BeSpoke Podcast is Live!

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Hey Everyone,

We have very exciting news! BeSpoke now has a podcast: BeSpokeSpeaks. Many of you have been asking us about turning our audio guides into a podcast so that they are downloadable and you can take them anywhere and everywhere. Well, we have listened, and we are happy to announce that 5 episodes in season 1 are now available on BuzzSprout and iTunes. The first 5 episodes are some of our more popular audio guides. You can find them here on BuzzSprout, or you can search for “BeSpokeSpeaks” on iTunes.

As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, we are also planning on expanding the content of the podcast. We won’t only be offering audio guides of warm ups and exercises, but we’ll also have episodes that are informal conversations between Lindsay and me where we discuss questions that are coming up for you, our lovely audience, around voice and communication. Some of you have already sent us some questions to answer. If you have a question about your voice or communication style, or voice and communication generally, that you’d like us to answer, please comment below or email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com. We would really love to hear from you!

If you’re enjoying what you’re hearing, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. We are very excited about how this could grow and thank you so much for your support.

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

Workshop Announcement

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Take a moment. What is your experience when you perform? When does your craft or creative process serve you well? When do you struggle?

As performing artists, often the struggles that we experience, whether in the creative process in rehearsal, performance or the classroom, come from a nervous system that is attracted towards the fight, flight or freeze response. We literally don’t feel safe.

A predominance of these states and an inability to get easily back to safe mode in your nervous system has devastating effects on the creative process and in life. We are pulled out of the present moment where we truly connect with ourselves, other players and our audience; we struggle to experience pleasure and joy in general and we lack the ability to express ourselves freely and effortlessly in our artforms. We are trapped in the “what’s wrong attention”. And this is exactly what it says on the tin: Our attention is being pulled towards what’s wrong.

This might manifest in a negative thought loop, difficulty breathing or restrictions in the voice when you get up in front of people aka stage fright. It could be feelings of tightness in the body and anxiety in the rehearsal process. How about images of how things might go disastrously wrong before an audition? Maybe it manifests in feeling really low between jobs.

OR maybe you’re just not accessing that in-the-moment creative flow that comes when you’re in a meaningful situation, surrounded by amazing friends and colleagues where everything seems to go well in an easeful, effortless way. Why are these moments so elusive in our art, right??!

First thing, this is not your fault. Like many of us, your nervous system is just a bit out of whack or what is called, de-synched. Your system thinks that by staying on high alert, it’s doing you a favour. And it would be, if you were actually in danger. But you’re not most of the time. You’re perfectly safe. You’re system just isn’t reflecting the reality of your present environment.

The good news is that the nervous system is trainable. You can learn to make strategic interventions that will take your system away from de-synch and towards biological synchrony where an easy, pleasurable and meaningful connection to yourself, others and your work all reside.

Join BeSpoke’s Christine Mottram and Acting coach Craig Deuchar at ArtsEd for a weekend workshop of bio-synching using Organic Intelligence® and Fitzmaurice Voicework®. We’ll be exploring biological synchrony in the context of finding presence and creative flow in your artistic process as a performer.

You’ll be guided through and engaging with the fundamentals of what it takes to experience a powerful presence with each other and in the world, all while communicating your work and cultivating experiences of that elusive creative flow.

We’ll explore bio-synch tools and experiences to:

  • cultivate presence in the here and now in an effortless way
  • attract your attention back to life’s simple, non-addictive pleasures
  • reconnect with the feelings of pleasure in your body
  • develop a deep connection to the body, breath, voice and your material
  • connect with yourself and your fellow human beings in a compassionate way
  • channel the charged energy you experience when performing in to creative flow

This will all help clear the way for your creativity to emerge and reconnect you to the natural enjoyment of the present moment with others through your work.

Booking Info:

When: Saturday, June 22nd 10-5pm and Sunday, June 23rd 10-4pm

Where: ArtsEducational Schools London, 14 Bath Road, London W4 1LY

How Much?:

Standard: 170 GBP.

