Monday, August 18, 2008

Applying yoga to public speaking

As some of you know I've just returned from a 24 day yoga training with Ana Forrest, a master yoga teacher. One of the reasons I wanted to study with her in particular was that I wanted to learn about teaching and public speaking from an expert. I've been doing both for some time and come to enjoy these roles in many ways, but I thought it was time for some "official training".

I ended up learning a lot of really helpful tools for developing an authentic speaking voice (pardon the new-agey lingo). This is crucial to yoga teaching (though I don't plan to become a teacher), but also really any profession where you have to talk about what you do. I got constant voice coaching and did a lot of exercises to refine my skills and get connected to what I want to say when I'm standing in front of a room full of people.

Here are some of the things I learned:

-Speak from full. Before you speak, inhale deeply. Often we speak after we've exhaled, and your voice doesn't have as much power that way. This may seem like a simple thing, but try to pay attention to it next time you're talking, its actually really hard to keep track of!

-Speak louder than you think you have to.

-Stay connected to whatever emotions you're having while you're talking. Again, seems simple. But when you are nervous for instance, you try to distance yourself from what you're feeling. Instead use the nervous energy to feed what you're saying.

-Rehearse a speech you have to give in different voices (ie angry voice, sad voice, happy/hyper voice), then go back to your normal speaking voice. This will help loosen you up and give your speaking better inflection.

-Stay away from using repeat words of any kind, including "um", "like", "we're gonna", that type of thing.

Speaking of which, I'm headed to some libraries today to give a couple talks, details here...


alvinaling said...

Wow, great tips! I'm especially liking the "rehearse a speech in different voices" tip. That could be fun.

Anna Alter said...

It is fun! Some people had to talk like Minnie Mouse, some like Barry White. I had to scream my piece, totally liberating! And it really does help with inflection and projecting your voice.

Kimbra Kasch said...

Thanks for this info. I have my first speaking gig at a writer's conference in November and I'm trying to learn all I can ahead of time.

I like the "speak from full"

Anonymous said...

I've never considered applying what I've learnt in yoga to public speaking before. And actually what you mention about trying different voices is something my piano teacher used to get me to do as a kid with difficult piano pieces so I guess there is a lot of crossover with other areas.