So here is a dirty little Ali-secret: In a past life, I studied theater. (There it is, out in the open. Now you know! What a relief, to get that off my chest!) When I decided to stop, I thought I had spent years honing skills that were painfully specific and evermore useless to me. Now that I spend so many hours of my week using my voice to guide a room full of people, having studied how to use it comes in quite handy.
So here is a little pocket-knife guide to the Powah of Your Voice. And just like a pocket-knife, your voice is a tool to get a job done. Arbitrarily altering any of these aspects won’t improve your class at all. So as you play around with the Powah of Your Voice, keep asking yourself,
What am I trying to create in this class right now?
This is some serious power I’m offering up here. Another thing I learned studying theater is that the “how” is often more important than the “what.” The words you say are important, but how you are saying them can be the difference between a terrible class and a great class; or, more likely, an okay class and a great class. These tools can help you in all kinds of ways as you teach. They can help you:
- create a mood
- energize the class
- inspire confidence
- take them on a journey
- hold their attention
- get them to stop talking!
- relax the class
- hone your teaching style
Just like in music. The notes in your voice.
We all have a natural range for our voices. Experiment with pushing out of this range, either higher or lower. Rolling through lots of notes as you speak can help create a conversational tone. Staying on one note (monotone) can create a hypnotizing, calming effect.
How fast or slow you talk. Also the rhythm in your voice.
Slowing your voice down means that folks have more time to integrate and understand each word, which makes it a great tool for calming them. Your voice creates the rhythm for the class, especially in vinyasa-inspired classes. They are breathing according to the rhythm of your voice. That’s some power, that is. 😉
Volume, for one. But also the inner power that you bring to your voice.
Volume is often a difficult thing to judge from inside your own head, so experiment with friends. There is a range that will be comfortable listening. You don’t want students to have to strain to hear you, and you don’t want to shout them down, either. If there are forty folks in a room, you would speak at a different volume than if you have two folks in a room.
Know when to stop talking.
Stop talking for a moment. Stop talking for a minute. Do it on purpose and let the quiet of the room, or the music, or the breath take center stage. Let the last thing you said reverberate in that stillness. Just like an artist knows the power in leaving strategic spots empty, so can you purposefully cease your voice.
The contrast of any of these tools to another, or the contrast of your voice to the atmosphere in the room.
This tool is like a bright yellow highlighter. When you want to imply LISTEN TO THIS! Place that gem on a contrasting background. Speak at one pace, then slow waaay down for your gem. Then return to your previous pace. Or, say one phrase at a different pitch. Or a different volume. This is a powerful tool, as it a fun way to experiment linking the others together.