EARLY BIRD: 140 GBP before 31st May

To book or for more info contact:

clmottram@gmail.com and/or

craigdcoaching@gmail.com.

You can also contact us through our Facebook page here.

Payment in to the below account guarantees your spot. Places are limited and on a first come, first serve basis:

C Mottram

Sort code: 20-74-63

Account number: 93735141

We will email you back to confirm your place once payment has been received.

Preparation:

Please wear comfortable clothing like you would wear in a yoga class.

Bring a yoga mat and a zafu or meditation pillow or regular pillow.

Please prepare a piece of text  to work with. This can be anything that is meaningful to you. Examples are(but by no means limited to) a monologue, a song, a poem, a haiku, a movement piece, a dharma talk you may be giving, part of a presentation or a meaningful topic you want to improvise on.

 

Happy Birthday, BeSpoke! Give the Gift of Conversation

BeSpoke Communication

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It’s the start of March and we feel very lucky to have so much to celebrate, first of all Happy International Women’s Day! Whether you’re a woman or have women in your life you love, we hope you’re celebrating in your own way today. It’s a special day for us for many reasons. An important one is that four years ago today the two of us sat down and decided to try an experiment: easily accessible tools to help anyone curious about improving their communications skills. So we created BeSpoke Communication and had a great time figuring out our website and making posts for any interesting ideas that popped into our heads.

You may have noticed we’ve been slightly less than active in quite a while and the truth is life just got busy. We both got married (slightly tragically not to each other but happily to wonderful men), there…

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Happy Birthday, BeSpoke! Give the Gift of Conversation

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It’s the start of March and we feel very lucky to have so much to celebrate, first of all Happy International Women’s Day! Whether you’re a woman or have women in your life you love, we hope you’re celebrating in your own way today. It’s a special day for us for many reasons. An important one is that four years ago today the two of us sat down and decided to try an experiment: easily accessible tools to help anyone curious about improving their communications skills. So we created BeSpoke Communication and had a great time figuring out our website and making posts for any interesting ideas that popped into our heads.

You may have noticed we’ve been slightly less than active in quite a while and the truth is life just got busy. We both got married (slightly tragically not to each other but happily to wonderful men), there has been a house move, travelling, and lots going on in our work lives. But we kept saying we wanted to come back to BeSpoke and think about something new, something more focused on you, the people interested in communication skills we want to reach. And now we’ve taken some time and we’re very excited to share our next step.

To make our content even more user friendly and available we are going to begin experimenting with BeSpoke as a podcast (name TBC although suggestions are welcome, especially plays on BeSpoke). As a starting point this will include making all our current audio clips available in a podcast format so you can subscribe for easy access and the ability to download. But that’s only the beginning.

The future we see for this podcast is as a conversation about communication skills, from the technical to the abstract, we want to talk about it all, and we really want it to be a conversation with you.

To make that possible and genuine we want your questions.

–Have you ever had a comment about the way you communicate that baffled you? Tell us.

— Struggles with public speaking, interviews, being heard in loud environments, being taken seriously?

— If you’re an actor– struggles in the rehearsal, audition, performance process you want discussed? We’re here for it. Questions about breath? Great!

Please DM, write in comments, email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com and we will take your queries under consideration for episodes. We can credit you by first name, initial, or keep it completely anonymous, just let us know.

Funnily enough, we became close friends over a project in postgrad where we made a podcast (but that’s a story for another time) and here we are again! The podcast landscape has changed since those basic days so bear with us while we figure out the technology and get set up.

In the meantime keep the questions coming!

Watch this space for updates along the way. We can’t wait to talk it all out!

