This week we’re fine-tuning our instruments with help from Hollywood vocal coach, Denise Woods. Denise has been a professional vocal and dialect coach for over 20 years and has worked with stars like Will Smith, Halle Berry, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Chastain, and Mahershala Ali, to name just a few. Listen to hear Denise gives tips on how to nix the bad habits of the “ums,” “ahs,” and “likes,” figure out your unique “voice print,” and learn to harness the power of your breath when speaking.
Denise’s new book is called, The Power of Voice: A Guide to Making Yourself Heard.
Highlights from this week’s episode
From the Denise Woods interview:
On the importance of pausing for breath:
[I]f you have a sense that just like you need to breathe now, your listener does too…And so it becomes this wonderful symbiotic relationship of giving information, receiving information, giving information, this reciprocal kind of energy. And so when you breathe, you give your listener the permission to breathe as well. So that’s the first thing, giving them permission to say it’s OK for this wonderful silence. Because in the silence, in the pause is the rest, what a rest is to music. And just like a composer needs a rest to make the notes important, we need the silence to make the words important.
On how to prepare for an important speech:
[N]o matter how wonderful a voice you have, if you’re tense or thrust into a tense situation, it’s quite like turning the valve on a string instrument, the more tension you apply, the more you turn the valve on a string, the pitch raises. And so therefore, it just becomes like a string, a violin with that type that’s pitched very, very high. And what that does is it creates tension. It creates tension for the listener as well…So tension is the first thing that I like to address to really just rid yourself of tension, shaking out, blowing out through the lips, making sure that the breathing apparatus this is is tension free as well as the articulators.
On the value of knowing your unique “voice print”:
It’s a combination of everything that we are, that we bring to the table culturally, geographically, racially, even how we identify. So we may be a sum total of things, but we may just identify with one aspect of ourselves or two aspects of ourselves. Our voices should reflect that. And because we are so uniquely different and varied and must be celebrated as such, it is incumbent upon ourselves to put all of that into our voices so that people don’t just see us, but they hear us in our totality.
To hear all of Denise’s great tips on how to improve on your voice, we recommend listening to the full episode.