Women's voices have routinely been silenced, criticized and diminished in the workplace due to sexism.
How can we use our voice and speak with confidence, so we can be most effective in self-advocacy?
To answer this question, I interviewed my colleague Emily Jeanne Brown of OnVoice Coaching and Consulting.
In this episode you'll learn:
Featured in this episode:
As a coach for women, I'm super passionate about helping smart women who hate office politics get promoted and better paid.
I do this through my unique combination of:
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Jamie Lee 0:00
Welcome to negotiate your career growth. I'm Jamie Lee and I teach you how to blend the best of negotiation strategies with feminist coaching. So you get promoted and better paid without burning bridges or burning out in the process. Let's get started.
I'm so excited to have on the podcast, my colleague and fellow Smith alum, Emily Jean Brown. Emily Jean Brown is also a Smith College partner, Coach Emily Jean. And do you like to go by Emily, Jean or Emily? It's just me.
Emily Jeanne Brown 0:33
I usually go by Emily. Yeah. Okay.
Jamie Lee 0:35
Emily and I, both partner with Smith colleges Office of Alumni Relations, we're associated we partner with the Smith business network. And we collaborated on presenting a workshop on confident networking, the most recent reunion, reunion 2023. And it was so much fun. And I wanted to, you know, have Emily on the podcast to share her brilliance her genius about how to use your voice, how to use embody voice and Emily's going to tell us more about what that actually means and how that can look like, so that we as women can be more effective in advocating for ourselves and being leaders in our fields. So Emily, welcome to the podcast.
Emily Jeanne Brown 1:28
Thank you so much, Jamie, I'm really excited to be here with you. Yay.
Jamie Lee 1:32
Yay. I'm gonna read your bio. Emily. Jean Brown is an actor, musician and body voice coach and the founder of on voice coaching and consulting. She draws from breathwork Somatic Experiencing classical voice and after training. Emily, what do you not do? I said, Yeah.
Emily Jeanne Brown 1:56
I don't do I don't do math or engineering, or finance. Although I guess I do finance because you know, I'm an I'm an entrepreneur. So I have my own, you know, my own financial situation that I have to cover for?
Jamie Lee 2:09
Yeah. So Emily supports visionary leaders to cultivate authority and to speak with confidence by getting out of their heads and into their bodies. Love that. Through envoys, Emily has mentored engineers, consultants, people who do math, yes. Politicians, entrepreneurs, creatives, educators, executives on resource in their personal power to unleash their most authentic, impactful voice and create real change through their work. I love that. So tell us a little bit more. Tell us a little bit more about, you know, maybe you could define voice, like how do you define voice exactly, and what that entails?
Emily Jeanne Brown 2:59
Yeah, so of course, there's the sort of literal definition of voice that we think of which is the the physiological mechanism of the human voice, right. So that involves breath, and resonance. And then when we're communicating a message, usually language as well, right. But you can also take away the language piece and think of just the raw materials that make up our ability to create sound, right, we have this body and we have all these different cavities where resonance is created in the body. So there's sort of the more raw, unfiltered voice that just allows us to breathe, create sound. But then beyond the physiological piece, I define voice also around presence around, you know, what we bring into a room because as we know, a majority of how we interpret a message from someone speaking to us is not simply through our words, but it's also through our behavior, our presence, how we're showing up the color that we're including, and in our voice. So it's the physiological piece, the presence piece, sort of our energy, what we walk into the room with. And then the other piece that I would say is that voice involves really, you know, where we're coming from at the core as human beings. You know, why we're there, why we're showing up what the message is rooted in for us. And for me, that really comes down to figuring out how we can align with our values and our why that becomes really the sort of centering principle of, of how we share our voice, that we can be aligned in our message.
