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Articulate: Speaking in Code

I’ll admit this wasn’t the topic I was originally going to discuss today.

I posted a “Floodgates Open” video (I’ll define this in a bit) yesterday. My husband mentioned that he had never heard me use so many spacers (like, and, so). He wondered whether I should re-record it given what I do. My answer, no.

So, this is where I speak about the different language codes we use and how some of them manifest. I think most of us are familiar with the concept of code-switching. If not, see this.

We all have different ways in which we engage with spoken language that is specific to our audience and our availability. Some of us have several different pathways for speech, be it deliberate or not. There are also people, including several I know and respect, who rarely code switch. They are decided on a presentational language, have cultivated it, and speak only that way. That absolutely works. It is not how I operate.

The way our voices present in public are, at their best, a representation of who we are, and how much of ourselves we are willing to share. So I have a hierarchy of ways I speak.

My most common: Stage, Training, Conversational Work, Conversational Play (Washington Heights, Boulder, and Boston editions), and Floodgates Open.

I can get into how I structure these further sometime if people are interested. But I want to discuss Floodgates Open.

When my purpose is to connect human to human, with subvocal characteristics as or more present than vocal characteristics, I apply no censor to my language. This means that I don’t know exactly what I’m going to get. Any of my linguistic personalities can arrive at the party, I am working without a script, and any of my true emotions can flood through. I have never recorded in Floodgates Open before yesterday but given the class that I was describing (it requires epic vulnerability), I found it appropriate.

I am certain that someone on the Internet will see free to criticize me for it — I simply do not care. I choose to live my life and deploy my voice from a place of True. That choice is not always pretty, but I voice to communicate not for appearance’s sake.

If you are curious here is the video, and if you know someone who would love this non-traditional class, send them my way.

GROW Voice has new fortnightly newsletter. The Voice Lab has tips and tidbits about voicing and I think it is going to be great. Check out the latest edition here and subscribe here.

Gina Razón is the Founder and CEO at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service verbal communication studio in Boston’s Back Bay.  She has over two decades of experience as a teacher of voice and speech, is a communication and change facilitator, and is 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

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