Future Design Podcast #014 with Cynthia Zhai – Get Your Voice Heard

Future Design Podcast #014 with Cynthia Zhai – Get Your Voice Heard

What do you do when you have a strong message that you want to share with the world but you don’t have the ability to project and make good use of your voice that it sounds convincing and captivating?

Cynthia Zhai, who’s a voice coach and TEDx speaker, shares her techniques to give your voice color and dynamism.

Hear her speak at TEDx Harker School https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcDerWSyccg

Guest: Cynthia Zhai (https://www.powerfulexecutivevoice.com/)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Host: Takatoshi Shibayama (https://www.linkedin.com/in/takatoshi-shibayama-9a7b022/)                                                                                                                                                                                      Music: ShowNing (https://www.showningdj.com/)

 

Transcript

Takatoshi Shibayama

I had a many guests before in my recordings whether it be storytelling or branding content creation and I think that the “voice”, how entrepreneurs, how business leaders, how politicians, or any type of leader of any sort that would go on to stage or speak in front of a lot of people would voice out, this is the final part of how people get their stories out into the world and I find that a lot of people don’t have the confidence to voice out and I think it’s not because they’re not confident about the subject matter because usually they know more about the subject than anybody else so it’s not easy to just say oh you don’t have confidence it’s not about thatSo what do you say to all your students or the people that you coach what it is that you need to have in terms of being able to stand confidently and voice out their message.

 

Cynthia Zhai

Yeah so the key is that they have to learn how to project their voice because like what you have said that most people especially in Asia and also my clients all over the world they have never been taught in schools or even when they’re in their career never been taught about how to protect their voices so they have been through all kinds of other training workshops but never something on voice. So then when they want to project their voice we’ll go through a few steps to help them change the way that they have been projecting their voice. So for most people the voice will be projecting from the so called the throat area and what I also call a head voice because it’s only using part of their their body and what we are working on the voice they don’t need to change to another person they don’t need to shout some of them that they have the misconception that if you want to protect the voice you have to shout you’ll have to speak so called with a loud voice that is the wrong perception and wrong conception so what I do with them is we change the way they protect him from the so called head to the body and in in this nature voice is vibration so we are actually helping them to increase more vibration so that they can speak with us a voice that’s audible that’s strong without shoulder

 

Takatoshi Shibayama

Yeah I remember when I did my public speaking course as well this is about – one year ago we always been taught that there’s a lot of negativity in yourself as you said, am I not good enough, am I going to make a mistake other people, are going to criticize me and there’s  also something  more psychological than that as thinking that maybe I done something in the past that I was laughed at or something that really shook me negatively that when I get on this stage subconsciously that comes out even with you don’t know but it’s actually coming out and saying or you start to get stage fright and I think that a lot of people do kind of have that experience as well because  there’s nobody who never made a mistake in their lives and  being  criticized or something. So some  they always told me you have to get rid of that piece by piece thinking about what are the things that are holding you back the negative beliefs about yourself and then to relieve that so that when you get on stage it’ll be much easier because you’re free from all that negativity.

Cynthia Zhai

Yeah so I think it’s not only just the past experiences that we had but also its human nature so as a human nature that we are afraid of being humiliated in front of public so it’s just being reflected in different ways in different individuals

Takatoshi Shibayama

Yeah and also let’s go to the mechanism of the voice so  I personally on a personal level when I speak to family members or friends or whoever they are I tend to have a very nasal voice and I can I  couldn’t really never get used to that or get rid of that and I have to purposely think about how whereas my voice coming out from is it kind of around here or is it from here or is it  from my chest and I had to really train myself to get that voice from here down all the way here so that I have a more fulfilling voice  a deeper voice  but a lot of times when you’re on stage you don’t really think about that you kind of forget about that as well and I definitely have myself as well because sometimes when you’re really into the talk you forget about where your voice is coming  from and you’re kind of like stuck in your head so what is the type of methods do you actually teach your students about projecting your voice ?

Cynthia Zhai

mm-hmm so that’s what we want to do is we want to make voice production coming from the body our habit so only when it becomes a habit then when you’re speaking you never need to think about oh boy where is my voice from so that’s what we want to do which is including for example for even a proper breathing we need to make proper breathing a habit. We need to make proper projection or habit. We need to make proper resonance some resonance coming from the body or habit so all these three steps they are learning and practicing they all need to become habit and is there something that we can do on a daily basis so that we could remind ourselves that our voice should be coming out from our bodies instead of our throats and nasal so what I always tell my clients is that when you’re practicing these steps you are going to separate your daily practice from your normal making voice because how the voice is going to be change is interesting  but also at the same time it’s surprising to a lot of people so when we are changing the voice production we are doing the exercises on a daily basis usually for my clients it takes about six months to make every step a habit. Breathing production and resonance and on a daily basis, they are doing exercises there are different levels of exercises along the way and when you do this exercises it is actually training your body training your body how to project how to be used and only when the body is trained man your daily voice will surprisingly be changed so some of not only to some of my clients but also to our modern human beings they are also surprised they said how could that happen if I don’t do anything in my daily voice how could that happen I said that’s how voice is happening you’re not paying attention to the result you are paying attention to the process which is training your body by doing these exercises then the result will come to you so it’s like we are planting a seed so we don’t plant the seed saying oh it’s not coming out it’s not coming out let me pull it out you got the result put up and out but the plant also died. Instead we are cleaning this plant we are giving it sunshine water and fertilizer to make it grow to create the environment and when the environment is there, they will grow by itself.

Takatoshi Shibayama

Can you take us through some of the teachings that you actually do to your customers or clients how they can incorporate this in their daily lives so what they are doing because it is step by step so we what we can do right now

Cynthia Zhai

Yes the first step which is breathing so breathing itself has three levels of breathing exercises and each level is moving you towards making proper breathing a habit so we can start with the first level of breathing exercise which is what I call cuckoo breathing commercial rated yes so comfy rating is we are pushing the stomach in on purpose so when you push the stomach in you should be breathing out so that’s the first thing people want to remember which is when you breathe out the belly goes in when you breathe in the body comes out which is the opposite to what most people aren’t doing so we are going to re-join your body between your diaphragm to make it work in the correct way and so that’s why in the beginning when we do the exercise we need to do it intentionally so what we do is we push the stomach in at the same time we’ll let the air come through the mouth and once you breathe out you don’t have air in the body anymore so your inhale the inhalation shall be automatic you see the belly comes up so which is like push the stomach in that diaphragm in and air goes out through the mouth pathways and then stomach will come back by itself because the  inhalation is natural and then you will need to continue with this process and this exercise you will need to do at least about two weeks .

Takatoshi Shibayama

Yeah a lot of people usually have very short breaths  they don’t think about breathing deeply especially when you’re in the office and  you’re stressed you’re  running against time or  your boss is telling you what to do I mean nobody’s really thinking about their breath they’re thinking about oh I have to do something so  then you have to be very consciously thinking about how to breathe all the time to be able to get to that normalize state where you can do that on a habitual basis and once we get there what is the second process.

Cynthia Zhai

So the second pause second step in the process is to use this proper breath for production the so called speak from the diaphragm but of course I always tell my clients and students I said there’s no such thing as speak from the diaphragm, the diaphragm is only supporting the breath so what we’re really doing is we are using this proper breath to support your voice projection and that’s the other step the second step that people learn because a lot of my clients for example some of them they used to be semi-professional singers so they would tell me they say Oh Cynthia I can so-called sing from the diaphragm or whenever I speak it comes back to the throat so a singing good singing voice will not be automatically translated to your speaking voice so we have to use learn how to use this proper breath to so call speak from the diaphragm.

Takatoshi Shibayama

I see and is there a next step to this and is it more of a practice based thing that you try to go out and to the public as much as you can and try to speak this or is there another step in between there

Cynthia Zhai

No so this is the second step but in this step again that people are going to separate their daily practice from their daily speaking voice so some of my clients they would  tell me they said oh when I went back I tried to use my breath, I try to push my stomach to us big in my daily voice and that is actually, going to slow down on your progress because everything we’re doing in the voice production process is to retrain your body and create an environment in your body to make the vibration come out easily and fully so I have to remind my clients over and over again that don’t bring these exercises into your daily speaking voice but you are going to make sure that every day you’re doing at least two times or practices each time at least five minutes so they have to do that and only when you’re doing that in your rate when your body when the body becoming open and relaxed then the sound comes out much easily and fully so that’s our the second step projection.

Takatoshi Shibayama

And the third step or how many steps are there in total

Cynthia Zhai

Three big steps and each step under each step of course they are so two to three steps so the third biggest step is we are going to generate more vibration in the body so now that this channel is being open and relaxed and it’s easy to protect the voice now they are begin to generate more vibration in the body because the voice is vibration so when they have more vibration in the body the voice becomes stronger by itself without them toning without them trying to use more effort because now you have more vibration means more sound so that’s the third step and when they do that the resonance they also find that their voice is much for a started to sit they shifted to the body becomes for it arms a deeper and yeah that’s the third step what third step can bring to them.

