I would use light pressure at first. And then you could add a little bit more medium pressure and just see what’s comfortable for you. For some people, they do hold incredible amount of tension in their jaw, I’m sure a lot of you’ve heard of TMJ. So just be thoughtful about increasing the pressure slowly to make sure that it’s comfortable for you. The other thing you can do, which feels really relaxing, and just lovely, is to do this on both sides of the face at the same time. Okay, so you’re gonna take both sets of hands, both sides of the face, right, so here you can see my ear and pull down. Feels great, right, very relaxing, and really wonderful for the job. Poor job gets overworked. I’m gonna take that one more time together, ears, one finger on top of the ear one behind it on both sides of the face, pulling down cupping the jaw. Feels great. That is a really lovely way to start opening up the jaw relaxing some of these facial articulators. And in addition to that, it’s very relaxing. So I found actually, some of my clients like to do that as a way to de stress or to release anxiety before a very important meeting, especially if they really don’t like public speaking. So it’s a lovely way also to help you if you tend to get a little bit nervous before speaking. So it has dual properties there for you. So now we’ve gone through a bunch of warmups, both for the actual voice as well as all these articulators. I want to pause for a minute and just see if any relevant questions came up. Regarding these exercises. I just want to make sure everything was clear. Well, was there anything I should be aware of or I should answer?

 

Will Bachman  18:59

I don’t think we have any active questions. What one there was, Caitlin, how long should we do these vocal exercises? Yeah,

 

