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How Can Online Speakers Use Posture & Gestures Effectively?
Episode 823rd August 2022 • Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking • Kirsten Rourke
00:00:00 00:15:20

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In Episode 8 of Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking, Kirsten talks about the connection between body position, gestures, and your voice. It’s important even when, especially when, you’re presenting or speaking online and your audience might not be able to see you.

When Kirsten demonstrates the difference in posture and how to locate & tighten your diaphragm, you can hear the change in her voice quality.

Key take-aways:

  • How are posture and gestures connected to your voice?
  • How is your diaphragm like a trampoline?
  • Can you hear the difference?

Join our Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking Skills group on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/14104216/


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Read a transcript of this episode: https://share.descript.com/view/4lgGBIagp5e

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirstenrourke/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirstenmalenarourke

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Transcripts

Kirsten:

Welcome to Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking.

Kirsten:

It's a podcast and a community.

Kirsten:

I'm Kirsten Rourke, speaker, presenter, and founder of Rourke Training.

Kirsten:

And this is Kellie.

Kellie:

Hey there, I'm Kellie, producer, writer, and herder of cats.

Kirsten:

Oh, so many cats.

Kirsten:

After over 20 years of speaker and presenter, I've seen it all,

Kirsten:

and I'm sharing it with you.

Kirsten:

Ongoing mastery is about continual improvement of your craft.

Kirsten:

You'll learn tips and hear from industry leaders.

Kirsten:

I'll tell you straight up what works and what doesn't, so you can thrive.

Kirsten:

Let's get started.

Kirsten:

Welcome to episode number eight.

Kirsten:

In this episode, we're going to talk about posture and gestures.

Kellie:

Kirsten, how are we going to talk about posture and

Kellie:

gesture in an audio-only format?

Kirsten:

We actually have to talk about posture and gestures

Kirsten:

because it's an audio-only format.

Kellie:

Please explain.

Kirsten:

I want you guys to listen to my voice.

Kirsten:

What I'm going to do in a minute is, I'm going to start from really bad posture.

Kirsten:

I'm sitting back.

Kirsten:

My chest is collapsed.

Kirsten:

My hands are down.

Kirsten:

I want you to see if you can determine without my changing the voice

Kirsten:

that I'm using, if you can tell at what point I lifted up and started

Kirsten:

gesturing with my hands to get more of a dynamic vocal performance.

Kirsten:

Can you tell at which point I sat up and have more use of my diaphragm, more use

Kirsten:

of range in my voice, more expression?

Kirsten:

Your posture and the ability to gesture while you're talking matters.

Kirsten:

It changes your voice.

Kellie:

So how can people figure out where the tension needs to come

Kellie:

from to produce that dynamic range?

Kirsten:

So, a couple of different ways.

Kirsten:

First, let's talk about your diaphragm.

Kirsten:

What you're going to be doing is using the power of your stomach to be able

Kirsten:

to drive the power of your voice.

Kirsten:

Now, in order to do this, if you're not used to it, take one hand and put it just

Kirsten:

below your belly button, and one hand on the small of your back, if you can.

Kirsten:

And then, taking a look at the back of the room, try talking and pressing

Kirsten:

in with your hand on your stomach and hear what it does to your voice.

Kirsten:

Now, try doing that without your hand and feel the power that you can do when

Kirsten:

you're using your stomach, when you're using your diaphragm and your torso

Kirsten:

muscles to power your voice forward.

Kellie:

Because your diaphragm is a springboard.

Kellie:

It's a trampoline.

Kellie:

Your voice bounces up and out and comes out of your mouth, without you

Kellie:

raising your voice to shout at people.

Kirsten:

Because what you don't want to be doing is, in your throat, just

Kirsten:

making your volume high, which I will not do on this audio recording,

Kellie:

thank you

Kirsten:

but just making it loud at people.

Kirsten:

What you want is you want the power.

Kirsten:

You don't want the screech.

Kellie:

The screech often comes, might call it chest voice.

Kellie:

It comes from a shallow breath and that's partly why it sounds a little desperate.

Kirsten:

And especially in high chest, in your throat, if that's where you're

Kirsten:

centered of your voice, you need to practice moving it down further in your

Kirsten:

body and using your body as an instrument, because this is your instrument.

Kirsten:

This is the tool you get to do vocal performance.

Kirsten:

And you need to use your hands.

Kirsten:

If you can gesture, do it.

Kirsten:

Even if people can't see you, they can still tell that you're using your

Kirsten:

body when you're talking, because it's important to have dynamic range.

Kellie:

And when you open your arms outward, you also expand your lungs

Kellie:

outward, your rib cage outward.

Kellie:

It changes what happens to your voice.

Kellie:

If you are holding your arms right in front of your body, your

Kellie:

shoulders, your rib cage are in.

Kellie:

Your voice doesn't go as far.

Kirsten:

So you really need to be able to use your full lung capacity.

Kirsten:

Use your body's power.

Kirsten:

Ideally, if you're on camera and you're doing gestures, you can actually turn

Kirsten:

just slightly, not your head, you should still be looking at the camera,

Kirsten:

but just turn your torso a little tiny bit, maybe 10 degrees to the side, and

Kirsten:

gesture off to the side if you want them to see your hands doing a specific

Kirsten:

thing, such as "1, 2, 3, now we'll do X."

Kirsten:

If you're doing that right in front of yourself, you're more collapsed.

Kirsten:

It's also harder to see, gesturing off to the side.

Kirsten:

Thank you, Bobbie from Innovation Women, for reminding me of this wonderful tip.

Kirsten:

So we had that in an interview and I want to bring that back here.

Kirsten:

Gesturing off to the side gives you an ability to, on camera,

Kirsten:

have your gesture seen clearly.

Kirsten:

What is the problem with doing gestures?

Kellie:

Gestures can be culturally specific and you can

Kellie:

be unintentionally very offensive if you're not aware of that.

Kirsten:

So, if you are gesturing and you accidentally are using your middle finger

Kirsten:

and have that highest, in some cultures, you are flipping people the bird.

Kirsten:

But if you have two fingers and you are gesturing, you are also in some

Kirsten:

cultures flipping people the bird.

Kirsten:

It really matters.

Kirsten:

And if you're going to be doing gestures that are not just movements in space,

Kirsten:

but are specific, identifiable shapes, you do have to Google whether or not

Kirsten:

certain hand gestures mean certain things, so you don't offend people.

Kellie:

And you never want to be the punchline of a joke you're not even

Kellie:

aware that you made, with your audience giggling because you've done something

Kellie:

and you don't know what it was.

Kirsten:

As an example, I used to hang out with somebody who taught

Kirsten:

me just enough sign language that we could go to clubs and I could

Kirsten:

gesture and say, "I want a drink."

Kirsten:

And he would be able to go get me a drink.

Kirsten:

And he explained that, at one point when he was learning sign

Kirsten:

language, he thought what he was doing was a perfectly valid thing.

Kirsten:

And he'd made the symbol of a triangle with his hands, and

Kirsten:

then he turned the point down.

Kirsten:

And everyone in the room was laughing because that's

Kirsten:

actually the symbol for vagina.

Kirsten:

He had not intended to be communicating that, but that's what the sign was.

Kirsten:

So you do have to think in terms of your gesture.

Kellie:

I learned this the hard way.

Kellie:

I am often holding a coffee cup full of tea, and I am gesturing

Kellie:

with that hand, maybe because I am using the mouse with my other hand.

Kellie:

And I am stabilizing the cup with my index finger and my pinky

Kellie:

finger, kind of top and bottom.

Kellie:

So I am then gesturing with my middle finger and that's unfortunate.

Kirsten:

Now I've had this happen where I was in a dance troop, Near and

Kirsten:

Middle Eastern dance, for 25 years.

Kirsten:

And more than once, early on, my dance teacher, Nancy had to say, "Um, you need

Kirsten:

to look at what your hand is doing right now," because it would form a claw and it

Kirsten:

was communicating a completely different message and energy than what I intended.

Kirsten:

So you really need to think about what your body's doing, which means

Kirsten:

you need to look at yourself perform.

Kirsten:

I'm sorry, you do.

Kirsten:

If you've got a mirror where you're living, you've got to look in the mirror.

Kellie:

If you've got a smartphone, put it on selfie mode, take a video.

Kirsten:

And no one has to see that video.

Kirsten:

You can delete it after, but you've got to watch yourself perform and

Kirsten:

you've got to watch your face.

Kirsten:

Now when we're evaluating people, we will have them record themselves,

Kirsten:

and we go through three passes.

Kirsten:

We have them listen to themselves.

Kirsten:

We have them just watch themselves.

Kirsten:

And then we have them do both.

Kirsten:

The just watching themselves is really educational because people don't always

Kirsten:

realize what they're communicating because they're focused on the whole performance.

Kirsten:

When you turn the audio off and you're just watching the body,

Kirsten:

sometimes you see things you didn't intend to be communicating.

Kellie:

Some people communicate by scrunching up their nose

Kellie:

because they think they look more emphatic, but they also look like

Kellie:

they've smelled a rotten egg.

Kirsten:

Yeah.

Kirsten:

A lot of it is just, "Oh, that's an unfortunate look."

Kirsten:

So you need to see those things so that you don't do them with folks,

Kirsten:

and you don't do them in settings where what you're trying to do is get

Kirsten:

across the best possible performance.

Kirsten:

Now, Kellie, I've been doing this work for a couple of decades.

Kirsten:

So that means I don't need to practice anymore, right?

Kellie:

Wrong, totally wrong.