Takatoshi Shibayama

Right and is there a reason why we can’t practice this with our daily speaking activities

Cynthia Zhai

Yes so the reason is because what I have mentioned that every step we’re doing in the in the voice production process is to retrain the body it is like for example each step the first step breathing is like you need to loosen up the soil so in order to have the seed to grow and then the second step projection is like watering the plant now so when they have enough water they work work and the third step is like we need to give it sunshine so all this step is to create environment in your body so that the voice and the vibration can come out easily and fully right and so they they have to treat this process as planting a seed.

Takatoshi Shibayama

And also a way to speak as well so this a little bit diverges from the voice but I find some certain people can actually speak better than others  more engaging,  more convincingly and I find that this is a another technique that I fine to be very intriguing to obtain because one can speak in a very monotone kind of way and repeat one word after another and it becomes very dull in the end where some people use a lot of pauses and group sentences or phrases together so that each time they want to make a point they stop and then they say their point I think there’s so many different ways of speech that we also need to learn how to become a much more convincing speaker and do you have any methods that you can teach your clients about this?

Cynthia Zhai

Yes so just now the three steps we’re talking about breathing projection and resonance they are in the area of voice quality so voice quality like if people have a soft voice high-pitched voice or trembling voice when there are numbers so all the voice problems the majority of the voice problems can be solved when they work on the voice quality but there’s another big voice problem which has monotone it cannot is off by working on voice quality so they have to work on another area which would I call voice color voice colors so in voice colors they are not learning voice techniques they are not learning oh when do I use a higher pitch lower pitch stronger volume quiet volume no because I have a lot of times they we try to work on that and then as they started to try to work on that they realize oh I some very weird I sound  fake I don’t feel comfortable so I said if you don’t feel comfortable the audience will not feel comfortable so when we work on the voice  color we are working on the emotions it’s like colors so colors we have different colors blue, red yellow and even for each color we have different shades so for example for blue we have light blue dark blue all kinds of blue ocean blue so it’s the same for emotion when we have happiness sadness anger even for anger we have frustration we have all kinds of different levels of anger and same for happiness sadness so we have to work on how to feel the appropriate emotion when there’s when we’re speaking and one of the examples I use often is was very was being mentioned a lot nowadays  is a speech by Martin Luther King so Martin Luther King nowadays is these few weeks have has been mentioned even more times so his speech I have a dream so he didn’t say I’ve been doing one day  blah blah blah I have a dream come and fight with me so if he spoke in that way no one would fight with him because he didn’t have emotion but instead that speech if  that speech was an  impromptu speech so he didn’t prepare that speech he had a script but somehow he started to sense the audience and he decided to give up on that first speech he prepared so he gave an impromptu speech and in that speech we can see the emotion I have a dream so when we work on the boys color we have to work on the emotion

Takatoshi Shibayama

A lot of people talk about authenticity quite a lot and everybody says you’ve got to be authentic, authentic but sometimes  that that word is sometimes empty if you actually don’t know how to do that right because it’s not about maybe that’s contradictory because being authentic and acting it out is very different but  when you’re actually sitting or standing in front of people you do need to emphasize a little bit of more of your feelings right whether you’re angry or you’re happy you have to put in more color as you say so that it becomes fuller and people can actually feel it even more because sometimes when you’re happy maybe you think you’re happy but maybe that’s not really projecting out to other people so you have to expand a little bit of your emotion as well so it is there a way to give that more color more vivid colors so that people can actually see it

Cynthia Zhai

Yes  so it is they called a mistake there’s some of my car they said oh I already expressed my emotion but it was not obvious at all so that’s why I asked  my client to record their practice so that they will see number one oh I am not really expressing enough not obvious so number two in order to be offended we are also not exaggerating the emotion we are developing you as a person to be more expressive so especially nowadays we are putting so much emphasis on analytical skills on our logic skills but we’re not putting enough emphasis on expressing the appropriate emotion so what I do with my clients is we are exploring how to make them become more authentically expressive so when they become more authentic ly expressive then their emotion will be more obvious

Takatoshi Shibayama

Yeah I hear quite a lot that if you’re not it’s you think that people actually respond to logic but people make decisions based on emotions all the time and one of the guest speakers that I had was talking about how  one person has lost the ability to feel and he thought that okay then this person is working on logic so he’ll be able to make choices very logically every day but the result was he wasn’t able to make any choices at all and and ultimately it was the emotions that actually drive people to make decisions to make  the the conscious decision about what they want and want to get out of  the speaker so is  there it’s easy to say show emotions show emotion but  a lot of people quite not understand it quite well or they think they do but it’s it’s hard to bring it out of them so the do I kind of think that you need a  little bit of acting skills in that sense so that you can project it much better do you have a different opinion about that.

