How To Communicate With Your Whole Voice

Is there a mismatch between the way you speak and the way you write?

There was for us. And that’s what drew us together.

Thea was a performer and speaking coach from the UK with a history of failed written exams and broken writing dreams. Dyslexia and the British education system does that.

Edyth was an author and writing coach from Canada, hiding behind the safety of the written word. Blaming her tongue-tied-ness on not speaking English until she was six years old.

We both had our ill-fated origin stories, our cringe sagas, our excuses for polishing only one side of the communication coin. That one shiny side had become our talent and our gift. The other dingy side, an embarrassment that was holding us back in our lives and in our work.

And then we met, magnetized by a shared dream–to become whole voice communicators. But first we needed to consider what was standing in the way.

Turns out it was a glass wall.

Edyth of us was unable to connect to her deeper knowing and rich vocabulary while speaking.  She felt like an outsider, separated from her audience by a glass wall, detached from the shared speaking space. Desperate to speak and be heard, she’d try to claw her way through the glass wall. This was so exhausting that she’d often speak too fast and stay in the shallows. The intimate writing space was her comfort zone, the place where she’d always shone.

Whereas Thea was unable to feel her listeners while writing. She also felt separated from her audience by a glass wall. Whenever she’d enter the writing space, she’d encounter the deafening void of the blank page and feel a detached numbness. She missed the urgency and immediacy of the active speaking space. This space, in which her audience was a palpable presence, was her comfort zone, the place where she’d always felt most alive.

For both of us, the glass wall was manufactured by our histories, fears, rationalizations, and lack of skill. The wall obstructed our ability to be fully with our live or imagined audiences. It stymied our sense of with-ness.

If the glass wall was manufactured, it could also be dismantled and shattered. 

What would this take?

First we had to step out from behind the glass wall and leap into wholeness. It was a conscious choice and it took courage. We had to leave our comfort zones, our self-judgments, and our habits behind. Thankfully, we could hold each other’s hands while making the leap. We are still leaping.

We’re into our fourth year of working together. Initially it was for our own growth into wholeness. Recently, we joined forces, under Thea’s well-established banner of Working with Voice, to offer whole voice communication to changemakers, culture shapers, community seekers, and co-creative communicators with their own glass walls. 

While each person’s glass wall is different, here are three small steps you can take now to close the gap between you and your audience, and to create a greater sense of with-ness.

  1. Inside-ness. Consciously place yourself inside the dynamic communication space, whether your audience is live or imagined. Trust that you belong. Trust that you are held by the communication space between us, around us, and within us.
  1. Slow-ness. While speaking, slow down and pause often, as you draw up buckets of words from the deep well of your whole being and pour yourself into the active speaking space. It may help to visualize and feel key words or phrases while you speak. You can find more on the magic of pausing here
  1. Now-ness. While writing, stay connected to the moment, to your shifting thoughts and feelings, and to what wants to be written, as you pour yourself onto the living page. It may help to record what you want to write, as if you are speaking to a live audience and then bring that voice to the page.

Ingrained habits of separation and rationalization are not your fault. They come from thousands of experiences, both big and small, that made your voice shrink a little each time. Whilst they do not change overnight they are yours to transform in this lifetime. We can begin by recognizing the shared communication space, whether speaking or writing, as a dynamic playground, ever-changing and alive. 

The communication space calls to our shared human-ness and our desire to be whole. It invites us to break or leap over our glass wall, to commune with others, to speak up for something bigger than ourselves, and to voice what really matters.

Let’s lean into our shared human-ness. Transformative and meaningful communication emerges when two or more people connect somewhere, somehow. 

Let’s create a conversation culture that is more honest, kind, generous, and whole. One that lifts us from the fraught, lonely exhaustion of disconnection and inspires us to show up fully with each other.

If you believe that such a conversation culture is an urgently needed step forward then help others find this article by leaving claps and sharing this on your chosen platforms using the hashtag #conversationculture and tag us so we can respond and help this grow.

Edyth Friesen is the author of “Writing with Your Ever-Present Muse” Nowadays, she lives with her husband Rudy, on the unceded traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation on Vancouver Island, Canada, with its overlapping distances and soft shadows. 

Thea May is a speaking coach and spoken word artist. Nowadays, she lives with her husband George and cat Bell on the bleak and beautiful wilds of Norfolk, England. 

Follow our socials: Edyth & Thea for more tools and thoughts around how to bring conversation culture into your life, workplace and society. Or drop into any of our events to get what you need.

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