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Naming Rights

I was chatting with a friend this morning about a pair of speakers she heard recently. Both had less than common, potentially hard to pronounce names. One of these women, acknowledged the difficulty and broke it down for the audience leaving everyone clear and empowered on how to address her. The other woman, rushed through requiring my friend to later look her up to get her name right. Importantly, both speakers were effective but only one succeeded in getting her name into the room.

Names have power. On a simple level, it is literally how we can associate your ideas and identity back to you. On a deeper level it is how we embody ourselves and direct our authority in the room.

I get it, not everyone loves their name. There can be a lot of baggage in that series of sounds. I have a real, heartfelt suggestion for you if your name is a source of mild or major disturbance — Accept it fully or change it legally. I don’t believe you can be noncommittal when it comes to your name and how you introduce it to others and still command a room.

Assuming you are committed to the name you have, you will still have to practice enunciating that name clearly, moderately (in speed), and with sufficient volume. If you have a harder to pronounce name you may need to give your audiences a helpful rubric for saying it properly. And, yes, you might need to test it to make sure it both serves its purpose and feels like you.

Name Homework

  1. Define yourself who you are and how you would like to be perceived in the room. That is now the definition of your name in the dictionary. This can be extended or direct. For example, my definition of Gina Razón is knowledgable, trustworthy, and effective. I could also get granular on that definition.
  2. Get to a mirror (I know, I know but it works). Say your name with your definition in mind. Watch your mouth and make sure it is moving through the sounds with care.
  3. Test it. Use recordings to make sure your pronunciation is where you want it to be and that it feels to you like your definition is in the words. Work on your pronunciation rubric if you need one.
  4. Take it out for a spin. Try it in your inner circle. Get feedback from people who you both know and trust. And, try it out at work.

It seems like a little thing but, if you don’t take your name seriously and give it weight it deserves, why should anyone else?

Gina Razón is the Founder and CEO at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service verbal communication studio in downtown Boston.  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 and more recently as a professional public speaker.  For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit

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