Jamie Lee 4:53
So it's like I'm thinking about like a concentric circle between our physical voice the you know, the Homer the tone of our raw voice, and presence that we bring by, almost like, what I'm thinking about is a funny analogy, which is almost like Bo, you know, bodybuilders like no one, no one can like point the finger and like say that is it, but you can smell it, you can sense it you it's almost like a visceral experience that you have when you come in contact with it. And so it's like, are we being grounded in our personal values, as you said, Are we are we sort of bringing that sense of self confidence, maybe, you know, like, believe conviction, right, which is all, which is everything that contributes to you being able to speak with a confident voice,
Emily Jeanne Brown 5:48
right. And that's why it's, it's when I talk about voice, in my practice, it's embodied voice. And that's what I mean when I say embodied because it involves the body literally, and awareness of the voice moving through the body, that being the foundation for the voice to come through. But also the definition of embodied, like what you reflected so beautifully, which is like our essence, our presence rooted in those values. And I think the bo thing, as funny as that is, is a perfect analogy, I used to have an acting coach who would say he coached me on my grad school auditions. And one of his tips in those auditions was, you know, go in there and stink up the room, right? Like, like, go in there. I think that's what he said, like go into the room and know that the way you enter the room, like when you leave that room after the audition, you want those auditioners to still smell you or, or in an in a less gross way to say it to still feel like what you brought energetically into the room. Right? So and that was a way also to kind of empower his coaching clients to really know like we have, we have agency, we have autonomy, we have a choice about how we inhabit these spaces, when we're being asked to do the important work of our lives, that we get to take up space, and really make an impact with our presence. Yeah, and that really takes a lot of the pressure off to I love
Jamie Lee 7:19
that. Think of the room. I want to. I want to hear more about that. But before we go there, I'm really curious, tell us about the journey that you went on from being a classically trained voice. And you have eclipsed classical voice and actor training. So does that mean that you were a singer? Yes. Okay, so I want to hear about your journey from being a classically trained singer and actor to an embodied voice coach, what was that journey? Like?
Emily Jeanne Brown 7:51
Yeah, so I, it's, it's cool that you mentioned the singer piece too, because really, what brought me to acting was my love of singing. So it all comes back to the human voice for me. And it continues to through my work in my coaching and in my professional performing career as well, which is still active. So I've loved to perform since I was a little kid. I used to, you know, sing Disney songs in the backyard and put on little plays for my parents and wrote my sister into it and, and so I love that from a very young age, and I got involved in school plays and plays in the community and did some musicals in high school, I did a musical at the junior college while I was still in high school, that was a really kind of profound experience for me really showed me that it was something I wanted to pursue professionally at that time. And at Smith I majored in theater, but I did make the decision to go to a school like Smith, which is a liberal arts college. So I didn't pursue like a BFA, which is more of a conservatory style training for acting. I did study abroad in London, and that was my one little taste of like, what it is like to sort of go in and, and train your instrument as an actor every single day and just focus on that, and I loved it. So after college, I got to New York, I just dove into, you know, the auditioning, seen as a young 22 year old actor, and started to book some work started to work regionally around the country and various theaters. But I did feel a little bit like I was kind of like running on pure passion, and an instinct, which was powerful, but I felt a little unsupported. When I would go in and do auditions, I kind of felt like I would just sort of black out and sort of like push through and just rely on my raw talent and kind of just like hope for the best you know. And so that was really eventually what led me to want to go back to grad school to really get an in depth actor training. And that's where I met my teacher Jeff Crockett who's a very powerful, fantastic mentor of mine. He has a practice. Now, his website, I think, is voice embodiment.com. But a lot of the material of my coaching and the techniques that I use with clients around the embodied voice and breath came from Jeff, really, he was kind of like a big, a big influence on that for me. And so he was the head of one of the heads of the voice department at my grad school. But we spent the whole first year of my three year program, hardly even making any sound in his class, most of what we would do in his class was breath exercises, and very subtle sort of somatic body based exercises. And I found that at first a little confusing, because I was like, Wait, this is supposed to be a voice class. But what I eventually learned once we did start to bring resonance into it, and once we did start to bring language into it was that voice is as much about what we encounter in the silence, it's as much about like, the container that it fills up, as it is about the sound itself, or as it is about the message itself. So in other words, right
Jamie Lee 11:09
there, yeah, that is so profound, that is so profound, what you just said, because, you know, like, folks who are listening to this, they might be thinking about, like, how do I, you know, how do I speak up? How do I get her? Right, right. And we have a tendency, I know, I have, I used to have a tendency to, like, sort of fix him. What do I say? What are the words? Right? What you just said was based on your, you know, real actor training? Is that actually the, the container? In other words, who we are being is so much more important than just the words?
Emily Jeanne Brown 11:42
Yep, that's exactly right. Yeah.
Jamie Lee 11:44
So good. Okay, so I interrupted you. So no more, I want to hear how that led to you becoming an embodied voice coach.
