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Positive Voice Blog

One Simple Way to Transform Your Voice

Posted on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 by Positivevoice

Over the years, I have been constantly looking for the difference that makes the difference in voice transformation. I have had clients who have done it in 3 months and others who have taken years… So, what is it that sets the speedy ‘voice transformers’ apart from the rest?

 

We shall take regular practice as a given (without this, nothing will happen very quickly). So, firstly imagine someone who is practicing the exercises done together in class on a daily basis. Secondly, and here is the ‘trick’; the difference that makes the difference; imagine someone who is becoming very aware of how they sound by making recordings of their voice. In and of itself, this sounds very simple, but it is incredibly effective when done in a certain way. This is the first time I have shared this on a blog, I usually reserve it for my one to one clients, but after coming back from maternity leave, I am feeling excited about sharing these things again, so here it is, in chronological bullet form; one of the best kept secrets; an effective way to reduce your accent:

 

  1. Start by recording your voice in everyday conversation. You may wish to ask someone to do it without telling you (think short recordings of 60 seconds max).
  2. Play back the recordings and make a note of what you like and what you don’t like. Notice what you would like to change.
  3. Make recordings in a variety of situations; at work, on the phone; with your partner or husband or wife and with family and friends. Do you have a ‘different voice’ in different situations? Notice when you use your ‘best voice’. How do you feel in these instances? (Your voice and your emotions are inextricably linked).
  4. Once you have ‘got to know’ your voice, you are ready to start transforming it. Point number 3 will prove very useful and is an exercise to be repeated on a weekly basis. The next point, however, may be the difference that makes the difference:
  5. Find a written transcript with an accompanying audio (Past clients have used: audio books and magazines; such as The Economist and even Harry Potter):
  1. Find a short paragraph and read and listen at the same time.
  2. Repeat point a. several times.
  3. When you are ready (or just before) record yourself reading the passage you have chosen.
  4. Play back the original recording and compare it to your own.
  5. Repeat the process until you are happy with the result.The above exercise is one that I do with my clients on a regular basis. We then go through their audios; correcting rhythm and vocal variety.Please do give this a try and let me know how it goes!


Are you READY to Let Go of Negative Emotions?

Posted on Wednesday, June 03, 2015 by Positivevoice

Whilst this may sound like an unusual question, it is a very important one. If you are someone who connects more with your negative emotions than you do with your positive ones, you may, at some level,  not be ready to let go of them. 

Obviously, everyone is slightly different, but the most common reason for not 'being ready' is that to let go of your negative emotions would imply that they were not justified in the first place. It is human nature to fight to be 'perceived' as being right.  However, If you find yourself wanting to be right to the detriment of your well being, consider for a  moment how life would be different if you no longer lived in fear of other people's opinions, judgement or behaviour. 

By means of an example, i will briefly tell the story of one of my recent clients. 'Lucie' worked in finance and had gone straight from one negative work experience into yet another job where she found herself surrounded by bad management, She found that her boss brought out the worst in her and she no longer had control of her emotions. She frequently lost her temper at work and felt close to a breakdown. When she came to me, she was already working her notice period. She had decided to leave her job and wasn't yet sure what she wanted to do next. I almost immediately took her through the 'timeline method' and enabled her to travel back to her early childhood to let go of the very first time she had felt such negative emotions. Lucie was open minded and went though the process with complete ease, Here was someone who was READY to let go of all those negative behaviours and replace them with much more positive strategies. 

The interesting thing about personal development is that, when done well, it allows you to stop blaming others and to take responsibility for your own emotions. When you are the only person in control of the way you feel, the journey of life runs a lot more smoothly. 

So next time you find yourself reacting to what someone else has said, done or implied, STOP and ask yourself what this says about your current state of mind. Sometimes, it is just a sign that you need to get an early night in order to re-charge your batteries, but when you repeatedly behave in a certain way, it is often a sign that there is a deeper, unresolved issue that needs a little work in order to be shifted. 

Many people assume that their behaviour is part of their personality. This is not the case. You are not your behaviour, your behaviour is just a habit that you have cultivated. It can easily be un-done, with just a little conscious effort. The question is, are you ready?




Clear Speech: 6 Greatest Mistakes

Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 by Positivevoice

In this video, i introduce 6 of the 'greatest mistakes' that people make when doing their best to speak clearly. Have a watch if you would like to avoid making mistakes and improve your speech.



 

How can YOU become more CONFIDENT?

Posted on Monday, May 18, 2015 by Positivevoice


After today’s session with a client, I’ve been mulling over the fact that confidence is different things for different people. For those that it eludes, it can be a case of them having a fear that over shadows their best self. For those who feel confident most of the time- I don’t think anyone can be at their best 24/7, but for those who feel mostly ‘great’, I believe that it is all down to what they focus on. A positive person focuses on positive things, a fearful person focuses on their fears. What does a confident person focus on?

This varies from person to person. For today’s client it was ‘fear of being judged’ and ‘stress’ on the negative side, versus ‘determination’ and ‘ feeling relaxed’ on the confident side. For him, it was a case of realising that both emotions were simply habits and that both had his best interests at heart; to succeed. He was then able to let the ‘stress’ go and to let the ‘determination’ take over.

In short, whatever we focus on, we get more of. So, its ‘fear’ or ‘confidence’, you choose!



What is The Best Version of YOU?

Posted on Thursday, April 09, 2015 by Positivevoice


People often say to me that they are shy, unhappy, an introvert, de-motivated, anxious… you fill in the gap; the options are endless.

If you do this, you are labelling yourself. When you label yourself in this way, you perpetuate the exact behaviour or strategy that you would like to eliminate. This is a theory that rings very true for me.

Despite being aware of this, at week 20 of my pregnancy, I am feeling what can only be described as lack of patience. I have even caught myself exclaiming that 'I have no patience today'. I am staying with my brother, while my lovely partner renovates our new house to make room for baby #2. I couldn’t be happier… when I am safely tucked away in the little log cabin in my brother’s garden, where I am staying with my little girl, but as soon as I go into his house, I find myself surrounded by chaos; my little girl spends her time emptying the kitchen cupboards and I feverishly try to tidy and re-tidy whilst making breakfast or lunch and I am nothing short of impatient with my little niece. I do my very best to contain this annoyance as it bubbles up inside and every so often it spills out in the form of a short telling off. This is me at my worst; grumpy and impatient.

So, what happened to the super patient me and how do I get her back?

The same way I have recovered from both big and small break ups and the same way I have re-motivated myself after a few months off from work.

The hardest part is admitting to yourself that you are less than you could be. Essentially, any negative behaviour is, quite simply, a cry for help from the depths of your being, a call to action; a sign post signalling that a change of direction is required. Once you have spotted this, the solutions are endless. For me, there are currently three things that bring me back into balance and when they are practiced regularly, the old me comes back, relatively fast, feeling patient and solution focused.

My Solutions

  1. Meditation: For me, this enables me to turn off my internal chatter; it relaxes me and gives me time to recuperate. There are many forms of mediation and I use a combination of the ones I have come across, according to my mood.
  2. Yoga: I find this incredibly relaxing and energising. My favourites are Anusara and Hridaya because they are simultaneously relaxing and energising. I always feel my best after practice. Pre- natal yoga is obviously the only option for me right now, but I also find it helps a great deal.
  3. Personal Development books: When my positive, motivated self is in need of a little re-enforcement, I always go for one of my favourite books. Right now, I am following ‘A Course in Miracles’, which is the ultimate personal development book. Some people find it a little heavy and prefer to read books based on the text, by authors such as Marianne Williamson and Gabrielle Bernstein, which are also incredibly transformational.

Other simple ways to uplift my mood are: writing, teaching and going for walks in the countryside (where I happen to be right now).

I would say that I am ‘at my best’ when I am doing the things I love, like coaching or playing with my little girl. Who are you when you are at your best? What is your ‘perfect solution’ – after all, it is all about being solution focused, isn’t it?

For yoga and mediation, I recommend:

For relaxation:

http://theheartcentreyoga.co.uk/about/

http://www.ambikayoga.co.uk/

For fitness, energising and pure fun:

http://www.cityogi.com/



What is the BEST Learning Style For YOU?

Posted on Monday, March 23, 2015 by Positivevoice


Have you ever found something EASY to learn?

If so, what was your state of mind at the time?

If no, what is your state of mind when you learn?

If you enjoy learning something new and find it easy, it is clear that you are doing something right. If you feel anxious during or exhausted afterwards then it is clear to me that your learning style is in need of an upgrade.

Ultimately, if you feel anxious it means you care. What if being relaxed were linked to better performance, would you give it a try? The funny thing about this concept is that people often link 'being relaxed' with 'not caring'; this couldn't be further from the truth.  I find that i learn best when i am enjoying something and am learning because i really want to learn. In these moments, i am focused and energized, without feeling overly anxious, but what about when you have to learn something really challenging?

When i was a child, i had a complete block when it came to numbers. At the age of 6, the teacher gave up trying to explain anything to me and left my twin sister to help, as i just couldn't take in what she was saying. I link this to a feeling of fear- i even remember crying when she tried to explain things to me. I don't think she was particularly patient and i don't think i was very good at listening back then- not the best of combinations! So you can imagine how excited i was when i was told that there was an easy way to memorize numbers. 

An NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) friend of mine taught me this. He asked for my bank card, took a deep breath, looked at it for a while and then gave it back. He then took out a piece of paper and wrote the number down. I laughed nervously. Could i do this too? He suggested starting with a phone number and then explained the process. It seemed that all i had to do was relax, take a picture of the numbers in my mind, look away to see whether i could visualise them and keep doing this until i had a picture of the whole number stored. I find that the number is then stored in my short term memory; to commit the number to my long term memory, i just need to repeat the process a few more times, perhaps two-to-three times a day for a couple of days. The key to this, it seemed, was to do it without over trying; to relax and to trust that i would remember it. I now practice this frequently and this element of self belief comes up again and again. If you believe you can do something, you have a much greater chance of succeeding. 

I am a strong believer in the theory that if something isn't working, it is time to make some changes. When it comes to learning, mindset is the first place i look. Thoughts, beliefs, actions and emotions are all linked.

1. Think of something you are learning now or have learned in the past

2. Assess your beliefs about this task; Are you capable? Are you motivated? Will you succeed?

3. How do you feel when you are in the process of studying this subject? Do you feel nervous and agitated or 
are you in flow? 

Try this:

1. Tell yourself  'It's getting easier and easier' then turn OFF that internal chatter and bring yourself heavily into the present, focus and enjoy. If negative thoughts persist, repeat 'My thoughts are meaningless'. 

2. Rather than frowning, SMILE

3. Rather than holding your breath, BREATHE deep breaths right down into your stomach


When you do all the things i have just mentioned, above, you are imitating the learning style of those who succeed. It may not feel totally natural to start with, but the more you practice this, the easier it will become.  











Is Being Introverted Something You Have to Live with?

Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 by Positivevoice


Recently, I worked with a client who claimed to be an introvert. Our coaching session went something like this:

One of the first questions I asked was, “How does this manifest itself?” He replied “I find that I’m not being myself at work”. “Who are you being then?” I asked. “Good question”, he replied, smiling.

When we are not ‘being ourselves’, it is impossible for others to connect with us, which means that we, quite simply, don’t build strong relationships. At work, this can make it hard for people to:

  1. Get to know us
  2. Realise they like us
  3. Build trust

Which are often 3 of the key steps, which precede a promotion.

How can this be overcome?

If you ‘claim’ to be an introvert, one of the first things you need to do is break down this belief. Before you can do this, you need to fully understand what this term means:

Synonyms for introvert

noun person who retreats mentally

  • brooder
  • egoist
  • egotist
  • loner
  • narcissist
  • solitary
  • wallflower
  • autist
  • self-observer

Being introverted is simply a strategy. People who are introverted quite simply ‘retreat mentally’ and over observe themselves. As with all strategies, this can be un-learned and new patterns of behaviour can be practiced and perfected.

How to do this?

Once you are aware of your specific strategies (everyone is a little different). Take the opposite of this and begin to practice it.

For example:

If you are too focused on yourself, use the following exercises to break that pattern:

    1. When you are walking somewhere, instead of thinking or even worse ‘worrying’ about things, observe your environment. Focus in on the colour of the leaves on the trees, the insects buzzing around, the birds in the trees, people walking by you (notice what they’re wearing and the expressions on their faces). This exercise should be done at least once a day for at least a week before you notice any shifts. If you keep it up, it will soon become a habit.
    1. When you meet people for the first time, show a real interest in them; ask them simple questions: “What’s your name?”, “Where do you live?”, “What do you do for a living?”, “Where are you from?” These are just conversation starters, what you are looking for here is a common interest. ‘Oh, you live just outside Paris’. ‘What’s it like?’ “How does it compare to living in England?” “I’ve always wanted to live in France”. Almost everyone loves talking about themselves. The only people who might not are introverts, but the only thing worse than not being asked questions is the silence that forces a fellow introvert to start or maintain a conversation, and this, of course, causes pressure rather than flow. So, jump in quickly and start the meeting as you wish to go on!
    1. When you speak to people give them your undivided attention; notice the expression on their face, the clothes they are wearing and the tone of their voice.** Essentially, this is part of Active Listening

**Again, practice this exercise at least once a day, if not during every conversation you have. Keep this up for two weeks and you will start to notice changes emerging in how you feel.

