VOICE YOUR SUCCESS
By Edith Barnard
You are dressed to the nines and ready to go to a fancy party. Perhaps you are donning a new hairstyle. Your focus is on
projecting a positive self-image to others. So, you are all spiffed up and then alas!---YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH!!!
Voice image is one of the most vital, pervasive, meaningful, and controlling factors in our lives. It designates the way you perceive
your own sound and the way you perceive others’ sounds.
Reflect on the people who have made life’s most lasting impressions on you, good and bad. In thinking of a teacher, a parent, a
colleague, or a competitor, do you remember their attire, their posture, or the color of their eyes? It’s strange how those visual
perceptions fade over time. In most instances, what remains is a voice image.
How often have you said of someone, “He’s a great guy, but he’d be a lot easier to take if he didn’t whine on about things”? This
suggests a negative voice image at work and can cause a person to be viewed as an unattractive person.
Conversely, you have perhaps met another whose effect on you was inexplicably positive; “I was prepared to dislike her. But she
won me over. I don’t know what it was about her, but I was taken with everything she said.” Some people call this charisma.
Others call it presence. I call it a positive and compelling voice image, a voice that draws you into its spell. Such a voice presents
the essence and character of the speaker, as well as the content of his ideas, in a positive light.
In short, others may not listen to WHAT you say, unless they are engaged by HOW you say it. Learning to use your voice in a
manner that will enhance your personal and professional life can be an adventure. This is yet another opportunity to learn about
ourselves in an “Inside/Out” dynamic.
Proper use of your vocal mechanism and choice of material that says exactly what you wish to communicate to others, will make
yours the voice of success. Listening to your inner voice and learning techniques to use your outer voice to transmit the
information, perception, and emotion which you wish to share, describes to others who you are. The sound of your voice is your
primary tool of communication.
There is an intangible power that commands attention and generates success. The source of this intangible power that advances
people is the power of communication. Successful communication depends largely on effective use of the voice.
The magical voice of success can be yours with self-awareness and the application of practical principles. A well-produced, natural
and healthy speaking voice is a valuable asset. The manner in which you first listen to your inner voice and then how you choose
to voice these thoughts is the key to your identity. Style is being yourself, but on purpose!
Whenever we step out of our home, all speaking becomes public. Then, there is no such thing as “private speaking.” The
fundamental elements of voice production and how to choose million dollar words apply to everyone. They’re easy to learn. The
desired result is always the same, and that is to improve the quality of the voice-to make it attractive, healthy, and effective. By
using our speaking voice to share the truth of our inner voice, our lives will indeed have the magical ring of success!
"With Edith's excellent coaching, it is now possible for me to speak with much more clarity, eliminating irritating
verbal clutter!"John Remsen, Banker, Peoria, Illinois
"To earn my degree, I have many more communications classes to take. Edith has helped me learn techniques to
be a clear communicator and I found our working together fun and it helped me not be afraid of communicating
on the stage of life!" --R.L.P., student, Bradley University
Clear Your Stage of Verbal Clutter
By Edith Barnard
“All the World’s A Stage!” --Shakespeare
Have you ever noticed when someone says “You Know?” that often, they do not know? This phrase, “You know” is one of the
most common forms of verbal clutter littering our linguistic landscape. In fact, truth be told, this too oft spoken phrase is my pet
peeve. I have been known to interject, “No, I don’t know” if someone is saying “You know” too often. Notice this week that
some people actually say this phrase every other sentence. Henry Higgins would not approve!
Other common forms of verbal clutter are “like,” “um,” “uh,” “and stuff,”- oh I must stop enumerating because the list of cheap
filler phrases goes on and on like the Energizer Bunny.
Recently a professional speaker came to me with an interesting dilemma. When he sent a tape of his speeches to prospective
clients, they almost always hired him. If he met people in person and pitched his speeches, they rarely asked him to speak. After
chatting with him for twenty minutes, I asked his permission to tape our conversation because I had a thought this would shed
light on his predicament. I noticed that in casual conversation, he said, “Okay” often at both the beginning and ending of
sentences. In the first taping, we counted twenty-seven uses of the word okay. I gently reminded him that outside the privacy
of our homes, all speaking is public speaking. I asked him to consider that perhaps people who were thinking of hiring him were
afraid that he’d get on the stage and use excessive Okays. He winced and said that he had not noticed that he ever said
“Okay.” After realizing that he used this word too much, he argued that it really wasn’t that important. Then I played a tape of
another speaker who repeatedly used the word “basically.” He then realized how unnecessary words undermine the authority of
Excessive filler words work against a speaker because they annoy the listener at a subconscious level.We again used the tape
recorder to reduce my client’s reliance on meaningless and superfluous words. We taped a small segment, played it back listening
for verbal clutter, noted where it was, and recorded again. He quickly learned to control his choice of language off-stage as well as
on. The next week, he called to say that he had been hired to be a keynote speaker at a prestigious conference based on a
conversation he had in line at the post office.
Clutter also lurks in the high-sounding but empty phrase, the redundant word, and the overly detailed analysis. “At this point in
time” is simply the five-word equivalent of the single word “now”. It takes only a moments’ reflection to appreciate the accuracy
and economy of the monosyllable. Similarly, “due to the fact that” can usually be boiled down to “because” and “whether or
not” can be trimmed to “whether.”
When you find yourself saying uhs and ums, stop and repeat the sentence, this time replacing the verbal clutter with silence. Use
the pause as an effective technique. Work hard at replacing this verbal clutter with a simple pause and during these short pauses
allow your mind to catch up and think about what you want to say next. By listening to our silence, we can listen to our own
wise counsel and intuition. By being In Tuition with our own well of creativity, we will indeed KNOW what to say.
“COMPOSE THYSELF” ON THE STAGE OF LIFE!!
By Edith Barnard
I love process! “Path as goal” is a very exciting concept. There is great satisfaction in completing a project. For me, to perform
is “to completely finish; execute, accomplish, fulfill, achieve.” Performing offers my mind, body, and spirit balance plus an
opportunity to share with friends and colleagues my inner thoughts.
At the age of four, I had memorized “The Night Before Christmas.” My parents loved showing off my ability to say and perform
this poem. From then on, I was star struck!!
As a child, the performing arts gave me the opportunity to define myself through my individual abilities and as “a part of” –the
song, the poem, the choir, the musical, the band or the orchestra. I enjoyed putting it together and then collecting the “goodies”
—affirmation, validation, and applause! -that wonderful mix of power and humility.
Physically, I enjoyed being able to do what I saw others doing-projecting myself as a performer. Challenge, discipline, refinement,
and reaching for perfection enhanced knowing that each performance is unique. Like a snowflake, it is remembered as it floats
through the air or as it collapses into the mud. Either way, the adrenaline and endorphins are adding to the thrill that the
combination of fear and excitement brings!
Now, I love the spirit of connectedness with myself and with others that performing gives me. I enjoy a heightened consciousness
when I’m performing. Every moment is my declaration of who I am---who I wish to be with you, in this moment. This is
My definition of performing contexts is now changing. For me, life is performance. Everything already mentioned is still at play
although in different ways and often more subtly. WHO I wish to be takes me now not only to the stage, but also to my studio,
to the grocery store even to a walk on the beach. My relationships with colleagues, clients, family, friends, and strangers reflect
aspects of performance. The current performing art I’m practicing now is just BEING! I am after all a human being, not a human
Does this mean that I’m into improv? Was this a performance?
|International Professional Speaker, Success Coach and Motivational
Edith Barnard, BA, MA