Emily Jeanne Brown 11:52
Totally. So I, so you said it so beautifully. I was just gonna say like, in other words, you know, that container is really about developing awareness of our choice about how we're showing up that we don't, you know, we have agency, they're developing real sensitivity and self inquiry, being able to be curious about what's going on for us internally, and then being curious about how we want to fill the space, and developing presence and understanding how our presence impact the way our message is going to be received. And so, you know, all of that was being specifically taught as a way to empower actors, performing artists, working to tell stories as truthfully as possible with a scene partner on stage, right. But if you if I just had said, what all the things I just said, without you knowing it was about acting, I mean, these are really tools for living, these are human human tools, these are tools for, you know, how to how to be more human, and also how to be more impactfully human through our the way we show up and the way we communicate. And so, you know, even during my grad school training, before I ever became a coach, I sort of realized that, that these were tools that could be applied to a lot of different situations, including leadership and communication work. And so a few years later, after I had come back to New York City, I had been toying with the idea of starting a coaching business, but I still wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to focus on. And then once the pandemic set in really kind of early in quarantine, suddenly, all my auditions were gone, and you know, performing opportunities were gone. So it felt like the perfect time to really kind of dig in and kind of practice some of that self inquiry about like, what do I want this to be? And that was how on voice was born, because especially in that moment, I was seeing how people were needing the embodiment work, being so separate and having to communicate solely through, you know, digital spaces. So at that time, I was really focusing on how can we stay human? How can we stay embodied when we're kind of these floating heads. And it's interesting, because as we go forward from the pandemic, we're kind of now in this hybrid, where we're still very much in that way of working and living. But we also have the possibility of being in physical spaces together now. So now I'm mostly focusing on one on one mentorship, sort of long term coaching relationships, where we can really develop some intimacy and trust in that coaching relationship over time. But I'm also getting excited about getting into more rooms in person like what we did at reunion, Jamie and being able to facilitate people in physical spaces, because, of course with the embodiment work that can be incredibly powerful as well.
Jamie Lee 14:50
Yes. And in the workshop that we collaborated on, what I really appreciated about the exercise that you walked us through is like it's a way To sort of regulate the nervous system, like when you say separated hairs, I think about how for so many of women, no, in my early in my career experience to I would get disassociated, right, it's like nervous system gets activated because there is a stress, stressful situation and you go into fight flight freeze, you know, stress response. And now you're sort of in this mind spirit and you're like, your body feels numb, your heart is racing, and you don't know what to say. You're like, you're anxious. And you're Yeah, and the exercise that you walked us through this, I feel like the beauty of this embodiment somatic experience is some of which I also do in my coaching is like you help people come to like, Okay, we get to a place where we can regulate our nervous system, we have more agency, as you said, and now we can make a conscious decision about how we want to show up how we want to fill that room, like, what is the container we want to be? So I love that so much. And I want to ask you to reprise one of them. One of those exercises, but I want to ask you, when you talk about embodied voice work, but you also tell us why or how it's different from like, traditional public speaking, or even traditional leadership training, right? Because some people might be, oh, that sounds like it's you really useful if you have to be on stage. Right. But it says, Yeah, tell us a little bit about that.
Emily Jeanne Brown 16:33
Yeah, well, I think that the difference there is that we really are working with a deeper level of self. So it combines sort of a deeper personal development piece, as well as professional development, we're not just sort of work. And the most simple way to say that, I guess is we're not just working from the outside in. In other words, I'm not just telling you inflect your voice this way, and do this kind of gesture. And that kind of work can be really helpful, too. We do some of that. But we're also really working from the inside out. So we're working on a little bit more of a subtle level in terms of just like really getting, really heightening your sensitivity of your ability to kind of articulate, like, what you're sensing what you're feeling. And really what that's about is honing that self inquiry, which ultimately then leads to self leadership and self trust. So it's just I think we're working on a bit of a more deep core level. And there is some some sort of personal and emotional development going on as well. We're really inviting the whole self into the experience so that when you are getting up on stage, you know, you have the technique, you have those those skills and those tools to support your confident voice. But underneath the technique, there's really a more holistic foundation of support from within.
Jamie Lee 18:06
It almost sounds like orienting, are you. Are you familiar with the Yeah, I think orienting and like yes, trauma therapy, not just trauma, fear, but like somatic coaching or therapy, where you sort of orient yourself exactly, as you said, tuning yourself to those fine nuances of what Are you sensing? How does it feel right? What are you hearing? Or how can you feel the fabric of, of your clothes and your skin that you feel the temperature of the room, which I can imagine it really useful when when you want to become more of an influential speaker or leader, because it all those things, helps you be more attuned and being able to read the room.
