I am currently on the Cape trying to breathe in what remains of Summer. One of the things you notice as you beach hop here is the big signs on beaches where Great White Sharks are known to hunt. It can give you some pause as you head in.
Actually, there are people enjoying the beach from as far as possible, others who never wade in past their ankles, and those who are swimming and having a great time in the surf. It got me thinking.
Speaking and singing are like this for people. For some, there is no way they are getting in past their ankles. And there may be a real danger. For example, there ARE sharks out there, it’s the ocean after all. There IS some potential for disaster when you are presenting. You may say something wrong, trip and spill coffee, and end up electrocuting your client. But it isn’t likely. You may get up to sing and fall in the orchestra pit — really unlikely.
The fact is that everything worth doing has a risk associated with it, some of them just seem more terrifying. In speaking, just like enjoying the ocean, the likelihood that this danger will visit you is not all that big. Importantly, it is circumstantial.
There is more risk in trying to swim or surf by the seals than in swimming elsewhere. There is more risk in a high-stakes presentation or performance than in a weekly team meeting or performance class. And just like there is actually a helpful list of shark behaviors and tendencies that can reduce your danger to negligible. There are also techniques you can employ to empower your voice use.
Ultimately, it isn’t about whether the task ahead is “great white shark” scary. It is about whether you will equip yourself with the tools to get in the water anyway.
Gina Razón is the principal voice specialist at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service voice and speech studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over 16 years of experience both as a teacher of voice and speech, and a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.