Take Good Care,

Christine & Lindsay

 

Voice Work for a Stiff Neck

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Hey Friends,

Is the snowy cold weather in London making you stiff? A stiff neck can have a direct negative impact on the power of your voice. Your voice is created in your larynx, which lives in the neck. If the muscles around the larynx are tight, it inhibits the larynx and can make it harder for the vocal folds to function properly. Doing holistic body work is a great way to help release neck tension, but sometimes you may want to do some more direct release work on the head/neck/ shoulder area. This audio-guided sequence leads you through a series of exercises to help you release the neck. Notice how much better you feel afterwards and how much easier it is to speak!

Let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear from you!

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

Voice Work for Making Announcements

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Hey Friends,

This post goes out to everyone who has ever been in that situation where, while traveling on public transport, you hear that an important announcement is being made, but because it’s being mumbled over the PA system, you didn’t hear a word of it. Every time I’m on public transport and I strain to hear an announcement, it reminds me that the ability to communicate clearly is important for any job description. This is a great sequence for you if part of your job is making announcements over a PA system or microphone, if you’re preparing a speech that requires a microphone or if you’re working on camera. As we’ve discussed in other posts, microphones and PA systems are not very sophisticated technology, and we still have to have clear communication if we want to maximize their potential. This sequence is designed to help.

We’d love to hear your thoughts! Please let us know how it goes.

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

Voice Work for Listening

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Can we harness our breathing to have a peaceful inner flow (like this river!) while we listen, so we can cultivate compassionate listening? 

Talking is only one side of communication. And sometimes, when I look at the larger sociopolitical landscape of our world, it seems like there is a lot of talking. Platforms are sprouting up everywhere that allow people to make their viewpoints known across any medium. There seems to be much value placed on self-expression across these multiple platforms. This is why communication coaching on how you talk can be so valuable.

However, what seems to be lacking across these platforms is any emphasis on the importance of listening. Whether we’re talking about Twitter or a difficult face-to-face discussion, the only value seems to be on getting heard. I as a communication coach am often guilty of this. I want to empower people’s voices— that is at the heart of what I do. Sometimes, though, I’m putting too much emphasis on being heard, and not balancing that out with teaching my clients to listen, which actually, for many of us, is the harder thing to do: listening without interrupting, listening without immediately reacting, taking the time to consider another point of view— listening compassionately.

With that in mind, if you would like to train yourself to be a better listener, here are some simple steps to follow the next time you are in conversation. These steps are particularly important if you are having a difficult discussion or talking to someone whose opinion you disagree with.

Step 1: Breathe. I cannot talk enough about how crucial this step is. A lot of us hold our breath while we are listening to others. Sometimes this is why we can become so reactive— because our bodies are starting to panic from lack of oxygen. You don’t have to control your breathing, just make sure you aren’t holding it. You can even notice how what you are hearing is affecting your breathing rhythm. Breathe throughout the listening process and use your breathing to help you allow the other person to make their whole point (instead of interrupting halfway through). This also keeps you from focusing on preparing what you’re going to say next, which is what most of us do when we are listening, rather than actually listening. And definitely take another breath right before you respond, to make sure you don’t launch into a reaction you will regret later.

Step 2: Stay aware of your body. Often, especially when a viewpoint is difficult to hear, our energy tends to shoot upwards and we lose our grounding. This can lead to holding the breath and all of the pitfalls of breath-holding that are mentioned above. So keep checking in with where you are being supported by whatever surface you’re on while you’re listening. If you are sitting, where do you feel supported by the surface you’re sitting on? If you’re standing, where do you feel supported by the floor? It’s possible to be aware of these sensations as you listen to the other person talking, and helps you stay grounded as you do so.

Step 3: Listening is not about being an open receptacle for other people’s thoughts and feelings. You are allowed to have thoughts and emotions about what other people are saying. You are human too. Non-reactive communication and allowing others to speak does not mean you don’t get to feel. But using your breathing and awareness of your body to stay grounded helps you to acknowledge those feelings without immediately communicating them, including nonverbally, while someone is talking (which is another way of interrupting). Clock your feelings, allow them in, but keep breathing and grounding yourself so that you can honor that it’s someone else’s airtime. When it’s your turn, you’ll get to voice how you feel. Giving yourself this time also allows for a shift to happen in how you feel, if that’s in the cards.

