Three words that saved my voice (and made training a lot more fun)
Those were the watchwords that saw me, and my voice, through an intensive week of leading corporate workshops while fighting a cold.
“Exhale” came from my bodyworker, Roy, who observed at our last appointment that my breathing seemed tight. “Focus on exhaling,” he said. “The inhaling will take care of itself.” (He’s good with the aphorisms.)
“Pause” and “Trust” were what I added for jangled nerves—not only my concern over how my scratchy throat would manage all that talking, but also the opening-night jitters that went along with one of the classes being a first-time delivery. I wanted an easy way to remember that it’s OK to wait before answering a question…that I can rely on my preparation and my solid training skills…that it’s OK not to over-prepare.
Exhale…pause…trust…turned out to be a revolutionary combination. Not only did it keep my voice relaxed, it slowed down my usually rapid-fire speech. (An acquaintance once said he had to replay my minute-waltz-style voicemail five times before he understood it. And as my spouse will confirm, I’m wont to interrupt, with all good intentions and enthusiasm.) As I stood in front of the training room, the watchwords helped me stay calm, present and receptive to students’ needs while also keeping the class’s energy up. Surprise! There are other ways to keep people engaged besides talking fast.
I had more fun, too.
Now, can I remember to use these watchwords when I’m not training? Like, when I’m writing? Checking email? Talking on the phone?
“Between stimulus and response there is a space . . . ” (Covey)
@Diane – So true! Covey wasn’t the first to notice this ;), but he articulated it beautifully.
[Edit] Actually, I think the elegant articulation was Viktor Frankl’s, quoted or paraphrased by Covey.