 These three exercises work very well because they, quite literally, distract an introvert from over internalising their focus. Being introverted is a behaviour that has been learned. All you need to do to break this strategy is to do the opposite. It may feel unnatural to start with, but as always practice makes perfect.

Make it your mission to seek out sociable people who externalise their focus and notice how they do it. I learned this whole phenomenon by doing just this. I was in my early 20s and I was on work placement at Apple Computers. It wasn’t going majorly well, and I had become a little introverted. One day, I saw a young woman waiting in reception. She wasn’t sitting down thinking (or worrying), though. “Wow”, she exclaimed. “Those are gorgeous flowers”, “What are they?” This is all I witnessed of the exchange she had with the receptionist, but it was enough to make me wonder who he was. Shortly afterwards, she sat down at a desk very near mine. She was the new Head of Public Relations. I liked her immediately. She was completely herself with everyone; kind, smiley and genuine. I immediately felt lighter and more energized for the remaining weeks of my placement.

You see, by ‘being real’, you will inspire others to do the same and will find yourself ‘connecting better’ with everyone.

 Good luck! 




The Surest Way to Happiness

Posted on Friday, March 13, 2015 by Positivevoice

Have you ever blamed other people or outside events for your state of emotional well being?

Have you ever thought, “I’ll be happy… when”?

If you’re anything like me, you will say ‘yes’ to both of the above statements.

However, perhaps, you’re also aware that your happiness needn’t be dependent on other people, places or things?

In fact, if it is, you are going to be on a constant emotional rollercoaster: “I can’t afford X” (cue very sad face), “She can’t make it to my party” (This is the END of the world), “I’ve just lost my job” (My life is over)…

BUT, it needn’t be like this! You see, with a few subtle tweaks to your belief systems, nothing will have the power to affect you in this way (well, at least not for long). Of course, we are all human, so it is normal to feel at least a little sadness or disappointment for a moment or two, but what is not ideal is to feel it ALL the time.

For instance, when I find that my little girl doesn’t want to take a nap during the afternoon, rather than focusing on all the work I can’t do (which I love, by the way), I focus on the things that we can do together. I usually say, “OK, let’s go to the park” and once we get there, I know we will run into some other lovely mummies and babies and have an absolute ball and then I can (almost always) guarantee that little Lola will sleep very well that night. You see, it’s all about being positive and solution focused. After all, negative emotions don’t change ANYTHING!

So, where do these feelings begin?

Well, thoughts, feelings and actions are intrinsically linked:

  • When we feel something, we instantly look for meaning, which comes in the form of thoughts
  • When we have a thought or say something, we instantly connect emotionally with these words or thoughts
  • When we take action, this leads to and is preceded by thoughts and feelings

So, how do we control/ modify this automatic chain of reactions:

The Solution:


Each thought can be confronted with what I call, a ‘Counter Thought’. Imagine for a moment that you are your own coach. What would someone who wants the very best for you say? As I have already mentioned, it is all about being positive and solution focused. Here are just a few possibilities:

So next time, you don’t like the thoughts going on within you, come up with a great counter thought. When you’re feeling sad and don’t know why, rather than trying to give your feelings meaning*, take action to bring more joy into your life. Go out into the sunshine, search for solutions on YouTube or read a positive blog. Practice really does make perfect when it comes to this technique- eventually, it will become a natural reflex for you to come up with a counter thought or to take action to help yourself feel better. 

* If you would like to interpret your emotions, you can also do this. Check out my blog to find out how: Read more



How to Become More Convincing and Influential

Posted on Friday, March 06, 2015 by Positivevoice

For starters, I would like to highlight that most politicians have got it all wrong; they are, quite literally, all talk!

In last week’s blog, I told the story of a young student of mine who desperately wanted other people to listen to him. You may remember my main tip:

The people around you act as your mirror; they show you how you are behaving. If you want people to listen to you; listen to them. If you missed last week’s blog, please do have a read now: Last week's Post

When I teach public speaking skills, I always emphasise the need to show interest in your audience and to make your speech as much like a conversation as possible. When you do this, your audience will automatically feel much more valued because they will have the impression that you really care about their opinions. A great knock on effect here, is that they will then become much more interested in your story.

This technique does not need to be reserved for public speaking engagements. It should be incorporated into your everyday life. After all, when someone asks us how we are, whether we had a good weekend, how our holiday was (you fill in the blank), we feel more interesting. You see, if someone is interested in us, we must be interesting and we immediately like these people and value them more.

The main difference between a conversation and a speech is that during a conversation there is an open exchange of ideas, whereas during a speech or presentation, there is a speaker and an audience. So, how do we stop a speech from becoming like a conversation when we add this concept of exchange?

It is quite simple; we ask rhetorical questions or use ‘raise your hand if’ style enquiries.

I like to begin my rhetorical questions in the following manner:

  • I wonder whether….
  • Perhaps…
  • If you’re anything like me…

The above tips should help you to avoid making speeches that are more like conversations or worse still having that are like speeches!



7 Phenomenal Secrets to becoming an Extraordinary Communicator

Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2015 by Positivevoice


Have you ever assessed your own ability to communicate?

If yes, how did you rate yourself?

If no, it is never to late; read on!

Recently, I worked with the loveliest little boy to improve his speech. Essentially, his mother brought him to me saying that he needed to improve his speaking skills and confidence. When asked, he said that he believed that once his speech was clearer, he would feel more confident- he had difficulty pronouncing certain words and sounds, which made him hard to understand at times. Initially, he was not motivated to work directly on his confidence or his manner of communicating; just his pronunciation.

Fast forward 6-8 weeks and I notice that he has something emotional going on, which is impeding his progress when it comes to correcting those speech problems. Every lesson, I calmly asked him how he was feeling in terms of confidence at school and each lesson I was met with the same one word response: good. I wasn’t convinced. One lesson, it became apparent that he was blinking back tears.

Finally, he agreed to open up to me and have a coaching session. A big reminder that you can’t help someone until they WANT to be helped.  It transpired that all the children in his class at school were ignoring him. He tried to speak to them, but they didn’t listen; it was almost as if he wasn’t there. As is often the case, as time went on this had an impact on his grades at school and gave him yet another thing to be upset about. All of a sudden nothing was fun anymore. All he could think about was the misery at school; even when he was at home! He talked to no one but me about this.

So, we had some coaching which had a huge impact on how he felt and of course how you feel has a big impact on how people behave around you, so come the next day at school and that little problem whereby all the other kids were ignoring him had just disappeared!

Another interesting thing about all of this is that in the weeks that followed, his speech improved inordinately.

However, as is often the case, he needed more than just one session focused entirely on this little issue of confidence. As, I can’t force people to do a follow up, he had only had one session. Unfortunately, this breakthrough was followed by a little breakdown just a month later. So, we looked at his situation again. One of the things that jumped out at me was this:

How he communicated did not fill me with the greatest sense of self importance and worth; I was never quite sure how much he was listening to me or taking in. I just kept getting those one or two word responses. So, here is the lesson I taught him next:

How you communicate with others has a HUGE impact on how they communicate with you. When I talk about communication here, I am not just referring to TALKING, but LISTENING! If you are an excellent listener, others will be encouraged to talk to you and furthermore, they will feel amazing around you.

So, here is how to become a great listener (this is a great challenge for all you TALKERS out there).

Before I begin, take a moment to think back to all the greatest conversations you have had. Consider not just the words, but the extent to which you were listened to or encouraged to listen.

After all, what is the point in speaking if no one listens!

7 Secrets to becoming a GREAT listener:

  1. Eye contact: without this, no one will know that you are listening
  2. Undivided attention: put away your phone/tablet!
  3. Facial expressions: smiling, nodding and generally showing keen interest
  4. Avoid the temptation to focus on what you are about to say next: If your thoughts are elsewhere you are not listening. You may be able to repeat back what has just been said in the manner of a parrot, but have you really taken in the deeper levels of meaning?
  5. Little words and noises of agreement or understanding: yes (accompanied by a nod), really, how interesting, oh ok, are you sure? Hmmmm (or similar noises of agreement)
  6. Avoid interrupting: if number 5 (above) involves more than 2-3 words, this is considered as an interruption- some sensitive speakers can’t cope with more than one word, so be a sensitive listener. Always be willing to adapt your listening techniques to fit in with the person speaking- notice what they respond well too
  7. Last but not least: the number one secret: Behave as you would like others to behave around you. Consider those around you as your mirrors. If they are not listening to you, perhaps you are not REALLY listening to them either!

These are just 7 secrets; in reality the list could go on forever. For instance, you could do all the above and go away with nothing after the conversation. Real listening is not just with the eyes or the ears; it is with ALL the senses and only occurs when we really feel what is being said.

During the very best conversations I have ever had; I have lost all awareness of space and time and become totally engrossed in what is being said. This is LISTENING.

In my next post: How to Become More Convincing and Influential, I show how to apply this same little rule to public speaking.




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