I hate the sound of my voice. I can hear you muttering to yourself right now. Yeah, well I do too, but what if I let you in on a little secret, the sound of your voice plays such a small part in the impression you make on others and your ability to be a great leader. Your voice is only authentic and powerful when imperfect alignment with your mind and body, and only then will you be truly heard, able to diffuse conflict and able to make an impact and great impression on others. If leadership growing your confidence, becoming a better public speaker or making a great first impression is still high on your list of things to get around, to do this year then you need to read this. I can speak from personal experience about my amazing interviewee today. Marie Clancy is the founder of say it now a voice consultancy business. She provides life changing, public speaking and communication training designed to ensure powerful first impressions with formidable impact. I sought her out after I received a few public speaking requests, but first let me take you back to the late nineties. I had an epic failure at a public speaking event I was hosting in my job as a sports journalist at the time I couldn’t get the name right for this family. And they won nearly every award on the night. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. And by the time I came off stage my stunning red power suit had sweat stains down to my waist. I had this lovely old lady come up to me at the bar at the end of the night and she patted me on the shoulder, and she said, ‘you looked lovely at the start’. I was so mortified and I vowed there and then I would never step on stage again. And I didn’t for 21 years … until I did. And boy, oh boy did my imposter syndrome wreak havoc. ‘You can’t do this; the last time you did this you made a fool of yourself’. ‘No one wants to hear what you’ve got to say’. And so I nearly pulled the pin on my speaking event until I was introduced to Marie. What I learned was that the actual sound of your voice is such a small part in a way bigger picture that being a great public speaker or simply being able to make a great first impression on someone required a holistic approach that went way deeper than just fixing your posture, breathing a little deeper and addressing your nerves. It does require all that, but there’s so much more to it. So, let’s dive into my conversation with Marie.


‘First up look, I started working with children, teaching them speech and communication, and sometimes their parents would come to me and say, listen, can you help me out with a presentation I’ve got for work? And that sort of opened up a little bit of an avenue with adults, but I had no intention of working with adults back then. This is talking about 30 years ago, then one of the parents was a politician and he got me into coaching, a couple of politicians and I worked there, and I thought, I could see that there was quite an opening in the workplace for adults in this area, but I just wasn’t in the position. It didn’t suit my life at that point in time to venture. And then about 10 years on, my whole life pretty much turned upside down, pretty close to overnight and it was quite clear to me that I had to support my family. I thought, hang about, there’s a real opening here. And it’s something I was interested in. I think I’m in the position to do this now. And so back in 2003, I registered Say it Now, and I started doing mainly voice and communication one-on-one coaching. Then there was the Institute of Public Administration and they said, will you design some communication courses for us and public speaking, which I did. They were well received because of the voice component. A lot of people don’t really understand a lot of the fundamentals of voice training and how important our voice is in communication. And pretty much the rest is history.’


‘Well, in a nutshell, I probably would’ve said this to you at the very start, our mind, body and voice are inextricably linked. So what’s in our mindset, plays out in our body language and ultimately our voice is the outcome. So when I work with people, I can give them all the tricks of the trade, or this is how you present this. And this is how you structure your presentation. What have you. But if I do not address, what’s sabotaging their mindset. I’m only just putting band aids over it. So, whilst I’m not a psychologist, we do explore what’s behind those nerves. We all get them, and these are certain things and tips you can do to control them. But if you don’t really know what is in that mindset, what are you really feeling more than even thinking? And where has that come from your story previously in your life? Once I find that people can connect just the emotional sides. I can’t go down the psychology track, I have to refer them to a psychologist if they need that. But so often they’ve usually been to the psychologist by the time they get to the voice coach, and they will think, oh my gosh, I never thought to think that what happened to me in grade three was affecting me, but that’s a feeling I get when I have to present. And once they sort of connect the emotional side of it, then you can see there’s a bit of a break and a release. And then we go into a lot of the voice work to calm them, to get that lovely presence of mind. So that then if they’re fully present, then, and they’ve got that lovely connection of mind, body and voice, they’ve got that lovely congruency they’re connected, they’re fully present, then they can connect and influence others. And that’s what charismatic people can do or do do.’


