Don’t let Twitter Make You a Twit: Finding Your Voice on Twitter

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I resisted Twitter for a long time. It just never appealed to me. I already feel like I have enough social media to handle, as well as enough noise coming at me, with Facebook. I also didn’t really like what seemed to be the principle behind Twitter— which seemed from the outside like it was just turning complex ideas into soundbites. It gave people a platform for spreading ideas quickly, but at the same time it seemed to be making communication worse, not better. A prime example of this is when elected officials in the US tweet during presidential speeches, such as the State of the Union. That kind of platform seems to encourage thoughtlessness in communication— speaking out of turn, responding in the moment rather than building in time for reflection, interrupting others when they are still speaking, and just generally not really listening— which is the cornerstone of communication.

But when Lindsay and I started this online forum at BeSpoke, we wanted to challenge ourselves to explore all avenues of online expression; both for getting our material out there, but also because online communication is yet another way of using one’s voice. My relationship with Twitter initially created skepticism and anxiety, but I’m growing into it— and in fact I find that using the principles we teach for in-person communication can strengthen the Tweeting voice as well.

Here are three tips taken from communication skills coaching that can strengthen your Twitter presence:

  1. If you have nothing to say, say nothing: When we first joined Twitter and started getting followers, I immediately felt this sense of pressure. I thought: ‘I have to say something, and I have to say something regularly, in order to keep and grow our following.’ I would wake up in the morning and think, “What do I tweet today?” And the reality is, there were a lot of days where I just had nothing to say. BeSpoke is a forum that posts weekly, not daily, so while I do sometimes come across other articles or interesting items, I am not at the point where I am ready to have daily content. It was a turning point for me to realize, first of all, that I was putting this unnecessary pressure on myself. Just because I had a forum, didn’t mean I needed to consistently use it. In fact, consistently speaking when you have nothing of substance to contribute can diminish your communication power, because people learn to stop listening.
    2. Breathe before you Tweet: The world is full of horror stories of people reactively tweeting without thinking, and living to regret it later. In the same way that words cannot be unspoken—while tweets can be deleted— they cannot be unseen. So before you tweet, take a breath. Is your message something you are comfortable with the entire world seeing? Will you still be comfortable with the entire world seeing it tomorrow? Or the next day? Or years later? If you’re not sure, exhale, leave it for an hour (or a day, month, or year) and come back to it. We always put the pressure on ourselves to respond immediately, but we could all benefit from some more reflection in our communication. Which leads me to:
    3. Listen: Even before Twitter, the world was full of people who had plenty to say (including me!), but the most difficult part of communication, in my humble opinion, is learning how to truly listen. Not letting someone else speak while you think of the next thing to say, as so many of us (me!) are guilty of, but really listening so that you are taking in others’ words and ideas. Breathing while you listen is an excellent way of helping you do just that— take in other people’s words— literally, with your breath! The biggest surprise for me about Twitter is discovering the amount of interesting information that’s out there that I can expose myself to and take in. However, if you find that you are tweeting while someone else is talking to you in real life, maybe even in response to what that person is saying (ahem, US congressmen and women), then put down your device. Trust that there will be time to respond later, and your response will be better, because with listening comes understanding.

I’m still very much in the beginning stages of understanding Twitter. One question that always comes up for me is, to tag, or not to tag when you post? There may be a whole etiquette around this I don’t understand, and yet when I don’t tag, I’m not sure people see my posts! (If you have any insight on this, please comment below, especially if you’re one of the people I’m always tagging!). And while online communication is certainly a new beast with a host of problems and opportunities to consider, it’s reassuring that, at the end of the day, this is still human communication— and we can bring what we already know about it to the table!

Take good care,

Christine

Stretch Your Sound! Breath Support for Bigger Sounds

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Hello friends!

Happy International Yoga Day! We are celebrating by stretching vocally, through exploring some more athletic voice work. In this audio clip, we walk you through how to use your breath support to create healthy bigger sounds. This is good for you if you are working in big spaces and you have to be heard at the back of the room, if you are playing a character who has to shout or do some vocally extreme work, or if just in general you have difficulty being heard without constricting the voice.

If you haven’t checked out our ‘Breath Support Part 1’ audio clip, check that out first as a good base line, particularly if you are listening to this and feel confused. As always, feel free to leave questions or comments below. We would love to hear how it goes.

Take good care,

Christine and Lindsay

Warm Yo’Self! (10 Minute Warm-up)

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Hello friends!

Warm yo’self!

This week we’ve got a 10 minute voice and body warm up for you that includes everything we’ve covered so far— some body and alignment work, breath support, resonance, range and articulation. It’s great as a short daily routine or as a warm up before an audition or presentation.

Let us know how it goes, and stay warm!

Take good care,

Lindsay and Christine

At Home with Breath, Body, and Voice

IMG_3986Photo from the amazing boardwalk murals in Asbury Park, NJ.

Hello Friends!

The last few weeks Christine and I have been traveling, we’ve actually both gone to visit our families in the States. I’ve returned to London now and I’ve been thinking about the idea of home, and beyond that what it means to be at home in a metaphorical way. At home in the voice and in the body.

Being in my childhood home was so comforting, especially with my family and friends around me. I notice sometimes that my voice feels louder there, although now I get teased for using British expressions. In the midst of all that comfort though, I missed my life and home in London too. Since returning I’ve been thinking of all the ways I carry my original home with me, my accent and various attitudes and beliefs, my love of diners. Of course while I was there I couldn’t help but contemplate the traces of my more recent home. Especially in the airport/subway where I longed for the passive aggressive civilization and efficiency of British queuing attitudes. This new blend of my sense of authenticity is interesting to me, at times it feels odd but overall I’ve grown to enjoy it. On the plane back to London I watched Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s film Sisters, which I have to say really did make me laugh. At one of the more poignant (cheesy) moments Amy Poehler’s love interest shares this pearl of wisdom: “Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.” It’s not exactly a fresh concept but given my recent travels it resonated. Then I started thinking about it in relation to Christine’s post last week.

For me a lot of voicework is about coming home to ourselves, not, as Christine so eloquently discussed, trying to meet aesthetic standards that we may feel no connection to. We come home to our bodies to find support, in breath, posture, thought and our voice. Sometimes home is elusive and shifting or surprises us with its presence, but the feeling is clear.

After a long journey or stressful day I like to take some time to come home. This is a simple exercise that can be done on its own or at the end of a yoga sequence, however you’d like to try it. There’s no audio so you can go over the instructions and make them your own.

  • Find a place you can rest comfortably on your back. Get a mat, towel, or whatever will make you comfortable and place it down. You may also want a cushion or two for under your knees or the back of your head.
  • Create some ambiance, whether that’s lighting a favorite candle, selecting the right music or getting a cool cloth with a drop of an essential oil to place wherever you need it. Do something to make the space particular to you.
  • Take time to become comfortable on your back. If you need cushions or other props, grab them. Move between supine and semi-supine to establish what feels best for your body today. Go through a few gentle stretches to get comfortable.
  • Allow yourself to find stillness in the body and focus on the movement of the breath. Don’t worry about controlling it, but be aware of how it’s moving through your body.
  • Notice where your thoughts are going and try not to judge them. Without judgement, allow yourself to think about anything you associate with home in each passing moment. Return to this anchor as often as you wish to.
  • Stay on your back as long as is comfortable. When you decide to get up, ease yourself there. Take some gentle stretches on the floor and mindfully return to standing. Note anything interesting that occurred and carry on with your day.

I hope you enjoy this. As always please feel free to send us your thoughts and questions.

Take Good Care,

Lindsay