Melanie Espeland  19:08

that’s a great question. So you can do a vocal warmup that is two minutes and you can do one that’s an hour depending upon what your needs are and your skill level. Certainly, if you’re not going on a stage and performing or singing, you don’t necessarily need to do an hour long warmup. Maybe if you are giving a speech that’s an hour long, perhaps you do need to do a longer warmup. I would say though, for most business professionals, what I typically say to do is to build this as a warm up into your daily or every other day routine and make it whatever length works for you where you’ll actually do it. Right I’d rather you actually do it then say well that’s a little too long. I don’t want to deal with this. And we’ll I love that actually doing it in the shower is really smart. I think it’s great because you’re alone. It’s in private you think Do your thing, make all the sounds make all the funny faces you want and no one’s there to judge, right. So it’s kind of a great place to do it. I would say if you can build in five minutes every day to work on your voice, awesome. That’s a huge one, right? This is five minutes more than you’ve ever done in the past, and you’re working on something that’s an incredibly important tool for your career and for your life. So if you can give it five minutes to try some of these various exercises, and more that we’ll be showing you shortly, that is a huge win. For some individuals, maybe they find that difficult to build in, I get it, we’re all so busy. If that’s too difficult, then I would suggest making sure you build in the time before an important meeting. So say you’re meeting with the board of directors, or you have a standing Monday meeting with an important individual, make sure that you literally build that time into your calendar, where you have, say 15 minutes before the meeting to get into the right headspace practice, do what you need to do. So hopefully that answers the question. The key thing, again, is just building it in, even if it’s just a couple of minutes. So awesome questions. Thank you for that. I think then now that we’ve gone over some of the basic warmups So again, those are super easy, anybody can do it, you can do it anywhere, I want to talk about a few more more specific things that we can start to do to elevate your voice. One thing that is a huge favorite of mine that always surprises people, is tongue placement. Now, the tongue placement exercise I’m going to show you this is specifically for American English. This is not necessarily accurate for other languages. So just keep that in mind. For example, if you speak Russian, you would not be able to do this exercise because it just would sound crazy wouldn’t make sense. So again, this is for American English speaking. Typically, what happens in American English is that people tend to speak with their tongue, mostly in the middle of their mouth versus the back or in the front. We already move our tongues around. In order to create different sounds in the alphabet, that’s necessary, you need to move the tongue around in order to make various sounds. However, we tend to speak mostly in the middle versus front or back. In American English, if you move your tongue placement, on average, more forward in the mouth, it actually can really help you to sound so much better. There’s a couple things that it does. One is that it increases your diction. So diction as in your precision, how precise you sound, are people able to understand all of the words that you’re saying. And I’m a huge fan of diction over changing your accent. Because if you’re just precise, and clear in how you say your words, it doesn’t matter what your accent is, right? So addictions, fantastic. This absolutely helps with that. This also secondly, helps with warmth, allowing your voice to just have a little more warmth to it a little bit more of that compassion, a little bit more of that friendliness, right, when you’re trying to connect with people and speak with authority, you want it to still be compassionate, you still want it to be likable. So this helps you to have both that authority and likability at the same time. Now, the third thing that this does is it helps you with your projection. So moving sound further out of your mouth, again, really helpful even on Zoom, just to ensure people can hear you. And it also helps with that feeling of authority, right, that voice carrying the voice having some resonance and moving forward. So again, this is just a really awesome trick, something that does require practice over time. So I do want to give a disclaimer here that if you don’t get this right away, that is very normal. That is okay. I’m probably in a room here with a lot of people that are used to being awesome at everything they do. And that is okay, it is okay to have to learn this. So just keep that in mind. If this is a little awkward at first, that’s okay, you can always practice. So, I’m going to show you what it sounds like when I have my tongue in the back of my mouth, the middle of my mouth and the front of my mouth. And then I’ll have you guys follow along with me but I first want to demonstrate that just to show you how differently I sound with my tongue in different general placements. Alright, so if my tongues in the back of my mouth I’ll sound our curve are found ruler frilly or triangular, polar. All we’re in the back of my mouth. No one actually talks like this on a daily basis. Or I’m showing you how different nuking sound based on Tom Kreisman. I’m calm. Now my tongues in the middle of my mouth. This is where most Americans Speak, it’s a little bit more muddled, it’s a little bit harder to hear me. But this is how most people speak a little more muffled. And then this is my tongue with a front placement, this is how I’ve been speaking to you pretty much for the whole presentation, allowing me to be clear, have a little bit of that warmth, have that resonance. And this is where you want to be. And I show you those three different placements, because it really shows you how different you can sound with this tongue placement tool. So again, bark off mouth, middle of mouth, and front. So what I want you to do is to start practice with me, I want you to feel what it’s like to have your tongue all the way back in your mouth, because it’ll help you to understand how to start moving it around, we need to create that mind body connection to what is currently a very subconscious behavior, right, you’re not thinking about your tongue placement. So we’ve got to start to build that awareness. So I want you to move your tongue back by saying the letter R. R, red rouge, red rouge, you’re going to feel your tongue pulling back read our rouge, you can even make the pirate sound are Hold your tongue back. So you’re feeling now you’re getting an awareness and a mind body connection of what it’s like to actually move your tongue backward in your mouth. And you already know how to do this. Now we’re just allowing you do have clarity and consciousness of what is actually happening in your body. So are. Now on the flip side, I want to show you what it feels like to move your tongue quite forward. Because you already got to know how to do this, I just want to show you what it feels like. We’re going to use the T H sound, the TH sound brings your tongue very forward in the mouth, the TH sound is in words like this, the that you can see my tongue moving quite forward, this, the that. So try saying those three words out loud, this, the that if you have a mirror nearby, you may want to look and see where your tongue is sitting this the that you don’t want your tongue to actually go outside of your teeth like this, because then you’ve got to lift. Okay, so your tongue isn’t going actually outside of the mouth or beyond your teeth. Because that would be a list. You want it to go very forward almost hitting the backs of your teeth. This the that. Okay, so now you can feel how different it is when your tongue is all the way back here are versus this, the that very different. Now you’re starting to get a sense of Oh, wow, I already know actually how to move my tongue around. And now I’m just building that awareness that we can start for you to build that mind body connection. And you can understand how to move your tongue around. Now I would like for you to practice with me saying your name where your tongue is going to be back, middle and forward and your mouth. For a lot of you middle will be where you naturally tend to speak. But just play with this and be aware of that and get a sense of where you naturally tend to speak.

 

28:25

Our umbrella news, or where your names are are Molyneux refer back to Tom crow.

 

Melanie Espeland  28:34

Hi, I’m Melanie, this is middle tongue placement, to go ahead and say your name. Hi, I’m Melanie. And Hi, I’m Melanie. This is front of tongue placement. Hi, I’m Melanie. So that allows you to hear it sounds so different as you move your tongue through your mouth. And I’m going to do that one more time so that everybody really gets a chance to feel it because it does feel a little odd at first, and it’s okay, this might feel odd for a while as you practice or Grumbacher mouth and oh one other thing I’ll mention you can see me using my fingers. Sometimes I find to create that mind body connection, it’s actually helpful to use your fingers to direct your body as to where it needs to go. It can help you to physically move your tongue where it needs to be. So if you have any trouble it literally move your fingers to where you want your tongue to go. So right now my fingers are kind of at the end of my jaw line are AMone are for backup Kong provement real hard or longer. So this is now a middle tongue placement. You can see my fingers are in the middle of my cheek more or less. I am Melanie and now this is me speaking with front tongue placement. You can see my fingers are all the way up at the corners of my lips helping me to move that tongue nice and forward in the mouth. So this is a great thing for you to practice on. Home. Again, this takes time, it is not something where I want you to walk into your next meeting being so hyper aware of your tongue placement, right, because that could almost hurt you and make you feel more awkward or be super subconscious or self conscious of yourself. Rather, this is something where I want you to practice at home lay with it, one great thing you can do is potentially read text and read it with your tongue in different placements, especially forward. And that can help you to just play with it and get a sense of how it feels to move your tongue a little more forward over time. So this is really quite gradual. Typically, something else you can do that can help you to get that tongue into them more forward placement is to use the TH sound to prompt that forward placement. So for example, you can use a sentence like they thought the thesis was thorough. And that in and of itself is a tongue twister. So it’s a great exercise for diction no matter what. But again, the sentence was, they thought the thesis was thorough. So anything with a lot of those th sounds, they thought the thesis was thorough. Hi, I’m Melanie. So that’s a great way for you to start practicing and getting your tongue into that full replacement, because you already know how to make that th sound, just get it forward. So that’s a great way to help you get into the forward tongue mode. One other thing I want to say here, sometimes in American English, we mistake the TH sound for the D or the F sound. So for example, thought as an I had a thought, or I was thinking and sound like thought I fought with my friend today. thought, thought, thought thought really easy for us to mix those two up. So I want you to be aware of that while you were saying your th sounds? Are they actually th sounds? Are they sounding more like an F sound, or even a D sound sometimes that can kind of come into play. You can even use all three of those sounds in a sentence in order to help you make distinctions between them. So for example, you could say the thoughtful dog dodged a fiery thicket. The thoughtful dog dodged a fiery ticket. Not an easy one to say. This is a tough one. A thoughtful dog dodged a fiery thicket. And to say that without awkward pauses, so that can be a really nice way to to make sure that you’re being really smart about okay, am I actually using the TH sound? Or am I getting a little bit messy, and going into perhaps the F or D sound. So that’s a helpful way to just to make sure that not only are you working on tone placement, but also overall your diction. And again, diction is one of those beautiful ways to help you improve how you speak super quickly. I would also encourage all of you to think about other ways to improve your sounds and your diction. If there’s other letters or sounds that tend to be difficult for you. For some people, they may find, for example, a W sound to be challenging, or they may find an S and F sounds to be challenging. This can also be dependent upon whether or not English is your first language, perhaps there are certain sounds that are more challenging. So think about that. Even ask friends or family, hey, is there perhaps a sound that I make that’s a little off? Or listen to yourself or a recording of yourself speaking? To get a sense of are there sounds that I should be working on? In that case, you can use this exercise with tongue placement in tandem with a tongue twister. So for example, we talked about the D sound, the dog dodging the fiery thicket, we talked about the TH sound, they thought the thesis was thorough. And you can also Google or come up with your own sentences that have sounds that are more challenging for you. So really helpful overall. I’m going to pause for a second and check in on any questions. Will Are there any questions regarding this exercise? I’m assuming they’re probably are so happy to answer any. Well,

 

Will Bachman  34:32

I’m being very self conscious right now about where my tongue is. I will there has been a couple of questions. I agree. Yeah. We had one question. And I’m curious myself about your own voice. People have asked is your own voice that we’re hearing as a result of these sorts of exercises? Did you start out with a tinny weak Mouse voice and now you It was or was this genetic? That was one question that we have?

 

Melanie Espeland  35:03

That’s a great question. So I would say it’s both. So I would say I’m both blessed with a range that can go fairly low for a female voice. And I am also blessed with having had a lot of training over time, I’m actually going to show you guys how different I can sound if I’m not using my proper training. I like to call this Margarita Melanie, if I’m not really paying attention to what I’m doing, or I’m really excited, or I’m not breathing properly, I can sound very different. So I have quite a large vocal range. Some people do, some don’t, there’s nothing right or wrong about that. But I’m going to show you how different I can sound and I’m going to breeze so you’re going to hear the differences. Just give me a second to show you both. Hi, I’m Melanie. Hi, I’m Melanie. So those are two different ways that I can sound. So again, I’ll show that to you one more time. Hi, I’m Melanie. Hi, I’m Melanie, so rudely different, and both are me speaking. One is not really properly using utilizing my body right one is not utilizing my instrument, all the tools that I know I wasn’t breathing properly. The second one, I took a second to really sit in my body, use my instrument and breathe properly. So you got to meet Margarita, Melanie. So yes, both a little bit of genetics, and also practice. The other thing I will mention is, in society, we typically do think that a lower pitched voice, right, a lower note tends to sound more authoritative. This is changing certainly as more and more women are in leadership positions and just a society changes as a whole. But typically, I do hear from people that they like the fact that my voice is a little bit lower, especially for a female, that can be achieved by making sure that you have proper breathing technique. Again, you won’t necessarily be as low as me, right? Everybody has a different natural vocal range. But proper breathing technique can help you to get into that lower pitch. So if we have time, actually I can I can show you guys how to do that. But I want to make sure we get to the other questions. First.

 

Will Bachman  37:22

We had a question about a mood asked when you suggest reading text to practice the type of text matter. So any particular recommendations on the text to read?

 

Melanie Espeland  37:36

Not necessarily. I mean, obviously, the more intellectual the text or more challenging the text, the more challenging the exercise, right, versus reading, say, a children’s book. So perhaps you start with something more simple and move upward. However, I’m again a big fan of making sure we actually do the work. So if there is a fabulous novel that you’re in the middle of go ahead and use that. If you read the Wall Street Journal every day, use that whenever again makes your life easier.

 

Will Bachman  38:07

Kieron as I talk to you fast and can’t help myself, no matter how hard I try the last 20 years. Any suggestions on how Karen can slow down and speak more measured pace,

 

Melanie Espeland  38:23

got it. The Quran needs to work on tongue placement will help. Because if you are a little more aware of your tongue placement, you’re moving it a little bit more forward, it’s going to help you to slow down a little bit, right, you’re a little more in control of your body, you’re thinking about what you need to do. The other thing I think you’re on needs to do is work on breathing technique, because it sounds like he’s speaking super fast. And so he’s not really breathing and maybe has to pause every once in a while to get the voices out, right. So you don’t want to do that. You want to make sure that you are breathing properly and taking your time. So we can always do some breathing exercises. It sounds like that’s coming up. So happy. Happy to work on that. Any other questions?

 

Will Bachman  39:05

Yes, we had bunch. Agnes asked a question. And I’m quoting this, this is not needed. And the quote, can the only way a woman be taken seriously is to sound like a man. She says I have a girly voice. They higher pitched voice. So what can people do if they want to sound authoritative, but they don’t have the Melanie kind of based voice going on?

