I was at a networking breakfast last week where, as you do, I was giving my elevator pitch and starting conversations with strangers. This morning, in particular, I noted how many people associate voice production with “good” posture. I can see the connection of course. We are instructed from an early age to use good posture usually defined as a straightened spine, with head and shoulders back. As we get older we encounter the concept of posture as being good for presentation and voice use. I don’t know that many of us actually get a good definition of what posture is and how to achieve it. I offer this definition from the Google Dictionary. Posture is the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.
The problem with this definition is its accuracy. People are holding their bodies in positions but good posture for voice use is something different. It is an active state, a state of readiness for activity and movement. For this reason, I prefer to use, Poise.
Poise is a state of balance and equilibrium
The human body is such an unlikely structure. The heaviest single element (the head) is on top. The skeleton looks unlikely to be able to hold itself up as it extends to extremities, onto which are built muscular structures that could complicate matters further. But the body does not work as a set of parts, it is a complex whole working collectively and it is designed for motion. The human form is at its most powerful when in the state of activity. “Good” posture while coveted by society seeks stillness but stillness is not our natural state.
So ask yourself these questions. Is your body in alignment? Can you feel the connection of your feet to the ground? Are your shoulder blades active but not locked? Are you breathing? If the answer to any of these is no then you are not poised for your best voice use.
Luckily the solution is as simple and taking a moment to engage with your breath and your body. This may mean taking a private moment with your sensation or seeking out help in a class or coaching individually. My favorite modalities for learning poise are dance classes, circus classes, yoga, and Fitzmaurice Voicework as a class or individual pursuit.
So, what are your habits around posture? I’d love to hear from you either in comments here or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.