This is part 2 of our 3 part series, ‘Staying Present in Unprecedented Times’, designed to support you through this crazy new world of isolation and uncertainty as we navigate the health crisis that is Covid-19. In Part 1, we took you through a mindfulness practice called Orientation to help you connect to the present moment through your senses.
In this episode, we will practice orientation again, and then move into an oriented body scan so you can start to feel more connected to your body in the present moment, then we end with orientation from a more embodied place. This practice is useful if you find that your thoughts and feelings are consistently spiraling towards worries and anxieties that are not currently happening in the present moment, or if your awareness of the present moment is trending towards the negative. This sequence will help you find more ease in the present moment by helping you connect to the neutral reality of the here and now, and maybe even to what’s pleasant about the here and now– so that if and when you need to communicate, it’s from a place of ease and connection rather than panic and anxiety.
This practice is inspired by Organic Intelligence(r), which you can find out more about here, and Fitzmaurice Voicework(r), which you can find out more about here.
You can also find this episode in podcast form by searching for ‘BeSpoke Speaks’ on iTunes, BuzzSprout, Spotify, GooglePodcasts and Stitcher.
Please let us know how you get on with this practice, what questions it brings up for you, and what other kind of support you would like as we navigate these current times. Please also share this episode with anyone you think could use the support.
There’s no doubt about it– these are some unprecedented times. At the time we are publishing this post, the UK and much of Europe are on lockdown– we don’t know how long it’s going to go on and how much our world is going to change by the time we get through the health crisis caused by Covid-19.
If you’re like us, you may be finding yourself particularly isolated and anxious these days. We created a three-part series to help you stay present and find some ease in these crazy times. This episode is the first part, and will take you through a practice called ‘Orientation’, which is essentially connecting to the environment you’re in through your five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste– so that you can connect to the neutral reality of the here and now, and maybe even what’s pleasant about the here and now.
This practice is especially useful if you find that your thoughts and feelings are consistently spiraling towards fear/worry/anxiety about the future, or even if your focus in the present moment is consistently getting drawn towards ‘what’s wrong’ with the present moment. Orientation can help you come back to other aspects of the reality of here and now– from what’s okay to even what’s pleasant– so that it’s easier for you to access the full range of your experience. This helps ensure that, as and when you need to communicate, you can communicate from a place of connection and ease. Orientation is a useful practice for any time in life, but particularly right now.
You can also find this episode in podcast format by searching for ‘BeSpoke Speaks’ on iTunes, BuzzSprout, Spotify, GooglePodcasts and Stitcher.
Please let us know how you get on with this practice, what questions it brings up for you, and if you have other ideas around how we can support you at this time. Please also share this episode with anyone you feel could use this support.
We recorded this episode and wrote this post a few weeks ago, having no idea of the world we’d be living in when it came out. We think this post is especially important in this new reality, as we are all grappling with the anxiety that comes from the unknown. We hope you find the tools in this episode useful and we hope that you are staying healthy and well!
Are you looking to become more present in your communication, or just in general? In this episode, Christine talks with her dear friend and colleague Craig Deuchar about a body of work called Organic Intelligence(r), and why it can be a useful practice to help you become more present generally and in your communication. Christine started working with Craig on an OI practice almost two years ago, and it has completely transformed the way she approaches communication training.
Organic Intelligence is a mindfulness and compassion based clinical approach designed to alleviate the symptoms of stress, anxiety and trauma and help people live more present and vibrant lives. Christine talks to Craig about why, as a practice, it can help people become more present communicators. Themes that come up are:
– how OI can help alleviate the stress and anxiety that often comes with public speaking and performance by helping you take your attention off of “what’s wrong”
– An explanation of how Fight/Flight/Freeze states can take over in communication situations, and how a practice called Orientation can help you not only reconnect to yourself and your environment, but even find more enjoyment and curiosity in your communication
– how OI is different from (and yet complementary to) other mindfulness-based approaches and public speaking training/actor training approaches
Craig is a voice, presence and OI coach and does some corporate communication work. He works with the nervous system to help people get more regulated on a biological level and how that manifests into their lives in a positive way, whether through an OI session or a voice session or an acting session. Find out more about him at www.craigdcoaching.co.uk.
You can also download this episode in podcast form on iTunes, BuzzSprout, GooglePlay, Stitcher and Spotify.
What curiosities does this bring up for you? We’d love to hear so we can address them in future episodes!
This episode is a follow-up from “Listen Up”, which came out a few weeks ago. In that episode, embodied living coach Nathalie-Joel Smith and Christine talked about the important role that listening plays in communication, and why it can be so hard to do. In this episode, Nathalie guides you through an embodied listening sequence so that you can actually practice listening, which you can use as a warm up and as a standalone practice in honing your ability to be more present in your own body and surroundings.
The invitation in this sequence is to start by listening to what’s going on with ourselves— getting better and better at it so that we can also extend that attention to others.
There will be some movement so wear comfortable clothing. There will also be an opportunity to lie down we’ll lie down so you might like to have a blanket or a mat to be more comfortable.
We recorded this at rush hour so there are quite a few trains going through the episode. You can use them as a way of listening to sounds that are going on outside of you and the space you’re in, which you’ll be invited to do during the sequence.
You can also download this episode in podcast form on iTunes, BuzzSprout, Stitcher, GooglePlay and Spotify by searching for “BeSpoke Speaks.”
Are you an actor who is working or who has an interest in working in Film/TV? If so, this episode is geared for you.
In this episode, Christine interviews her dear friend and colleague Mark Street about the importance of actors applying their voice work to any work they do on camera. Mark is a filmmaker and Screen Acting Tutor at ArtsEd in London, and in his work he identifies several regular pitfalls that actors fall into vocally when working onscreen, including:
dropping the voice down and not having intention. This sometimes comes from relying too much on a microphone, and sometimes it happens because actors confuse sounding “natural” or “real” with sounding under-energized and uncommitted
Coloring the voice without any intention behind it. This often happens because actors aren’t thinking through the thoughts they’re speaking out loud.
Mark talks about the importance of intention and thought to on-camera acting work, and how crucial the voice and body are to communicating with intention. Themes that come up are:
The uselessness of focusing on sounding “natural” or “real”. Instead, it’s more helpful for actors to focus on what they want from who they are talking to
Defining “The Victory Statement”– a visual actors can give themselves to know if they are getting what they want from the other person
Defining the “Real Space” that actors have to consider when working on camera and how to play it vocally
The importance of actors having a rehearsal system for themselves before they go onset that includes working the scene vocally and physically, as film/tv schedules offer very little onset rehearsal time
The importance of breathing to Intention in acting, as well as to keeping the actor grounded in high-pressure film environments
There is not a lot of information out there about how to apply voice work to film/tv work, so if you are a Film/TV actor or someone who speaks regularly on camera, this episode is a good starting point for how to consider your voice when working. Let us know what questions this brings up for you! We are already in discussion with Mark about potential follow-up episodes based on your questions.
If this episode inspires you to do some voice warm ups before doing some work on camera, you can find some guided sequences here and here.
If you’d like to download this episode in podcast form, you can find it on iTunes, BuzzSprout, Stitcher, GooglePlay and Spotify by searching for “Bespoke Speaks.”
For more about Mark Street:
Mark trained as an actor before directing and writing plays on the London fringe circuit. He was a co-founder of 104 Theatre Company with which he won the Edinburgh Fringe First Award for a devised piece entitled ‘See Base Of Can’.
He then started his own production company ‘From The Streets Productions’ with his wife and Producer Jane Street. Together they began working on short film projects alongside their theatre work. Mark’s first film went on to showcase at London’s Raindance Film Festival and his second ‘The Noisy Neighbour’ a horror based on Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ began its festival run at ‘The Commonwealth Film Festival’. Mark has gone on to have a successful career directing for both stage and screen collaborating with a wealth of talented writers, editors, animators and producers.
Mark is currently developing his next feature having just finished his feature-length documentary entitled ‘The Space: Theatre of Survival’ – about a young group of writers, directors, actors and artists that used their work to challenge the racist government in Apartheid South Africa during the 1970s. The film is currently touring the festival circuit with distribution later in the year.
Mark also enjoys teaching screen acting at Arts Ed where he is the Senior Screen Acting Tutor.
This week’s episode is of the future! Not really because we recorded back in January but the focus of our discussion and tips is voice and tech. We discuss the potential barriers of technology to effective communication and offer tips and tricks to turn it to your advantage. Whether you’re submitting audition videos, live streaming meetings or events in your job, or—I don’t know—podcasting at home, this is for you!
We also cover working with tech in live situations, so discussing different types of microphones, including a side story about discovering what AV teams refer to as “the Madonna Mic,” and really emphasising the importance of asking for what you prefer or need in a situation where tech is required to support your voice!
So get ready to embrace your status as tech lay person, lean into the importance of doing sound checks before you record or launch your live stream, and embrace the reach that technology allows us to have. As always, we’re keen to hear your questions and comments so please contact us however you see fit.
You can find this episode in podcast form on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcast and the majority of alternative platforms. Please subscribe and review if you’re enjoying our content!
We’re dipping our toes into a big conversation this week, talking about something that we’ve both experienced and are frequently asked about by family and friends…JAW TENSION! Whether it’s situational, emotional, grinding teeth, alignment issues, athletic activity, the jaw is an interesting reflection of how we manage all kinds of stresses. This episode is a general conversation about where it comes from and dealing with the discomfort of jaw pain. It also offers a couple exercises you can do anytime, anywhere.
We also take a moment to celebrate our fantastic technological advancements for 2020, which will hopefully mean better and better audio quality for you.
But back to the jaw, there are numerous resources you can look into to help manage tension and pain. Healthline offers a useful article that outlines different conditions in case you’re concerned what you’re feeling goes beyond day to day stress. If you are a nighttime teeth grinder this one has some good prevention tips.
The conversation and these starting exercises have made us realise we want to follow up with discussions about the tongue and the sneaky ways the tongue and jaw can create insidious little exchanges of tension. Our plan is to provide you with strategies for release and to keep tightness and pain at bay so if you notice anything and want to ask a question or make a comment, please do! We would love to incorporate your thoughts into upcoming episodes.
In the meantime, be kind to yourself and your jaw. Take that extra moment in the shower or before bed to check in and give it a little massage, and try to check your frustration when pain/tension appears. It’s just another way our fight or flight instincts kick in to try and protect us by bracing. Let yourself know it’s ok, and hopefully that will encourage the discomfort to recede. Don’t be afraid of the lessons your jaw has for you!
As always we’ll encourage you to subscribe and review the podcast wherever you might choose to listen.
This is an extra special episode because it features an interview with Christine’s husband, Emanuel Adam. Through his job, Emanuel regularly does radio and TV interviews with the likes of BBC, CNN and NPR, and he and Christine talk here about advice he has as someone who has had very little media training on how to approach these high-pressure interview situations. His advice is great for these specialized situations but also holds for any public speaking event.
The big theme that comes up in the episode for both TV and Radio is the importance of having a preparation process that includes preparing mentally, physically, vocally and even emotionally, as these are high-pressure situations that can often be stressful. Emanuel often gets called for an interview with very little notice— even so— he stands by his preparation routine, adjusting it as he needs to the time he has available.
His prep routine includes:
Research: getting knowledgeable about the most up-to-date content and the importance of researching from the interviewer’s perspective— thinking through ahead of time about what questions might be asked
Notes: Creating bullet-point notes for himself that he can refer to during interviews
Setting up an environment he feels at ease in for the interview: he talks through different ways he does this for radio vs. TV
Practicing out loud: Taking the time to practice answering potential questions out loud, so that he can practice articulating his research in his spoken voice, and so that he can practice speaking more slowly, which is so key generally for radio and TV interviews, especially when you’re feeling nervous
Managing Nerves: Getting grounded in his body and breathing to help him manage his nerves
As a communication coaches, we are very impressed with Emanuel’s prep routine. People often underestimate the amount of prep time it requires to feel at ease in public speaking situations, or mistakenly think that preparing will make them feel and look less spontaneous and authentic. It’s actually the opposite! The more prepared you are, the more your personality can shine in an interview situation, because it’s a lot less likely that you will get caught off guard or panic.
Have a listen to his process and let us know what you think. You can also download this episode on iTunes by searching for ‘BeSpoke Speaks’ or on BuzzSprout.
To find out more about Emanuel:
Emanuel leads the UK operation for BritishAmerican Business, a large transatlantic trade and business association dedicated to grow the transatlantic economic corridor. Having spent almost his entire career in trade, Emanuel serves as one of BAB’s main spokespeople, representing the organisation’s member companies on relevant business issues. In this function, Emanuel appears regularly on local and international media outlets in both the UK and the US. He covers issues ranging from international trade, tax, investment, immigration, often around major Government visits. Or in his words: “Whenever a US President decides to visit the UK; I get a call”.
In this episode, Christine interviews her dear friend and colleague, Nathalie Joel-Smith, about the importance of embodied listening in communication.
The importance of listening can sometimes get overlooked in communication coaching, both for actors and public speakers, even though it really is the vital component to connection within communication. Nathalie and Christine discuss what listening really is, why it can be hard to listen, and tools we can develop to listen better. Themes that come up are:
Defining “Listening in” and “Listening out”: listening is a sensorial experience that involves tuning into our surroundings and who we’re talking to through our senses, as well as tuning into our internal experience through our sensations, emotions and thoughts
The importance of breathing to listening
Defining “Bodyfulness”— a term that encompasses mindfulness and includes the rest of the body’s experience. Nathalie mentions a great resource, a book called Bodyfulness: Somatic Practices for Presence, Empowerment, and Waking up to this Life by Christine Caldwell
A discussion about the nervous system states of Fight/Flight/Freeze/Fawn and how they can impact our communication, particularly our ability to listen, when they become habitual states instead of important survival signals
The vulnerability that listening requires, which is why it can be so hard (and yet so rewarding!) to do
Nathalie is a movement teacher, embodiment coach and performing artist. She does workshops and has online courses and coaching for embodied living, which is to do with how we navigate life challenges, desires and emotions with presence and compassion. Her background is in performing arts— she trained in Musical Theatre at ArtsEd. You can find out more about her at www.nathaliejoelsmith.co.uk and follow her on Instagram and Facebook @the_creative_body.
This episode will shortly have a follow-up episode where Nathalie guides us through an embodied listening warm up. Stay tuned!
You can also download this episode on iTunes by searching for ‘BeSpoke Speaks’ or on BuzzSprout.
Let us know below if you have any questions or comments! We would love to hear from you.
Welcome to our first post of 2020. This episode is a practical sequence to warm you up mentally, physically and vocally for social situations. Inspiration for this sequence came from an earlier episode, ‘Voice Work for Social Situations’ where we answered a question from a listener about why it can be hard to apply voice technique to social situations. This is a practical sequence that addresses the solutions we talked about in that episode.
This sequence is for you if:
you ever experience anxiety in social situations. This is designed to help ground you so that you can find more enjoyment in your social experience
You ever struggle with being heard in social contexts. If you find yourself mumbling, speaking too fast or struggling in loud environments
The sequence includes exercises that will:
help you feel more grounded and at ease in your environment and in your body
help you breathe better
help you speak more clearly while still feeing authentic, especially in louder environments
It’s designed to do before you go into a social situation, and at the end of the episode Christine gives you things to think about when you’re in the social context,so that you can apply the tools you learn in the sequence directly to the situation.
While this is a great warm up for social situations, public speaking and acting are also social situations, so feel free to also use this as a warm up for any context where you want to communicate with more ease.
You can also download this episode on iTunes by searching for ‘BeSpoke Speaks’ or on BuzzSprout.
Let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear any comments or questions you have– feel free to comment below.