Kellie:

We have practiced this very episode multiple times to make

Kellie:

sure we're communicating what we're trying to say in this audio-only

Kellie:

format about posture and gesture.

Kirsten:

Unfortunately, you can't get away from practice.

Kirsten:

I know you don't want to.

Kirsten:

I don't either.

Kirsten:

But we have to.

Kirsten:

That's the work.

Kirsten:

When you're doing presenting and speaking, it is an art.

Kirsten:

It is a science.

Kirsten:

It requires practice.

Kirsten:

And you are always on the mission of ongoing mastery, which means

Kirsten:

if you absolutely suck eggs, that's one moment in time.

Kirsten:

You are now moving forward.

Kirsten:

You will be better next time.

Kirsten:

You will always be able to improve.

Kirsten:

You're never done.

Kirsten:

So you've never failed.

Kirsten:

You might have moments that you go, "Oh God," but they're moments.

Kirsten:

You're always moving forward.

Kirsten:

And in that, I'm going to ask you to throw in the show notes, "Always Moving

Kirsten:

Forward," which is from a wonderful movie, called Meet the Robinsons.

Kirsten:

And if you guys haven't seen that, that is your official homework for

Kirsten:

this podcast is to go watch Meet the Robinsons, because it's awesome.

Kirsten:

And it's got a dinosaur in it with a bowler hat.

Kirsten:

I mean, you got

Kellie:

What's not to love?

Kirsten:

What's not to love about a dinosaur with a bowler hat?

Kirsten:

So, posture, gestures, facial expression.

Kirsten:

One of the things that's not obvious about this work is that

Kirsten:

the position of your tongue in your mouth changes the way your voice is.

Kirsten:

The way you use your jaw changes the way your language is heard.

Kirsten:

It really helps if you start following people that do voice work for a living.

Kirsten:

Ideally, VO actors or actors who are doing VO work will really give you a

Kirsten:

sense of what it takes to get across the right vocal performance, because

Kirsten:

all of it, your eyes, your nose, your mouth, the tongue position, your

Kirsten:

shoulders, your torso, everything, all of this contributes to the communication

Kirsten:

that you're making with other humans.

Kirsten:

You've got to use your instrument to be able to do the best communication

Kirsten:

because your goal is to connect with them or to convince them or to inspire them.

Kirsten:

You have to use your instrument to do that.

Kirsten:

And, now that we're wrapping up, I think it's the time to mention Alan Tudyk,

Kellie:

who does tremendous voiceover work for a lot of animated films.

Kirsten:

And if you guys have, oh, ever heard of Mark Hamill, yes, he

Kirsten:

is Luke Skywalker, but his Joker is hella terrifying and funny.

Kirsten:

It's really good.

Kellie:

Robin Williams as the Genie, in Disney's Aladdin.

Kellie:

One of the hallmarks of great voice actors is that they do the recording first and

Kellie:

then often the animation follows, so that the animation of the face mimics

Kellie:

what the person has done in order to produce the voice that you're hearing.

Kirsten:

Yes, and on that, it is true that earlier Disney movies, like Aladdin

Kirsten:

and like others, haven't aged well.

Kirsten:

Robin Williams was a genius and that movie was awesome, yes.

Kirsten:

If you're showing that stuff to your kids now, there will be moments

Kirsten:

in there that you will probably wince and go, "Oh, that wasn't ok."

Kellie:

There are some regretable stereotypes.

Kirsten:

There are, but we're just talking about vocal performance.

Kirsten:

And while we're on Robin Williams, um, Robin Williams, I think it was

Kirsten:

New York stage performance, talking about golf is really worth watching.

Kirsten:

So we'll throw that in the show notes.

Kirsten:

It is not safe for work.

Kirsten:

Do not play it at work, but you've got to listen to it, because it's damn funny.

Kirsten:

Find people that do the kind of vocal work that inspires you and listen to

Kirsten:

what it is that they're communicating.

Kirsten:

That's I think the point of today.

Kellie:

Yeah.

Kirsten:

So in our, as we always say, LinkedIn group Ongoing

Mastery:

Presenting & Speaking

Kellie:

link is in the show notes

Kirsten:

go in, tell us who you really love their voiceover work.

Kirsten:

What actor or what VO artist have you been listening to?

Kirsten:

Do you listen to audio books?

Kirsten:

Who was the audio book person that's recording it that you really enjoy?

Kirsten:

Share with us and we'll see you next time.

Kellie:

Cheers.

Kirsten:

Thank you for joining us for Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking,

Kirsten:

the podcast for everyone who wants to work on their own skills and lift up others.

Kirsten:

If you enjoyed this episode, continue the conversation on our

Kirsten:

Ongoing Mastery LinkedIn group.

Kirsten:

The link is in the show notes.

Kirsten:

Share the love on social media and tell your friends about the podcast.

Kirsten:

Be sure to catch our next episode

Kellie:

and hit the subscribe button.

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