Emily Jeanne Brown 18:47
Right? And what I would also say is that, you know, we're really not just focusing on sort of how you're impacting your audience, which of course, is a priority, but we're also focusing on what is your experience inside of it? Yeah, right. So it's not, it's not the same as like, hyper focusing on ourselves to the detriment of being able to take in our audience because we don't want to do that. But it's really that, you know, my, my wish for my clients is to actually really feel present to the experience of stepping into leadership, right? So that because when they can light up from that, and actually really feel it and not feel like they're kind of just like plowing through trying to try to make, you know, dog paddle their way through or or just, you know, be more focused on the audience, but not really care about their experience, when they can really connect themselves and their experience to the audience. And it's a true symbiotic exchange and conversation. I think that is really what what takes you from an excellent public speaker to an influential charismatic thought leader, because there's just there's a different energy there. Yeah,
Jamie Lee 19:59
yes. I mean, you're preaching to the choir here. But he also teaches, I mean, the eye coach and leadership skills. And to me, you know, what this reminds me of is inside coaching, we talk about, okay, how are you? How are you thinking? How are you choosing to think and how you choosing to feel about this, right in a way that is most conducive to, to you being effective, and to you being heard to you being influential. And, you know, sometimes I coach my clients to think about, yes, you're speaking of, you're advocating for what you want. But also, let's think about how this benefits, everyone in that room, or even people beyond that room, like you're speaking of, you're using their voices and act of service, your voice is an instrument of service. So it's like from so like marrying that mindset with what you're saying, so that there is congruence, right, like, as you said, inside out,
Emily Jeanne Brown 20:59
right. And the other piece that I would just throw in there is that when you're working on a deep somatic level, and you're you are engaging your your senses, and you're really orienting like feeling the fabric on your skin, feeling your feet on the ground, sensing your breath, the initial reaction to that, for someone who hasn't practiced doing that is sort of mega discomfort, like, the initial reaction, I would say, is is like, Oh, why would I want to feel my heart pounding more than I already do? Right? Like, it's not going to just go away. So that's something that I want to throw in there too, is that working on that level requires really fully feeling any discomfort that's coming up for you. And actually not trying to avoid the discomfort, working with the discomfort and finding techniques and strategies in the embodiment, you know, toolkit that can help you respond to the discomfort with awareness, rather than react to it or just sort of push it aside. And ultimately, in practicing that, and being with that discomfort over and over again, that's what builds real confidence. Right? Yeah. Actually saying, Okay, I know that I can feel uncomfortable. And still, you know, support myself through this,
Jamie Lee 22:23
right? Because, you know, when we coach leaders, they're trying to lead or effect change and change is, by definition uncomfortable to many Yes, well, it's like, discomfort is not a sign that you're doing it wrong. Discomfort can actually mean that you are achieving and experiencing growth, right. So when you have more experience, your tolerance grows with that. Love it. So in fact, now that we're on the topic of discomfort, I want to hear like, how, again, embodying that voice, how can voice embodiment help you advocate? How can how can I help women who work in male dominated work workplaces, or, you know, find themselves being minority in the workspace? How can that help them be more effective in advocating for what they want? Yeah. Well,
Emily Jeanne Brown 23:18
you know, I think that when we're integrating the whole self in this way, it gives us the opportunity to check back into the values and the core of of our why as a way to fortify as a way to give us that motivation to keep showing up. And it also really begins to cultivate this sense of enoughness, that I am not working on the voice to be a certain way to hit a certain mark, which is, I think, a very sort of traditionally masculine or sort of patriarchal way of doing things. But it's about, I have what I need, and I just need to strip away all the extra gunk that's on top of that, so that my authenticity can shine through. So really, it's about, you know, releasing habits or just being able to identify habits, old habits. And those habits could show up in the form of tension, either in the body or tension in terms of a gripping thought or a story that has sort of calcified into something that feels like truth. So one of the things that I would say for women who are working to develop that confident voice and advocate for themselves is like, really identify what those habitual thought patterns are, or those stories that you've decided are true based on something someone told you. And even if you intellectually don't think it's true, you might still have integrated it into your nervous system. And in contract release. Yes. Even if you'd like if someone said to you, oh, you have a shrill Voice one time, that kind of comment can really stick with you. And you just feel like, okay, I have a shrill voice, I need to go to Emily so that I can make my voice less shrill, right? And if you're coming in to it from that place of like knowing you have a shrill voice that's going to impact what you think is possible or how you're showing up or it's also going to impact your level of enoughness. It's like, oh, I have to I have a shrill voice. I have to fix that. So one of the things that I Yeah, so that's one of the things is like, what are those stories? What are those things that we've sort of ingested? And then can we sort of look at the opposite? What if we know that that is echoing a lot for us. And if the opposite of I have a shrill voice is like, not I have a I have a resonant voice or I have a deep voice, but like a reframe. Like I have a dynamic, like multifaceted, powerful voice, that includes shrillness. And that's sometimes if I want it to write. So that's one of the big things is like rewriting those stories, and not just doing it mentally through an affirmation that we're speaking to ourselves. But like really embodying the reframe, feeling it on a nervous system level, so that we can then say, Okay, I have all of these different qualities to me and to my voice, and I get to choose how I use them at any given time. That's just I kind of feel like that's one thing. There are other things I could say. But does that answer your question a little bit,
Jamie Lee 26:36
totally. And that is really powerful. It really lets me know that you're a powerful coach, because when women like I have to we end up internalizing the sexism. That is just like everywhere, right? Women have internalized that men, they don't even like some men don't even recognize it. Right. And, and so what I'm hearing is if somebody comes to you and like Emily, I wish shrill voice you're not be like, you're not going to be like, yeah, you have a shrill voice. And here's how to fix it. XY and Z. Oh, shrill voice. That's that's the problem. No, you're not going to be like that. You're going to be like, let's get curious. But what if in fact, you it's not that you have a shrill voice? You have the misperceived by a society that is biased against women, especially powerful vocal women. Right? And how can you empower yourself and really feel good in your own body in your own skin about the dynamic ranges that your voice truly has? Right, and that's so powerful?
Emily Jeanne Brown 27:42
Yeah. And, you know, and also, like, if I do have a shrill voice, which shrill I feel like it's such a loaded, generally word. So that's already kind of like, you know, whatever we can do with that what we will. But what if we, instead of saying, I don't want that, or I don't want to be shrill, it's like, okay, I have a shrill voice, who, you know, why might my voice do something like that? Why would my voice go up there? You know, what is that emotion behind that? I'm serious. Like, when I do that, I suddenly feel like, oh, like, I feel a rush of emotion behind that. So what is the shrillness? What's underneath the shrillness? And can we like, explore the shrillness? If that's in fact, something that is coming through and let that be part of the journey toward a whole like fully supported voice rather than saying, I want to get rid of that? Because actually, that tone that tambor is something authentic to you, or it's something it's some reaction to something that is worth, like you said, being curious about an integrating rather than shunning.
Jamie Lee 28:51
So it's like what I'm hearing is there's a difference between repressing your voice out of socialized shame, correct? Yes. As opposed to embody, like embracing the full range of your voice in creating some, you know, pictures that other people might label shrill is like, Sure, embracing all of it, so that you can be as dynamic you can be as effective in speaking up,
Emily Jeanne Brown 29:20
right and you're not speaking in reaction to something that was traumatizing. You're like, you're not speaking in reaction to something that someone shamed you about. You're just speaking from your whole self, and deciding how you do that. And I mean, that's what we do in actor training. I mean, this is where the thread between actor training and embodied voice work for leadership and presence coaching, you know, that's where the thread connects, because, you know, I just did that kind of like high voice thing. And it's like, when we're actors, we are exploring every facet of human behavior, right? Of the ugly and the the honorable from ever Read every angle. And so of course, we don't necessarily want to bring all of those things into a professional environment, because that's not going to serve our, our deeper desire our and be in alignment with our values. But that doesn't mean we want to, like you said shut it down or, you know, push it aside, we want to, we want all of those pieces to reintegrate, so that we can choose from, from a place of like abundant choice of how we're sharing ourselves, which is real power. Right. And that's what I believe that's what is required. In in, especially for those of us who feel, you know, really aligned with the work that we're doing and who want to make a real impact through our work that we have to we have to really draw from that well of personal power in order to do that.
Jamie Lee 30:53
I can talk to you like for hours and hours of art. And I have a question this. About 10 years ago, when I started hosting negotiation workshops for professional women, I used to before the pandemic, we would all gather in a room and do mock negotiations, we would practice asking for the raise asking for the promotion that we want it. And it was only after the fact this was a well documented, well photographed event at a feminist conference. And I was looking at all the photos the photographer took at the mock negotiation roleplay and I noticed that everyone made this gesture, hands would claps together in front of them almost as if, you know, they're like, beseeching, they're like, we're asking you a favor, you know? And unconsciously I could, I could tell it could it could like denote or it could communicate this place of coming from lower status, lower position of power, asking somebody who has a higher position of power, would you please, you know, be nice to me, would you please consider this ask? And it does make sense in when you think about Yes, for the most part for for many times, you know, we are asking somebody who is in a higher position of authority. But I I was Nether when I'm remembering that scene, I would love to hear like an actor's take, like, what do you suppose could be a different or even like a slightly better body language, right? In order to fully embody the voice of like, Hey, I'm owning my value, I'm owning my voice. I'm owning my ass. Like, I'm curious what comes up for you?
Emily Jeanne Brown 32:40
That's a wonderful observation. And a great question, I actually made some content about the the idea of habitual stances, or habitual gestures that we that we do. And when you think about it, you know, clasping the hands together, I think that's something that we sort of think of as, like, contained professionalism. You know, maybe especially for women men do it too, though, like we have this impulse to kind of just appear to be contained, which I think is very connected to a sort of old school idea of what professionalism looks like, too. And, and also, when you think about it, you know, weaving your fingers together, being able to have contact between the hands, it's like, why are we doing that gesture, habitually, for ourselves, and part of it is about wanting something to grab on to wanting to have make contact, and it also closes us off in front. So it helps us feel a little less vulnerable. But exactly like you said, what it looks like on the outside is sort of tame deferential, like, a little boring, you know, and sort of, like, kind of protecting, like protecting yourself. And so I just say all that to say like, when we look at something habitual, it's important to understand why that habit is there, because it has probably helped us in the past. But once we know it's there, and we know it's a habit, we can say, Hmm, do I want to be assuming a stance that from the outside looks sort of protective and deferential? Or am I interested in trying something different? Am I curious to try something different? Not Is this better? But just Am I curious to try something different? And so what I would say is whether your habitual stance is clasping your hands in front of you, crossing your arms, you know, hanging on to a podium, what can you shift to find a little more openness in your posture. So there's not a correct way to do that. But for the class hands, the obvious one would be to unclasp the hands and just just unclasp the hands. And notice what happens when you go from clasped hands to unclasp hands. Notice what discomfort or what sort of like I'm off balance experience you feel by undoing that habitual stance, and then that's the thing that we want to work with, to open into a posture that's going to read, status. Not disrespectful. But like, I know that I belong here. And I'm here to actually meet you in this negotiation. I'm not here to defer to you, I'm here to meet you, and and discuss why this race or this promotion is going to benefit both of us and have this mutual collaborative interaction. That's where you can then kind of come into your power more.
Jamie Lee 35:49
I have a question about that. So one thing that I learned in public speaking training is how to hold like a power pose. You know, sometimes we think about the Wonder Woman pose with your hands on your hips, your legs apart, picking up space, and then you know, another another one is the steepled hands, where your hands are together, you're just the tips of your fingers are touching. And so there is space in between the hands. And this is something that researchers have documented, like a lot of people, both men and women tend to hold like the steeple pose, and what are your thoughts about that like, so instead of clasping your hands, you could still have your hands, you know, close to you in front of you, but hold it in an open steeples, just so just the tips are touching. So there is a sense of openness or a sense of also like stability. What do you think about totally?
Emily Jeanne Brown 36:43
I, my response to that is the most important thing is that any gesture you're making, or any like, position, you're assuming, is being done with intention. It's not, it's not a habitual, absent minded thing, right? So it's not just like, I'm just here, and then I'm stuck here. Even with your hands clenched, like in the in the pyramid, one that you described, even with your hands clasped, that could be okay, as long as there's an awareness that it's happening, and that when you want to make a shift, you can make a shift. So I think the important thing isn't, what is the pose that feels more open or not open? It's more about, Am I able to fluidly shift through my talk, in order to emphasize the points I want to make, right or like so it's, it's it's not static. It's like I can I can shift in response to how I'm feeling in response to what the audience is giving me as a as an intentional way to drive home a particular point at one point of the storytelling. It's more about having that facility to move and shift than it is about like, which pose or gesture is better or not. Does that
Jamie Lee 38:02
again, yes, again. So it's more about having curiosity, awareness, agency and authority, rather than just like being stuck in something, right? Because you're like frozen, or being
Emily Jeanne Brown 38:14
like, Oh, someone taught me this is the gesture. And I think that's where, you know, that's a perfect example of like, a difference between more traditional public speaking training, and sort of how I approach it not that you learning that gesture is wrong, but just that, like, I probably would never teach someone, this is a good gesture to use. Because it's, it's only a good gesture to use. If it's like, authentic in the moment for you. It's not that it's not like, Oh, it's good to have a library of things I can I can call on. But it's really more about like the fluidity than it is about, you know, because if you hold this gesture for 10 minutes, that's going to be kind of weird, right? Yeah. Again, I'm going to be effective.
Jamie Lee 38:55
Yeah, I'm like, we might get back to what you said earlier, that was really profound for me, which is that it's not just about the the, the content, it's about the container itself. So if we think about you being the container is like, do you have agency do you have fluidity? Do you have authenticity within your containers that you're not prescribing to something that some guru wrote in a article, but you like exactly here? I'm present. I'm listening. I'm alive. I'm engaged. Yes.
Emily Jeanne Brown 39:23
Yes, exactly. So yeah.
Jamie Lee 39:28
And so do you have any specific tips? Or like, Do you have any tips that you want to share with women who want to speak with a more confident voice? They will. They often feel like they're not being heard. And partially, that is really about systemic bias, because workplaces tend to be male dominated, and they tend to overlook the voices of women. And so I'm curious like if you have any tips that you want to share with them?
Emily Jeanne Brown 39:58
I do I wrote down a few. And some of them are kind of going to be repeats of, of what I've already said. But the first one is really get curious about the stories you have about yourself about your voice and about your presence, like how you show up and anything that that you've either said to yourself or that you've gotten feedback on that has made you feel less than or negative in some way to really notice what those stories are to first, realize that they are stories that are being repeated, right, because we are actually changeable growth full beings that are not stuck in one way of of existing forever. So noticing what those are, and then playing with, what if the opposite were true, or maybe not the opposite. But what if a reframe of this were true? So this is getting back to the shrill comment of like, my voice is shrill versus my voice is dynamic. And that can include shrillness, maybe. And I'm curious about that. So really kind of playing with those types of reframes. But then also finding a way to get those reframes into your whole, excuse me, your whole system, your whole body, so not just doing it in your mind. And that would go to my second tip, which is if you haven't already, to start to develop a relationship with your breath, which sounds kind of weird, and we maybe but like, a lot of people have done yoga have done meditation have done some form of mindfulness. But what I would say there are a lot of different ways to do it. And even even taking a jog, you could do it. But it requires that combination of awareness and intention, with the physical act of breathing. And just to notice that breathing is one of those mechanisms in the body that happens whether or not we try to do it. It's a it's a, I forget what the word is. But it's just like a natural life system. Yeah, it just happens all day long. So combining our awareness of that, with just like a moment of intentionally observing your breath, or perhaps manipulating your breath in some way to make to deepen it if that if that feels good. But just getting curious about what are different ways to get in touch with your breath. Because to me breath, like you said, is its life source. It's like our energy, spirit, whatever you want to call it, vitality, it's like our aliveness, it's the essence of who we are, I think. And it it also literally is the physiological mechanism that supports our sound. So it's, it ties the two things together, the technical voice, and the sort of metaphorical voice. So breath is a huge one. And then the last two that I wrote down, where to just start getting in the habit of taking messy action, or doing something new that feels uncomfortable or scary, and getting in the habit of that just to grow your your self trust, letting yourself flub something and deal with that and see what that's like and realize that it doesn't, you know, bring the world to the ground, like, you know, maybe starting in a lower stakes way and kind of working your way up. But just getting into the practice of that. And then finally, to get really clear on your values. What do you care about? Why do you show up? Who cares? Who cares about negotiating for, you know, myself, other than just wanting to get paid more? Like, what is the thing that I am? What am I serving? What am I what am I bringing? What is my mission and my message on a deeper level, and really knowing that getting in touch with those values is going to be the thing that supports you in more confidently advocating for yourself.
Jamie Lee 43:44
So good. So I'm going to apply this to myself. And as you were talking, I was thinking about how I would apply it because I have also been told that I was too quiet in the workplace. And then I was told I was too loud, right? These are just gendered responses to a woman's voice in the workplace. And so I was thinking about how might I apply the tips that you you just shared with me? If I were ambitious, if I wanted were wanting to go for growth, because my personal value is growth, like I want to continuously grow and learn and develop and do better than I did last year. Just because that really feels true to who I am and that is so much more fun and and fulfilling for me. And so if I were to really question reframe the, the feedback that I'm too loud, then I would not diminish my voice when I go to ask or negotiate. You know, whether that is collaboration or promotion. And I wouldn't like self consciously like speaking a little voice because God forbid she's somebody think I'm too loud or too whatever, right? So I would just be more I'd ease in my own body and my own voice. And then I would remember to breathe. Because I've cultivated this relationship with my breath. And so even if I've like written down a script or something, I will remember to take pauses, where like, I want to emphasize something or I want to pause and listen and like ask for feedback. Are you with me? Do you have questions? Is anything unclear? Right? How can we work together to make this happen, right? Intentional pauses to engage in dialogue. And, again, I love the thing about just like, yeah, small stakes, let's just ask even if it is like for a better table at a restaurant, even if it is like you want to negotiate, you know, who takes out the garbage tonight, or like little chores at home so that you start building that muscle for self advocacy? This is so good. So with that said, Would you walk us through the points of contact exercise? Like I loved what Emily did in the workshop? And this is one of the exercises that she led us through at Smith College reunion in May. And would you be open to doing that for our podcast audience so they could have like a little feel for what this embodiment exercise could be like?
Emily Jeanne Brown 46:15
Absolutely. And the first thing I want to say is that if you're someone who has practiced any kind of mindfulness or embodiment work in the past, this may feel quite familiar to you. It's not a super fancy exercise, there's nothing kind of, you know, there's nothing about it. Well, this is what I'll say. My teacher, Jeff, always used to say it's not about the exercise, right. So this is a framework for you to practice, maybe nervous system regulation may be just curiosity, to get that self inquiry muscle going. So what I'd like to invite listeners to try if you're going to participate in the exercise, is to see how much you can come into it with curiosity about what's happening in the moment right now, for you today. And that that's going to be the foundation for a continued practice going forward of self inquiry that leads to self leadership and self trust. So we'll start by coming into a seated position if you're not sitting already. And just let yourself kind of sit naturally without being too fussy about it. And just let your eyes fall down to your feet on the ground. Just noticing your feet on the ground. And see how just bringing your attention and awareness to the feet, through your eyes. And through your attention. Just brings more presence into your feet than you had perhaps a few seconds ago. noticing what's going on with your feet? Are you barefoot? Are you wearing socks? I'm wearing fuzzy slippers. Are you touching wood floor carpet, just noticing the little nuances and the details of sensation around your feet. And then lifting your eyes back up and maybe sitting back into yourself a little more, you can allow your eyes to gently flutter closed and letting your weight dropped down into your seat feeling through the two contact points that are most close to the chair in your seat. So the two sit bones. And seeing if you can really hone in on those sit bones where they sort of come to a point. So you almost have a bit of like a bridge through the pelvis where there's less contact in between the legs, and then there's more contact at those sit bone points in the chair. And now just see if you can feel sort of these substantial highways of sensation of your two legs. Or if you don't have two legs, that's totally fine. I like to always say that but whatever's coming into contact, feeling the connection point between feet and sit bones. So feeling the substance, the weight of your legs or simply have your seat so that we're able to establish a really awake, alive, sort of tingling Foundation, through the base of our body. This is going to be the route that supports us. And the last piece is to allow your hands to fall onto your lap. And you can do this in whatever way feels most comfortable to you. I like to slowly place my hands palm face down onto my legs and really kind of as I placed them, think about the intention with which I'm bringing pressure and sensation to my legs. through my hands. So it's almost like I'm using my hands to reassure myself. If hands down is not your favorite, you might also try hands up and to be in a more kind of receptive posture. But really, it's about how you place the hands. So letting that placement be intentional and expressive. So now you've got six points of contact, your feet, your sit bones, and your hands. And once again, it doesn't have to be six, it's wherever you're coming into contact with solid matter. But from this sort of beautifully supportive scaffolding of this pose, where you have six points of contact, I want to invite you to shift yourself in the chair in whatever way you need to, to feel more at ease and more supported. So for me, usually, I noticed that I'm kind of pitching forward. So I'm going to just let myself settle back into myself a little bit. And then I'm just going to bring my attention to my breath, observing my breath, as it's moving, as it's coming and going on its own without me having to do anything. And I'm noticing I'm getting curious about what that relationship is between the container, the support system of my skeleton, and my musculature, creating this very upright posture, very supported, upright posture, that's very still. And the dynamic, fluid, changeable, quality of my breath. So there's an interplay there between container support, and then fluid, vitality, and energy through the breath. And actually, this is a perfect exercise to close out our conversation, because that relationship between supportive foundation and then free, expressive, breath slash, self slash voice, that relationship is, is central to how embodied voice works. And this is a perfect embodiment, I would say, of that principle that we've been discussing today. So just feeling that kind of interplay between stillness and movement, sturdiness and fluidity.
Emily Jeanne Brown 52:52
letting the breath really expand up into the chest and down into the belly. Just noticing how it shifts. And as you're ready, you can slowly about the eyelids open, coming back into the room and kind of staying with that dynamic that you've cultivated here between stability and fluidity. letting it be very alive, not needing it to be very stuck or robotic, but just kind of letting the room come into play as well. And then just noticing what's shifted in your awareness of yourself. And if you were to speak from this place what you might say, or how you feel that your voice might land on the listener
Jamie Lee 53:58
I feel like I'm coming from a more calmer, more grounded. I feel like my I felt like coming from like a, like a mini spy experience. Like, whoa, calm down, I got more grounded, more still, but also sturdy, like strong but fluid. I love that. So before I let you go, please let us know how folks can find you.
Emily Jeanne Brown 54:26
Yes. So I'm on Instagram at on voice underscore. I'm also on LinkedIn. Emily Brown. I asked I'll share the link my LinkedIn link with you if you want to post it. And then my website is Emily Jean brown.com. And for coaching it's slash on voice because my website has my artists stuff as well which you're welcome to check out if you're interested. I have a monthly newsletter called embodied everything where I share a tip or are, you know, kind of thought or practice for how to incorporate embodiment into your life and leadership to develop a more confident voice. And every month that comes out with a blog post and an instructional video, guiding you through an exercise. So it's a great resource if you're interested in this work and you want to start to incorporate it in kind of an organic way. And you can sign up for that newsletter on my website. I
Jamie Lee 55:29
love it. Thank you so much.
Emily Jeanne Brown 55:31
Thank you, Jamie, this was really fun.
Jamie Lee 55:34
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