Step 4: Be aware of how much space you are taking in the conversation. If you are doing all the talking, then you’ve left no room for listening. Start to monitor, in your daily life, how much you are doing the talking when in conversation. If you’re noticing a pattern of over 50% talking over 50% of the time, consider making an adjustment. Stretch those listening muscles. I have had students in the past who have misinterpreted an empowered voice with being able to talk for as long as they wanted to, and thinking that others would just have to listen until they were done because they had the right to speak. That is no longer empowered or empowering communication. Empowered communication, in my humble view, also seeks to empower others. If it becomes about talking as much as you want, all that is is an attempt to dominate. I believe that my students were simply overcorrecting. If you feel you may be overcorrecting as well, use this awareness of space to find balance.

Listening is not easy, which is why we have to train! Try to implement these simple steps, maybe even one at a time at first, and notice what happens in your personal and professional relationships. We truly believe that listening is the missing key to a lot of current world events, both big-scale and small-scale. We would love to hear how it’s going for you!

take good care,

Christine

Wonder Woman Warm Up

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Hi Friends,

Happy New Year! This Wonder Woman-inspired audio guide is designed to help you start out 2018 communicating to yourself and to others in a strong, supported way. There’s a story behind this post. While I was on my way home for the holidays, I decided to finally watch ‘Wonder Woman.’ I was on a plane and, thankfully, I had the whole row to myself, because I had about three uncontrollable sobbing fits while watching this movie. I am not exaggerating. I was hiding my head behind my pillow as tears streamed down my face and my body was shaking with tears. It was dramatic.

I cried the first time because it was such a relief and a joy to watch women warrior training sequences and see women’s bodies being so empowered. I cried the second and 3rd times because I realized the main character, Wonder Woman, had no shame. What must it be like to have no shame about yourself whatsoever, about your body, your power, your sexuality, your intelligence, because no one ever taught you to feel it or tried to make you feel it? I was crying at the beauty and possibility of that idea. It was a deep couple of hours.

That is exactly what I want to spread in my voice and communication coaching– teaching people how to embody and express their ideas, passions, thoughts and emotions compassionately and with no shame. This warm up is designed to help you do just that. You do not have to be a woman to do it– just a human being who is interested in finding your full communication potential, including tackling the way you communicate with yourself. You’ll work on physical presence, energy, breath, supporting your voice, empowering your self-talk, and practice speaking about your passions/beliefs/curiosities. All in one 20-minute sequence!

Before you do this warm up, if you don’t know what ‘breath support’ is, please listen to one of our other audio guides on breath support. You can find two of them here and here. Understanding that idea will be key to this audio-guide!

I hope this helps you start off 2018 the right way. Please let us know how it goes!

Take good care,

Christine

Voice Work for Tough Talks

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Hey Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving week to our American listeners! Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays, and as Americans living in England, we always celebrate together, so think of us imbibing and eating to our hearts’ content this Saturday. Even if you don’t celebrate this particular holiday, we are entering the holiday season, which for many of us is a general time for both personal and professional reflection. Sometimes, this reflection is the step before major change, which can often mean we need to have some difficult conversations. Might we suggest you talk in a cozy environment like a nice warm pub? You can be inspired by the one in the photo above.

All joking aside, if you know you have a tough talk coming up, this is an audio-guided sequence that is designed to help you get physically, vocally and emotionally prepared for it. You can do this before the difficult conversation, or just do it and use the principles of it the next time a tough talk comes up.

We’d love to hear from you– please let us know how the conversation goes and if this sequence helped you stay grounded through it. Please also share with anyone you think might find this useful!

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay