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Creative Career Path

Finding Your Voice2009.07.29

    Winding down from an afternoon of multitasked meetings, I eased into one of my favorite Belgian bars to enjoy a glass of Chimay, Trappist beer and Belgian cheese, something you can enjoy with all of your senses.


    Yet even before they brought the brew to my table, my ears were jarred by the sound somewhere behind me of a robotic voice, sounding like something from a video game. It was loud enough for everyone in the place to hear, menacing and monotonous, and extremely annoying.


    That annoyance, and a waft of secondary smoke, was enough of an assault on my senses to ask for a change of table. It turned out to be a revelation.


    From my new table I was just about to request that the waiter ask the offender to turn off his game boy device, until I got a good look at the man. It was no video game at all, but rather a speech amplifier, which he held to his throat like an electric razor. He was an older man, engaged in a lively conversation with his wife, made possible only by this device which gave him mechanical vocal chords, to replace what he had lost, or perhaps had never had. In an instant, I was overcome with feelings of shame over my shallow prejudgment, and a stark reminder of blessings we take for granted.


    A flashback to childhood, when my grandmother used to chide her grandchildren whenever we complained over petty injustices saying, "I cried when I had no shoes, until I met the man who had no feet."


    Amazingly this memory seemed to turn the volume down of the robotic voice. It had to have been the same, but now it didn’t bother me. There is an intimate connection between awareness and gratitude, and we tend to have too little of both.


    What’s in a voice? It turns out, nearly everything, that is if you value companionship and self-expression. Of all of the senses, it is our ability to hear that most connects us with other people. Hearing and it’s companion speech are the social senses, the loss of which is said to be more emotionally devastating that the loss of sight.


    Nevertheless, blind people are often better judges of character. They hear in people's voices that which we do not see. Visually impaired people often become superb musicians or singers. Suresh Gundappa expresses this very well in his Word Press Blog, Meditation Photography, in which he says that our eyes dominate and compete with the other senses, one reason we close them to appreciate great music, and fine food or fragrance, as well as in prayer.


    I don't believe that it ends with gratitude and appreciation, but rather this is where it begins. Having a voice means more than just being able to speak. It means being able to be heard. It means having something worth sharing, and a flair for saying it. It also means finding your voice, just the right tone and register that expresses your full personality and point of view. Once you find your voice, it will change the quality and character not just of your professional communications, but even of your phone or dinner conversations.


    You don't need to be a professional public speaker to benefit from the skills of being a world class speaker. To be world class you don't even need to speak from a stage, unless you consider with Shakespeare that all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.


    It is ironic that the things which could make the most improvement in our personal presence and well-being, things like walking, breathing, and speaking, are often the things that we take for granted and do nothing to improve.


    Once you make the mind shift that recognizes that nearly all speaking is public speaking, and that all contacts you have with other people are a form of personal presentation, you can find limitless opportunities for practice and improvement. With the Internet, video, podcasting, and social media, we have many ways of delivering our words to others that were not available even a few years before.


    And if you are bilingual or studying a foreign language, you may find that many elements in the art of public speaking are universal, and can come to your rescue when vocabulary and grammar forms fail you. There is much to be said for mastering the process of speaking, because it is connected to nearly all forms of communication.


    Appreciate how fortunate you are to have a voice, but don't stop there. Learn how to use it to express yourself and share your gifts with the world.


    A new program in World Class Speaking will be launched in September, and there are already a number of ways to get started. I have posted further information on my blog at:


    William Reed

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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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