All Things Vocal Blog & Podcast by Judy Rodman: January 2013

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to Reduce Stage Fright After the Speech is Over

To my readers who are public speakers: I have a guest post today for you from Ryan Rivera, who is an expert in anxiety disorders.  He introduces an important contributing factor to speaker's stage fright that had not occurred to me... that is, what you do AFTER you speak. Ryan says...
Stage fright is an upsetting issue. You go up there, you talk in front of an audience, and your mind essentially panics. You're afraid of stumbling over the words, you're afraid of the audience, and you're afraid that everything you do is going to be judged. That's why so many people worry about going up in front of an audience and making a presentation, and why a large number of people seek out helpful tips on overcoming these stage fright issues.

Most of these tips tell you what to do before your speech, and possibly even during your presentation. But what you may not realize is what happens after your speech is over may have just as powerful an effect on your fear of public speaking as what happens before and after.

The Post-Speech Anxiety

Much of public speaking is behavioral, based on expectations and the way you judge yourself and your abilities. That's why so many people are effected by what happens after the speech. The presentation is over, and immediately the mind goes to the negative:

• "I screwed up at this part."

• "The audience didn't look like they enjoyed it."

• "That was so scary."

You essentially fill your mind with these negative thoughts, and unfortunately those thoughts end up leading the way to future public speaking anxiety. You essentially convince yourself that public speaking is a fear inducing challenge, and so even if you feel you did well in your speech overall, by the time of your next speaking engagement all of the fears and emotions come running back.

That's why it's important to use strategies to reduce public speaking after your speech is over, to reduce the chance of it coming back. Examples of this include:

• Positive Thinking Techniques

Make sure you're not letting your mind focusing on the negative. No matter how bad you feel your speech was, there are always positives to take away. After your speech is over, write out a list of 10 to 20 genuinely positive things that came from the speech, like "I was able to speak loudly and confidently" so that you aren't focusing only on the "mistakes."

• Running and Anxiety Reduction

It's easy to feel yourself on a high after a speech is over. That high is anxiety, and the faster you get rid of it the better you'll feel. One way is to go running. Others are to start deep breathing techniques that calm the mind and body. Don't let yourself stay anxious – find a way to control it immediately.

• Giving the Speech Again

Replacing your memory can also be effective. You remember the speech that you just gave almost too well. Replace it quickly by going home and giving the speech again, either to yourself or to an audience of a friend or two. Replacing the memory of your last presentation with one that was significantly less stressful can be advantageous for future presentations.

• Don't Over-Celebrate

Finally, there is a tendency for those that gave a good speech to over-celebrate by going out and getting drinks or partying. If possible, try to fall into this trap. In a way, by giving yourself a big celebration for the presentation being over, you're essentially acknowledging to yourself that it was "so difficult" that it's worth being excited that the presentation is complete. Ideally, you want to minimize the importance you give the presentation. Staying active and having fun after a speech is good for coping, but try to avoid celebrations.

Fighting the Fear of Public Speaking

Human beings are social creatures, and social creatures can overcome their public speaking fear with enough practice. Stop this type of anxiety through the tips above and strategies shared on this blog and others, and you'll find that your presentations become extremely easy in the future.

About the Author: Ryan Rivera had severe anxiety that interfered with his abilities as a public speaker. Now he provides general and specific anxiety reduction strategies at his website . 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vocal Tension and The Purposed Touch

In my vocal coaching practice, I use a very valuable tool I learned about from three different sources. This tool is at the tip of my fingers... in fact, it's at the tip of yours, too. It is the purposed touch, which can drop tension out of an area - or cause the area to wake up!

First of all, I'd like to credit the following friends for sharing this concept with me:
The purposed touch is deceptively simple to be so powerfully effective. You (or  your vocal coach or health practitioner) use the power of suggestion: touch yourself wherever you sense muscular tension, and tell yourself to 'let go', 'relax there', 'drop it', whatever phrase works. For the voice, here are common spots where I use this purposed touch with my clients:
  • outer corner of cheekbone
  • eye pad (tissue under eye)
  • Jaw hinge
  • Adam's apple (front tip of thyroid cartilage )
  • shoulder
  • neck
  • occipital bone (bottom of skull)
You can use this touch to suggest that the spot relax or activate. For instance, I sometimes have a numb vocal student who can't 'get into' the eyes to touch an eyebrow and tell it to communicate. Usually works like a charm:) 

It is very important to understand you can't just touch the area and expect results. You have to mentally 'will' that place to respond.

Used correctly, it's a light, focused and purposed touch. It's the awesome power of suggestion, and it can change things. 

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Spring Toys Every Singer or Speaker Should Have

My Bubbles, Hula Hoop and Martian Popping Thing

Because every vocal student I have brings unique vocal strengths, weaknesses and personalities, I keep lots of weird things in my office. Just ask anyone who's ever taken a vocal lesson from me... it's never boring:)  I use different toys, objects or gadgets with different voices on different songs.  Note: They work with speakers, too! Some of the ones I use most often (my students can name many others)...

The Martian Popping Thing

  • What you do with it: 
Squeeze the bottom bulge and the eyes and ears bug out!
  • What I use it for:
... to help the singer or speaker experience the voice-freeing sensation of low breath power. The effort necessary to support breath should come from low abs and butt so that powering the voice actually causes the bottom of the ribcage all the way up through the nose and eyes- even the ears - to expand instead of tighten!

Bubbles with Wand for Blowing

  • What you do with it: 
Blow bubbles... with the goal to blow the biggest, longest lasting one you can.
  • What I use it for:
... to get the singer to understand the sensation of balanced breath support/control for the most precise powering of the voice. Blow too hard and you get very small and quickly popping bubbles. Blow too soft and a bubble won't form. Blow just right and you get... big bubbles that last!

Hula Hoop

  • What you do with it: 
Twirl it around hips and try not to drop it. Doesn't matter if you're successful, just try!
  • What I use it for:
... to get the singer to loosen up! Lots of vocal students come in tight, tense bodies.  This kind of tension is always counterproductive to the workings of the breath, throat and communication techniques. I find that if I ask a stiff client (who trusts me not to be filming) to play with a hula hoop for a few moments, they instantly acquire some flexibility in the spine, hips, knees, shoulders, neck, jaw and as they laugh they even develop flexibility in the face and mask. And yes, I use it on guys, too!

The Motive Behind The Madness:

Playing with certain things while working with the voice gets past the conscious mind and frees up the automatic nervous system to try something different. So next time you pass the toy isle this spring.... check and see if you can find something for yourself!

What about you? Ever had something weird help you gain vocal progress? Are you my vocal student? What tool did we use that turned the light on for you?

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