Cynthia Zhai

um the truth is as a human being we are already experiencing different emotions it’s just that most people have not paid attention to and/or they are they are not so in bed even though they had that emotion for example there are people they are angry but they know anger it’s not good by art by our educational systems and so they are actually suppressing it but these suppressed anger these suppressed emotions they’re not going anywhere they’re all ticking bombs in the body so we have to appropriately express it so what I do with my clients is to we practice different emotions so we even have a will of the emotions so in that we’ll of emotions you can see that all different types of emotions so we start to experience and explore the emotion that comes easiest to them for example sometimes maybe is anger comes the easiest then we practice that and then from there we started to expand the range of emotions so that they started to explore different emotions and we have already having that experience of emotion in our past so we actually go back to some of our past events to bring back that emotion and relive it

Takatoshi Shibayama

During this protest times in the US, I’ve seen so many videos of people standing in front talking about how oppressed their lives are and how they’re trying to fight back and I find it very emotional watching this because they have so much emotion on what they’re saying and I know it’s authentic it really comes it comes it out because they’re really living in that moment and trying to voice out their concerns about their lives and  I wish that I could always speak like that to be honest but this is this these protests and these speeches are coming out from really strong emotions that they’re being so victimized in their in their lives so they need to express that anger and sadness but  let’s say you’re a business leader and you’re talking about our certain or you’re talking about a certain idea that you want to share  with other people  the depth of emotion is not quite the same as the type of  people who are out there protesting for their lives so how do you nurture that kind of emotions in your everyday life so that it can come out whenever you really want it to come out?

Cynthia Zhai

So one of it is also like the voice quality practice so expressing appropriate authentic emotions our purpose is also to make it a habit so in order to make it a habit we have to do some practices every day and one of the things I asked my clients to do is they can practice the one-liners on the commercials advertisement because we know that one line in commercials it is very powerful because it conveys three things number one it needs to convey a message and number two that it has to convey certain emotion because without emotion then we don’t know how this brand is different from all the others so sometimes I will pick up any magazine in my office and most of the times you will see the magazines for the first few pages is or watches and there are so many brands of watches then which brand are you if you are going to buy which brand are you going to buy it depends on the emotion it is conveying so that’s the second thing that a one-liner will convey emotion and the third one of course that if that emotion is resonating with you then you’re going to do the third thing which is to if you have money you will buy that brand instead of the other brand so that’s why practicing this one-liners will help you to express the emotion.

Takatoshi Shibayama

Right and I find that these techniques are very useful because I think I can use this over and over in different occasions I do quite a lot of key note speeches and panel discussions and of course I’m doing this podcast as well and I do wonder if I’m really being emotional enough am I humorous enough obviously I’m not but  I feel I tend to feel like I’m pretty serious when I’m doing all these things but I do feel like I need to practice on these emotions a lot more because  as we go as I go through this life of public speaking it’s important that I do grasp this concept of being able to show real authentic emotions with a little bit of practice and people who are also embarking on this journey as well  they would probably would like to know more about what you’re coaching people so is there a way for people to reach out to you and know more about what your methods are

Cynthai Zhai

Sure so there are two places they can go one is my Youtube channel so we are going to hit 40k subscribers very soon and on that channel I have more than 130 videos so each video is addressing their one of their voice problems and give them some suggestions and they can just go to Youtube and search Sunday a voice coach they will be able to find a channel and the other one is if they want to learn with the step-by-step system to be more to be more clear about what the steps are what they can do in order to develop a powerful voice they can download the three-part free video lessons that I made for them they can go to my website and they will find that form for them to download on the home page and my website is powerfulexecutivevoice.com

Takatoshi Shibayama

Thank you very much for your talk and it was very useful for me to really practice a lot more on how to speak and I’m sure the listeners also are really interested about learning about  learning better ways of speaking so thank you very much for your time and insights.

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