The Voice

I love the way experiential connections become new

Back to School
Yesterday I started coaching cricket again in a particular
school I hadn’t visited for a couple of years. I was working with a Year 4 (8-9
year olds) class, and in part of the teacher’s introducing me he told the
children how I had quite a soft voice and this meant they would have to really
listen to pay attention! Interestingly he didn’t use the word “quiet”, choosing
to use “soft” instead – and the thing about soft – like that – is that it is
about timbre rather than volume.


Of course once we begin to investigate what I would call the language
of meanings
(submodalities sounds rather dry and scientific), we get an idea of
how we can get more detail into our communication. Rather as a picture can
paint a thousand words, certainly the right word in the right place can evoke
thousand pictures.
We might say “I love you” to someone and leave it there, even
though there may be so much more to be said. Now here’s the thing – when it
comes to expressing ourselves in terms of a thousand pictures, we certainly don’t
need a million words. In this regard we can now get a truer understanding via
those wonderful lines by Elisabeth Barrett Browning:

How do I love thee? Let me count the

love thee to the depth and breadth and height

soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

love thee to the level of everyday’s

quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

love thee with a passion put to use

my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

love thee with a love I seemed to lose

my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,

tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,

shall but love thee better after death.

Language can be amazingly rich in terms of helping us to
convey the true meaning of what we want to say to anyone, be it an individual, a
small group or a vast gathering. And yet – in our digital age of comms, everything
is being shortened, curtailed. Sometimes the only thing that comes out of
curtailed, like that, is CURT. I
never switch on Predictive Text on my mobile for a similar reason – in the dash
to send off a message, the “unmeant” can happen. So when I’m communicating, my
mantra is this: –
“I’ll tell you what I mean, what I really, really mean.”

Except, of course, when my intention is covert! ☺

not Confusion

“So, how important is The Voice in communication, because
it’s not all about words though, isn’t it?” I was once asked.

Well for me yesterday, in school, it was hugely relevant –
because “soft” gave me a broader channel, a more flexible means of delivering
the words. It helped that the children had been ‘switched on’ by their teacher
of course, and although I still had to keep their attention through the 100 or
so minutes of our double lesson, the seeds of the REAL meanings I wanted to convey germinated
mentally more quickly on fertile soil and with ideal climatic conditions.

In my article “Getting Results” – a kind of linguistic
Prelude & Fugue –

I did some word-play on the lyrics of the song “T’Ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it” in part of the fugal
section. It read as follows:

T’Ain’t what you sing it’s the way
that you sing it –

and what you can get with the freedom to swing it –

This am mighty
relevant all round for each and every one of us – as it was for me in class yesterday.

I – and everyone else – had the freedom to swing it! Play – learn – have fun –
discover new things we can do – enjoy Ourselves. And I know that if there’d
been confusion for the children then they’d have got far less out of the
experience of the lesson.

Period of Discovery

And – as an aside here – isn’t “lesson”, like that, such a mis-shapen word in
our adult world?

lesson in school should be a period of discovery, and yet the reshaping starts
when we like some lessons more than others. Now if we look at why we like some
lessons more than others then there’s always reasons – and it’s not usually
because it’s a dull or boring subject. With the right delivery, the content can
come alive.
Some people could sing or talk to us about the phone book – and they could make
it interesting. Their voice – their vehicle of delivery – would make it so.
I happen to think that all teachers are amazing, for they have to stand up
every day and act out a performance that is content-oriented and content-rich.
However – there are those who are masters in the art of communication, where all
the richness of the meaning of the content gets delivered along with the
content itself. Brilliant teachers, and that includes coaches and trainers –
whether in schools or in any kind of adult education – are able to get everything
across, by having the freedom to swing it! 

The Connection

On the blog of Jeremy Jacobs
there is brilliant little article called “5
Top Tips for taking care of your voice”

read this today and out of the inner resonance came a connection – for me –
with my yesterday afternoon with those Year 4 youngsters.
I know how hugely important my teaching a sport, like
cricket, in schools for the children. It’s a great game for helping us discover
more about life and ourselves. It’s a great vehicle for learning through Play.
And we learn so much more – and quicker – when we are totally absorbed in what
we are doing. When that level of absorption prevails, then the well delivered content
gets through at an unconscious level.

Now there’s a degree of similarity in those last two sentences that could be
deemed as cyclical repetition. And I’ve written them here for precisely that
very reason – and pointed them out also, so drawing them into a focus for closer
attention. Think of the notice that says “Do Not Throw Stones at This Notice”.
It’s not just a notice whose purpose is entirely built upon its own content though
is it?

For me, the point Jeremy Jacobs was making is about looking
after our delivery vehicle – and keeping it roadworthy for those many miles we
travel on the communications super highway. Our voice will need fuel – and the
right fuel! It needs good servicing and maintenance.

– as we sit behind the wheel, it needs good quality driving! If we crash into
things or skid off the road then people won’t have a hope of understanding us. We
all want to be understood, and get frustrated when we aren’t. However – the remedy
starts with ourselves.

to Basics

We all have a voice, both a verbal AND a nonverbal one –
and for most of us it is a voice that is rarely heard in the way we would like,
for whatever reasons. It is one of the biggest “If Onlies” in life, and yet,
because we practice our usage every day of our lives, it can be very
straightforward to change and we CAN turn that “If Only” into a reality.

Life is about discovery and learning, living and
experiencing – and our voice coupled with how we use language can enhance our
lives beyond measure. Now I’m no voice coach or language coach, though I know
some amazingly clever, subtle yet brilliantly perceptive people who are. All
their advice, however small, however basic, has been so useful and so helpful for
me that I know I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the vehicle I am now able
to drive and the verbal and non-verbal content I’ve harnessed. Some of my
discoveries began way back in my schooldays, some in between times, and a
considerable amount has been recently, through both modelling and taking action
through gaining and practicing knowledge.

I firmly believe the world will begin to change if we had
an education system that addressed the following two things:
  • That we learn how to communicate

  • That we learn how to learn.

That way each person would be able to find their true

It is really that simple and, rather like what happened
with me and that Year 4 class yesterday – it all begins with an introduction.