‘First it is a self check in, like, where are you at in this moment? Where’s my mind at, at this point in time. Cause at the end of the day, we’ve all got our lives to live and other impacts in our personal life or whatever’s happening in the business life. What have you, when you go to meet someone, do a check in of where’s my mindset at the moment where am I emotionally, because that’s going to play out in my body language? And so, you do have to almost play elements of mind games of, okay, this is going on I’m not happy with this happening in my life, but hey, I’ve got to switch in and I’ve got to become my authentic self, and just be fully present and focused. And a lot of the breathing that deep breathing that intercostal diaphragmatic breathing is the absolute key to accessing that authentic vibration within our body. That will help clear the mind and help really keep us fully connected and congruent. When we converse with someone and people don’t know that you’re being congruent, they just know that whether they’ll trust you or whether they connect with you, but if you are fully connected yourself, you’ve got the best possible chance to connect with someone else. And so that’s a big thing, is that lovely connection, because within the first three to seven seconds of an encounter, we’ve been judged, and that judgment goes in two different categories. They’ve got two different dimensions, really with the judgment it says the warmth factor and the competence. So, the warmth factor is, is this person authentic, what’s their intention. Is their intention a friendly intention, is the intention to help me or have they got another agenda? And either way, whatever we judge with that, then we go into the competence level of actually they are very friendly, but I’m not really convinced that they’re able to deliver what they say they can deliver or what I need them to deliver. And there’s a lady by the name of Amy Cuddy, she’s a social psychologist and she does this at Harvard business school, and she actually studies this warmth and competence. And she said, basically that we rely on that to up to about 80% of when we are making a judgment of someone. So, if we are fully connected, we will come across with that warmth and competence. You’ve got to do this with video too. You’ve got to do your gesturing and what have you within the screen? There’s a whole lot of eye contact, that whole kind of thing. But basically our voice is really important in the video as well as our body and our, and our body language. So, if we are second guessing ourselves, we’ve got that self, you know, that, imposter syndrome and we’re second guessing on what you have that’ll come out in our body language and people will definitely pick that up on a video, more so face to face, but definitely on a video as well.’


‘Certainly, no two voices are identical, so it’s just, it’s like our fingerprint, no fingerprints are, are identical. So basically I think to myself, when I first found that out many years ago, I thought that’s what we should be working on. That is our point of difference. Our authenticity, if we want to be really authentic, we need to access our authentic voice, our authentic sound, our authentic vibration. So, when a baby’s born and they do that first yell or scream, that is accessing their original, authentic vibration, their voice, their sound. Then life goes on and you’ll see them sleeping in the cot and they do that lovely what we call belly breathing, which is that intercostal, diaphragmatic breathing. So, they do the perfect breathing and up to when they get around two that’s when you know, how they get the terrible two tantrums, their little personalities are coming into play. They’re sort of looking at where they are in the family dynamic or the environment around them. And that’s when they start to react a little bit more. And so when we react, depending on our story, we will, even, our personalities doesn’t mean that we’ve faced any trauma or what have you. Our body starts to react. And part of it starts to lock up and you’ll often find we establish more of a higher breadth, and we are moving away from our authentic vibration, our authentic sound.’


‘I think one of the main ones that comes out to me when myself included and with clients is our inability to actively listen. So we have to fully listen. And when I say actively, listen, we have to go back to that presence of mind. Again, we need our mind to be clear and give someone an undivided attention and don’t listen to rebuttal or to speak. Just listen to what that person’s saying. And that’s why I think you would’ve known too. When I was with you, when I was coaching, you I’d take down notes and I would let you speak. So I’m looking at your fluency of speech. I’m listening for different elements in the voice to tell me if that’s a little bit emotional or that’s not too emotional, and I don’t say a word, I’ll listen to what you say. And then I’ll flag certain things and then come back on, oh, Kylie, you spoke about such and such that was interesting. And then you’ll elaborate, and clients will say things like, how did you know to ask me that question? And I think I didn’t, your voice told me that, and your body told me that. So, but I have to be fully present and listen and observe. And you, you’re not going to get it overnight. You just have to practice all the time. And even I say to clients, even if they’re going to the shop or to the butcher, what have you, ask an open-ended question to someone, get them to speak back and observe, start developing your skills of fully listening, actively taking in all the information and observation of their body language, their voice. And in time, you’ll start to get a, feel, a better feel and understanding of people. And that is such a bonus when you’re communicating people feel you’re very interested. There’s the famous quote, people will forget what you said, they’ll forget what you did, but they’ll never forget the way you made them feel. And that’s what charisma is about. It’s about when someone is in your presence, they’re feeling fully heard and they’re feeling fully listened to.’