 

Melanie Espeland  39:32

It’s a great question. What I would say is something that’s kind of interesting about male versus female voices and how female voices tend to be higher typically, right? We’re generalizing here but they tend to sit higher. The beauty there is that there tends to be a little bit more warmth. In having a higher pitched voice. It tends to be a little bit more warm and fuzzy and likeable and friendly and And when we think about executive presence, I like to think about it as likability plus respect, or compassion plus authority, want to have both, right. And so I think that for women, there actually is a slight advantage in being able to bring that warmth, or that friendliness, or that softness, with some authority, when done appropriately, it can actually be a secret weapon, right? The Holy Grail of I’m warm, likeable, but I’m also authoritative. Some of the ways to do that are through some of the exercises we’ve already gone through, right with tongue placement, for example, that’s going to help you with your addictions, that you sound more precise, you sound more formal, therefore more authoritative, you’re more sure of yourself. And I’ll show you a breathing exercise where we’ll help you to get a little slightly lower in your resonance, so that you can deliver something that sounds a little bit more grounded, there’s something about that lower pitch that makes you feel grounded in what you’re doing, and very authoritative and clear. So again, the key is, don’t be upset with the fact that you have a female or feminine sounding voice, use what you’ve got to your advantage. And then we’re going to add in some of these other tools to just give you a little bit more of that authority or that sense of knowing. So hopefully, that’s helpful. I mean, certainly, we could talk about this for hours. But I’m thinking, well, maybe I do a little bit of a quick breathing technique, since this keeps coming up. And then we’ll probably go into a full blown q&a is kind of what I’m thinking, what do you think?

 

Will Bachman  41:44

Let’s breathe. Alright, cool.

 

Melanie Espeland  41:47

So this has come up now a few times in terms of not only utilizing your instrument correctly, understanding how to get into some of that lower residence or the lower part of your natural vocal range. We also had someone asked about how to speak more slowly. And so breathing technique can certainly help you. One thing I want to do today is just show you how it feels to breathe into your diaphragm. Because for a lot of us, we’re not really using our diaphragm. If you have played an instrument, for example, like the flute in your life, or if you have been a trained singer, you will know what I’m talking about. Otherwise, this is going to be new for you. For a lot of us, we’re breathing pretty shallow, into the chest, right. So I’m touching my chest right below my collarbone, we’re not getting enough air in. If you think about the body, your instrument creating your voice, the air or breath is the fuel to the fire. You cannot speak or make sound without air or without breath. So if your airways were cut off, hopefully they won’t be. But if they were, you literally would not be able to make any sound. So think about breath or air as the fuel to your fire. When you’re exhaling, you are using that exhale to create sound. So that’s why breathing can make such a huge difference. And how you sound you actually have air or fire to work with, you have something to actually use to create sound. So a lot of us are breathing into about here, a chest area, you want to breathe deeper down into the diaphragm. And the diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle. It interacts with your ribcage, and it interacts with your respiratory system, allowing you to really get a lot of air into your system and to use that muscle to expel it. So it allows you to get in more air and expel that air. You cannot feel the diaphragm per se on the outside of your body, it’d be like asking you to go ahead and touch your liver, you can’t quite do that. But what you can do as a proxy for the diaphragm is to put your hand on your belly by your belly button. If you are actually utilizing the diaphragm, as you breathe in, your belly will move outward slightly, you will feel some movement. It may be slight, but you’ll be able to use that as a proxy to confirm am actually engaging my diaphragm. So what I like to do this exercise is you have one hand on the belly by the belly button, the other hand on your chest right below your collarbone. This is kind of your double check to see Hey, am I just getting movement in my chest or am I also getting movement in the belly, ie the diaphragm. And this is just teaching you to be aware of how you’re breathing and what it feels like to get air all the way into your diaphragm and therefore all the way out. What we’re going to do together is you’re going to breathe in through your nose with your hands in the current placement, we’re going to hold your breath for a moment. And then you’re going to breathe out through pursed lips like this pursed lips means. So they’re kind of circled. That’s pursed lips. On the exhale, what I want you to do do is get a sense of how much air you actually were able to bring in. By allowing for your exhale to go as slowly as possible. It may be very difficult to first your exhale, maybe it may be very quick, and that’s okay. This is again, something that takes time, right, you’re building a new conscious awareness of your body, so it’s totally okay, if this feels really awkward or difficult at first. Sometimes people feel sometimes a little dizzy if they do this, and they hold their breath too long. So just be careful to make sure that you’re sitting, you’re not driving while you’re doing this, especially it’s your first time working on breath exercises. So again, we’re putting a hand on the belly, and on the chest, right below the collarbone. And just follow me, you’re gonna breathe in through your nose, you’re gonna hold it. And once you start seeing me breathe out through your lips, you can go ahead and do that, and see how long that breath can last. So go ahead and get comfortable. Get ready. I’m going to breathe in now. Okay, so what just happened? What happened was, I breathed in all the way down into my diaphragm, I felt my hand and my belly move slightly, confirming Yes, I’m engaging the diaphragm, held my breath for a moment. And then I slowly let that air come out in a nice slow exhale, which allowed me to get a sense of how I can control my breath. Am I getting a lot of Aaron is this working on much am I actually accumulating. So again, this exercise is really about teaching you the basics of using that diaphragm and getting a nice amount of air to exhale, and therefore to use to create sound. Let’s do it one more time, I do find that this typically takes a few practices for someone to feel a little more comfortable. So again, if this feels a little awkward, that’s totally normal. You’re gonna put your hand on your belly, one hand on your chest right below the collarbone. Again, go ahead and breathe in with me and follow me when you see me start to exhale, try to allow your exhale to last as long as you can. Okay? Breathe in. Okay, very good everyone. And that’s basically a very simple breathing exercise. Again, this one is really about building awareness. Clearly, you’re not going to breathe like this on a day to day basis. You can’t do that necessarily, while you’re talking. The key here, again, is understanding how your body’s working. How are you currently breathing? How can you get that diaphragm engaged, and then how much air are you really able to play with when you exhale. So working on your breathing technique, and overall, the goal is, over time, get more air into the body, breathe a little bit more slowly, and get more air to actually use when you exhale and are speaking, right. So those are the three things you want more air in, slower breathing time, and then more air out. So for those who asked about pitch, speaking lower, speaking more slowly, this is a great way to start working on that. And also, as a bonus, it’s very relaxing for a lot of people find it relaxing, so can be a nice thing to do if you have a stressful day or a big presentation. So I’m going to pause there because we’ve got about 10 minutes left, and I’d love to answer any questions that are coming up for the crowd. And one other thing I’ll mention is I’m more than happy to take questions from participants via email if we don’t get to it. Because I know that I can see there’s a lot of questions that have been popping up in the chat. So you’re more than welcome to email me after today if we don’t get to you.

 

Will Bachman  49:04

And Melanie, let’s also take a moment here for a sponsor break. Why don’t you just tell us about your practice in addition to being a consultant in number of Umbrex in a lump McKinsey, you also are a voice coach. So if someone wants to really dive into this, give us one minute on your coaching practice. Yeah,

 

Melanie Espeland  49:25

sure. Thank you. So I am still a consultant. I’m ex McKinsey. But I really have been falling in love with coaching. And I am now a PCC ICF certified coach. I have worked with Olympians I’ve worked with influencers I’ve worked with executives on their speaking their voice, their executive presence overall. And really, I love working one on one. That’s one of my favorite things because you get to see the biggest amount of impact and value. I love building those one on one relationships. And we’d be happy to chat with anybody after today, if you’re interested in just learning more, or getting a quick diagnosis of what’s going on with your voice, so always happy to have those conversations. So my website is s blonde enterprises.com. My name is Melanie s blonde, so you can also just Google my name, it’ll come up, and I’m gonna give you my email, the best way to reach me is Hello at US blonde enterprises. And I’m just adding that to the chat now. So that everybody has that. And that way you guys can go ahead and find me. But yeah, happy to answer any questions that are coming up. I love seeing all the activity in the chat. I couldn’t quite read it while I was presenting, but excited to see that

 

Will Bachman  50:41

had a question from Frank Mendoza, who says, I am told that I at times tend to trail off Are there any breathing exercises or tip for getting right to the end of the sentence without losing steam, and also avoiding the at raising your voice at the end of sentences as if you’re questioning yourself, this is actually

 

Melanie Espeland  50:59

pretty typical in colloquial American English to trail off at the end of a sentence. And I agree that this I think is problematic in business because it sounds really informal. It sounds like you don’t really know what you’re talking about. It can sound as if you’re unsure of yourself. And so we definitely want to avoid the trail off at the end of a sentence. What’s happening here is you basically are running out of air, right, you have no air to express yourself. And so yes, getting used to breathing with your diaphragm is absolutely going to help you because you’ll actually have more air to use. And therefore, you won’t have to trail off the end of sentence, right, you’ll have all this air to allow you to move through the sentence with the same amount of emphasis the same volume projection throughout. So I truly just say go ahead and work on that breathing technique, it’s going to help you quite a lot. I also find for a lot of us, I know it’s painful, people really don’t like listening to themselves by I highly encourage you to record yourself, use your phone, your resume, whatever is easy, and get a sense of how you’re tracking over time. These are great data points. And I know people get a little uncomfortable listening to themselves. But the more you do it, the less awkward. It’ll be I promise. So great way for you to just check yourself How is your progress going?

 

Will Bachman  52:26

Yes, Lawrence says I feel my voice is somewhat nasal. What exercise can Lawrence do whether the breathing or the voice to get rid of that nasal quality. So

 

Melanie Espeland  52:36

sometimes this has to do with your palate in your mouth being too high or too low, where you’re allowing either too much or too little air to go through your nose. So I’m going to show you what I sound like when I kind of start to constrict my airways through my nose, I start to kind of sound a little like Fran Drescher, right, really nasally most of the time, people don’t really care for this, it’s not the most pleasant or pretty sounding type of voice. And so it is better to try to make sure you have air flowing through the nose and through the mouth. What happens to some individuals is that we tend to start breathing too heavily through the mouth and don’t get enough air traveling through your nose. And there could be multiple reasons for why you started to do this, you could have mimicked behavior you saw in your family members or friends, it could be that maybe you had a lot of colds or nasal issues when you were a child. And so you became more dependent on speaking through your mouth. So the issue here is we want to make sure you’re getting more air traveling through both your mouth and your nose. I think one thing that will be helpful is start to practice some of these exercises that we’ve gone through with breathing where you utilize your nose and not the mouth. So for example, the diaphragm exercise we just did, don’t breathe out through your mouth, breathe out through your nose, see how that feels. And I would go back and forth between the two to get a sense of how that feels for you and to allow you to create that mind body connection. How does it feel when I’m using my nasal passages versus when I’m not. So I would encourage you to start playing with that and practicing and see how that feels. As you can see for me I can kind of start to get that nasally voice because I’m kind of switching up my nose here and then I’m kinda like allowing it to close up. So play with your face. Remember when we did the lion mouse the beginning, man, see how it feels if you allow your body your articulators, your nose, your face to expand. I’m curious if that would also be helpful for you. Maybe you tend to really constrict your nose, your nasal passages without even being aware of it. We do tend to hold a lot of tension or faces so try that as well see if that works for you,

 

Will Bachman  54:54

Melanie, this was an amazing session. We will share this one. Thank you everyone for joining. Thank you Melanie It’s an incredible Thank you Megan for all the behind the scenes organizing it was fantastic thank you

 

Melanie Espeland  55:05

awesome thanks everyone

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