Have you checked out our podcast?

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Lindsay preparing to record a new podcast episode 

Hi Friends,

We are thrilled to announce that we now have TEN BeSpoke Speaks podcast episodes that you can download on iTunes or BuzzSprout. Our first ten episodes are audio guides that take you though different vocal warm up sequences for different situations– perfect if you are getting ready for an audition, presentation, performance both live and on camera, or just want to keep up your confidence and vocal health. These episodes are some of the audio guides that you can find on this website, but now they are downloadable, so you can take them with you any and everywhere.

We are now in the process of recording our next round of episodes, where we’ll be discussing questions you have asked us about your voice, or voice and communication generally. The questions we’ve gotten already have been beautifully varied. We’ve had some great questions about using voice technique in social contexts, managing nerves in public speaking situations and how to apply voice technique to character work. We’re happy to discuss any question you have (we just love talking to each other), so if you have any curiosity about your communication, comment below or email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com. When you send us a question, if you’d like us to say something about you on the podcast, like if you’re an actor and you’re working on a project, include details about who you are and where people can find out more about you and we’d be happy to promote you as we discuss your question.

We believe in the power of healthy, empowered communication, so we want to spread this podcast far and wide. If you’re enjoying what you’re hearing, please consider sharing this podcast with anyone you feel could benefit from it. If you feel so moved to leave us a rating and review on iTunes, we would be so grateful.

Feel free to also follow us on instagram @bespokespeaks and on our BeSpoke Communication Facebook page to get regular episode updates.

In the mean time, happy listening!

Christine & Lindsay

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 Warm Up for Teachers

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Hey friends! BeSpoke is back from our summer break, because it’s officially back to school time, y’all. For you teachers out there, that means it’s back to using your voices for hours at a time every day, in all sorts of situations, as you may be facing all sorts of different obstacles. Did you know that teachers make up over half of the population that has to take sick leave for voice rest in the UK? We don’t want that to happen to you. So as you start off the school year, (we’re right there with you– Christine’s classes start next week) let’s be mindful about how you’re taking care of your voice. This week’s audio guide is designed especially with you in mind, teachers. But it’s also useful for anyone looking for a good daily voice warm up.

Let us know how it goes!

We are getting back on a schedule of new content every other week, so stay tuned. If you want to be the first to hear about up-to-date content, consider following our blog! Hit the button that says “Follow blog via email” and you will get an email every time we post.

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

How do you communicate when you don’t speak the language?

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Dessau, Germany

Every year for the past four years, my Easter has looked like this: my partner and I head to Germany, where he is from, and spend a few days visiting family and friends. We see beautiful countryside, visit castles, get fresh air, eat a lot of bread, meat and cheese and drink a lot of beer. Here’s the catch: I don’t speak German. And several members of his family (most notably his mother and father) don’t speak English. And while other friends and family do speak English, naturally (and understandably) they would prefer to speak German.

As a voice and communication coach whose job it is to analyze and play with language, being in Germany and being often unable to communicate is always a humbling experience. While it has definitely been hard, I also believe it’s one of the most important experiences of my life. Language and conversation is my most precious way of connecting to people— you learn a lot about yourself when your language, or your typical means of connection, is taken away from you.

So what to do when you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know the language? How can you communicate? You may not choose to spend your life with a partner whose first language is different than yours, but we will hopefully all get the experience to visit and/or work in other countries and cultures, so let’s consider some useful communication tools when your first language is stripped away from you:

Learn the language!: Ok, this may seem obvious, but if you are going to visit or work in another culture, take steps to learn the language. Depending on how much you are going to be immersed in the new culture, this can seem overwhelming at first. For the first couple of years with my partner, I was so overwhelmed by the idea of learning German that I avoided it completely, because I felt like I had to become fluent immediately. Now I am a lot more realistic with my goals. There are many ways of flexibly learning a new language on your own timescale for a reasonable price. I have worked with Rosetta Stone, which is an excellent computer resource, and for the last couple of years I have made a commitment of practicing German on an app called Duolingo for five minutes every day. That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the consistency that matters. The last few times I’ve been in Germany I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve been able to understand and speak, and it has meant so much to those around me that I have made this effort.

Breathe with the vulnerability: Not knowing or feeling comfortable in a language can feel extremely vulnerable, especially when you are the only person in the room who is in that situation or when you are in a new country where you need to get around and don’t know your surroundings. It’s helpful to keep breathing and feel grounded in the space you’re in. Whenever you start to feel vulnerable or lost, feel where your feet are touching the floor, or if you are sitting, be aware of where your sit bones are supporting you in the chair. Put a hand on your belly and feel how it moves towards your hand when you breathe in and away from your hand when you breathe out. These actions will help you ground and keep you from panicking. They will also make it easier for you to listen when you are trying to grab hold of a language you don’t totally understand.

Be aware of your body language: When you don’t have access to verbal communication, body language becomes even more important. For my first few trips to Germany, when I didn’t know German at all, I had no idea how to interact in group conversations. Do I look at the person talking and act like I am listening when he/she knows I have no idea what’s being said? I found myself nodding my head when people were talking (a habit I have in my own culture that I am trying to be aware of— we often nod to signal we are listening but it’s something I try to be mindful of, because it signals agreement when that’s not always how I feel), and then feeling ridiculous because I was nodding at people when they knew I had no idea what they were talking about! So what to do? If you are in a group conversation, use your body in a way that looks engaged and like you are listening, even if you don’t understand. It will help you pick up new words if you are trying to learn the language, and it will make those around you realize you are making the effort to learn. Everyone likes when you make an effort to learn something about them, including their language. You can even turn it into a game for yourself. Watch how they use their bodies in communication. Notice if you are naturally mirroring them, or try mirroring them and see what that feels like. This helps you stay active and engaged. If you totally break eye contact or stop listening, it gives the impression of boredom— perhaps not an impression you want to leave when you are visiting another culture.

Intercultural communication is an increasingly necessary skill in this ever-globalizing world. While many people do speak English, it’s not fair to always expect them to do so, especially when you are in their culture. So if you find yourself, whether for professional or personal reasons, in a different culture where the first language isn’t English, hopefully these tips will be helpful to you!

Do you have any other thoughts about how to communicate when language is taken away? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Take good care,

Christine

Find your Ground! Connecting to Vocal Authority

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Hey Friends,

If you have ever been told that you don’t sound authoritative enough, or that you aren’t grounded enough, then this sequence is for you. This week, we explore finding an authoritative sound that feels authentic to you and helps you connect on a deeper level to what you are saying. It’s good for public speakers who want to convey their message with credibility and for actors (or anyone!)  who feel like their emotions cause them to constrict and lose their ground.

On another note, this week is BeSpoke’s birthday! March 8th will be our 1st anniversary of having a live site. Help us celebrate– comment below and let us know what your favorite post has been in the last year! We would also love to hear from you if there is something you would like us to cover.

So let’s all say together (authoritatively!)… Happy birthday BeSpoke!!!!!

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

PSA: Free Voice Coaching for Activists

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Last week was the first week we didn’t post since we started this blog on March 8th, 2016. We have no excuse, other than that as two American citizens, we were deeply concerned by the results of the presidential elections last week. Without going too deeply into politics, we were saddened that a candidate who seems to be interested in marginalizing or silencing voices, particularly voices from populations that differ from his own, won the day. And at the same time, we felt it was important to acknowledge the voices of the people who did vote for him– that perhaps we had failed to hear these voices before the election– their concerns, fears, trials, tribulations and general motivations for voting for this kind of change.

Anyway, we spent most of the week feeling speechless, and a lot of the week hiding and imbibing the delicious cocktails you see above, or just straight whiskey. (Some of you may not know this, but Lindsay is a genius at concocting cocktails. This one was a rosemary and cinnamon Old Fashioned.) Feeling speechless is always a humbling experience, particularly when one is a voice coach! But if you can breathe with that speechlessness, it can provide an interesting moment to think, feel and listen.

In our reflective time away, we have had an idea. We want to use our skills as voice coaches to ensure that, in this new world, some voices, particularly those of the under-priviledged, minorities, women, and those who identify as LGBTQ+, aren’t lost. Therefore, if you are an activist giving a speech on behalf of one of these groups, or for one of these groups, or as a member of one of these groups, then we have an offer for you. We would like to offer you 1 free hour of voice and public speaking coaching to help you with your speech– in person or via Skype (so you don’t have to be local to London). In this era of constant communication, we seem to have difficulty hearing each other and communicating with each other respectfully, particularly when we have differing opinions. We would like to help you get your message across effectively and build a rapport with your audience– for FREE.

If this is something that you think remotely relates to you, or that you are interested in, please contact us. You can email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com or comment below. And if you know of anyone that you think would benefit from this, please help us spread the word. We are committed to living in a world where every voice is heard. Let’s start with yours!

ps. By the way, the list of groups doesn’t have to end with the ones mentioned above. If you are an activist who is promoting inclusion, love and care in any way, and you would like public speaking help, please contact us.

pps. This offer will never end.