‘Absolutely and something we all have to work on because when you think of it, we’re so disconnected You have phones where there’s so many distractions that we really have to come back to reconnecting. And even if you have to do it a few times a day, I’ll say to clients, just do-little breath check-ins, put an alarm in your phone and let it go off and up breath. Check in. Where’s my breath right now. Oh, it’s up high. Oh, it’s middle. Okay. Just bring it down low and just do seriously. Two minutes of just bringing it down. You’ve just felt a different person.’


‘Often when people are really upset or distressed, their pace will go quite fast. Their pace of speech fast and their pitch tends to go, their register or pitch tends to go up a little bit higher, listen to them, let them feel that they’re being heard. And then when an opportunity comes, when you speak, keep your pace slower and in more in controlled and keep your register down lower. Well, I mean, you don’t have to be sounding like this, but just, you don’t sort of sound like this either, because when we’re like this, we sound really emotional. And it just may basically what we do is we elevate their emotional levels. So if you just, you just be calm, but not too calm because it’ll sound condescending. So even type yourself and practice a response with just role play with someone and muck around with it and just practice the different levels of your pitch range and your register when you are responding to something and just see if you can hear the difference, even experiment with other people or your kids. When they’re a little bit upset with something, just experiment by slowing your pace down a little bit more, don’t match their pace and don’t match their pitch level. Just go down lower in pitch and register, and pace and just experiment with it.’


‘We have to be fully present and connected ourselves before we can connect to someone else. We have to be aware of our own emotions and how they impact others. And until we have that awareness, we are not, we are in a far less powerful position to be able to influence and help people with their emotions and manage their emotions. So, we have to look at ourselves like how we are actually showing up. Now you just basically had quite a lot of awareness with that lady yesterday. So, you could feel that, oh my gosh, I’m picking up on her negative energy. So for you to slow down and collect yourself, you would’ve had to breathe deeper, take a breath, listen, hang back a bit. And then I bet you anything, your pace would’ve slowed down when you did that. So you are that you were then aware of, oh, hang about, I’m starting to get really quite worked up here myself. But because of your awareness, you were able to breathe deep, get control and bring yourself back to a more manageable level. Even though I bet you, she would have eventually slowed and calmed down a little bit. It’s really funny. It’s almost like it’s contagious and until we fully understand our own emotions and how we’re showing up, we’re in the back seat. We’re not in the box seat at all. We need to be able to just be understanding. We can do that from home. Just even understand how our emotions are playing out at home with the kids. I sort of think to myself, I play mind games. If I have to go into a meeting and I know that this person has blown up in the previous meeting or if their behavior is really poor behavior, but we have to meet up. I just think to myself, I’m not going to take on your energy. And so I do that mind, you know, mind, body, voice, my mindset is I just even make up in my mind, this person has had something terrible happen. I’ll create something in my mind. That’s terrible for me, someone else might find something else terrible. And then I think, they say that the human brain can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction. And I thought that was the biggest crop when I first heard that. I don’t know, have you ever watched a movie and it’s really action packed. The suspense is building up. You’re like quick, get out of there really quick. You get all worked up, your heart’s racing, and even though we know we’re looking at a movie with actors, we know there’s a film crew filming that we actually almost, our mind gets tricked, and we start to get the emotional response of what’s really happening. Well, we can do that and have that work for us by imagining that someone has had something, whatever it is that we need to think that creates an empathy for us. When we go into that communication process, we are going to come from a far more empathetic angle. And those kinds of people who are very aggressive, aren’t used to people being empathetic towards them, and they’re used to that full on pushback.’


‘First of all, a posture and relaxation, exercise, something to align the body and open it up. Then if they Google intercostal diaphragmatic breathing, they can see a video, they can, they can have a look at that breathing. If they, that, that they’re not going to be able to achieve that overnight. There’s no two ways about it. We have to practice, but we’ve got to practice it laying down first because that’s the best position you can have to access the depth, then build the capacity of breath. Because as soon as we stand up, the breath naturally tends to rise, but that’s okay because your brain knows how to get it down low. And then you can do little check-ins with keeping your breath down low, do a couple of check-ins a day. And that will put you in a lovely frame of mind to practice those listening skills. That’s what I would probably say those three. So, posture, relaxation, depth of breath, and that listening to connect.’


We would like to thank our Property Management Partners: