The surprising secret to speaking with confidence | Caroline Goyder | TEDxBrixton

The surprising secret to speaking with confidence | Caroline Goyder | TEDxBrixton

Translator: Angelica Teal
Reviewer: Denise RQ It is this moment, isn’t it? I’m looking at you,
and you look like a really nice bunch. There’s been such great energy. I was sitting here for five minutes,
and it just feels great in this room. You look really friendly enough,
so thank you! You are looking a bit unsure
in a voice coach. Don’t worry, it’s going to be fine. And I can see a couple of
really brainy TED faces there. There’s going to be a few ideas, too. But it’s this moment, when eyes,
our worlds, are colliding right now. You are looking at me,
I am looking at you, and it hits my brain
with the feeling of adrenaline; accelerating molecules, you might say. Different people deal with
this moment differently. Some of us go, “Hey!”, you know? There are people who are confident, they cope with this moment
totally fine. Then there are other people
not so confident, and it stops them
from speaking this moment; It makes them feel anxious,
that maybe they are not up to it. That is not the case. Actually, all of us
have confidence within. What I want to talk about today is the idea that we can find
more confidence within us if we know where to look. Where do we look? We go within. We look under the bonnet. That’s where we are going next. And the reason I want to talk
about this is because, many years ago, I stood in front of an audience
this big – bigger – at Central Hall, which is by the Houses of Parliament,
a really big Methodist space. I was super excited about that moment because I knew that it was my big moment
as a rookie voice coach, and I was going to be able to speak. I stepped up in front of that audience, and what happened was everything
that could possibly go wrong did. I went too fast, I lost my words. It felt like such a horrible experience. And just as I thought
it couldn’t go any worse, the microphone broke. I looked out across the room,
and I said in my big voice coach voice, – there wasn’t so much wind
at the time, I have to say – (Laughter) I said in my big voice coach voice,
“Can you hear me at the back?” And someone said, “Speak up!” I felt this feeling of absolute shame. That feeling of an audience
looking at you, and a feeling of judgment
which cripples us. I left that venue, and I thought
to myself, “Never again.” Clearly that didn’t work
because I am here. I also thought I am going to do it
differently next time. I will make sure that next time
I stand up to speak, it feels good. Where I had to go was within. We live in a really visual culture. We spend a lot of time
– if you think about two worlds – we spend a lot of time
thinking about the outside. Maybe especially for women. Actually, confidence doesn’t exist
on the outside; It exists within, in the visceral stuff, in the bits within you that we don’t see. We are going to go to those bits. When I was thinking about
this idea three months ago, when I was asked to do it, I started to feel nervous
about this moment, I started to think about a quote the director Peter Brook had said which is that we open
new drawers in the self. I started to think
about a chest of drawers. Then I came across this really cool maker called George McCallum,
who is actually sitting there. I said to George, “Can you make me
a chest of drawers? And he did. You might be wondering
what this object is. And what this object is here
is what George made. But when you ask a maker
to make a chest of drawers, they don’t always do
what you think they are going to do. Do you want to see what he did? (Laughter) Yeah! Thanks George.
Best response of the morning. Upstaged by the furniture. (Laughter) Within this little chest of drawers, this rather big,
manly chest of drawers, are three secrets
to finding confidence within. Three lessons I had to learn on the way. There is a big lesson in here. The last lesson is the big one. We are going to get there,
and it’s not what you might think. It’s a lesson that might surprise you. But first, would you like
to see inside the first drawer? (Audience) Yes! CG: It’s a bit delicate this; George. So what we have in here is an instrument. Because you just been hearing the voice
is the most amazing instrument. It’s magnificent. How often do you think
about how yours works? Because like this little guitar,
it has a string, and it has a hitter. Where is the string of your voice? Can you put a hand on it? Here, give it a shake; it’s your larynx. Ahhhhh… Can everyone
do that for meeee? Ahhhhh! The hitter is the air. When you know
that your voice is an instrument, what does that tell you? People come to me and say, “I’ve a bad voice,”
“I am not a good speaker.” “I get worried about this kind of moment.” “I hate meetings,” “I hate
presentations,” “Can’t do it.” The voice is an instrument. There is not such thing
as a bad saxophone, is there? Because when we hear a great saxophonist, and he is probably somewhere down here, what we know
is that they’ve practiced a lot, that not only did they have talent
but also they have worked, and worked, and worked
to get a great sound. If you ever doubt the sound of your voice, let me tell you
all you have to do is practice. When I was worrying about that moment I am going to call my central hall
of shame, because it was, what I remembered was the story
of a guy in Ancient Greece called Demosthenes. There’s a big old name, so we’re going to call him
the Greek dude from now on, which actually is also
a bit of a big word, so we might just call him Dave, I think. (Laughter) Dave was speaking
at the Assembly which is like the O2. We have Simon in the room. It’s like the Brixton Academy
of the Ancient Greek world. He was feeling pretty nervous.
He wanted to be an orator. Orators were the rock stars of their day. So he geared himself up
for this big moment at the Assembly, and you know what? He bombed. They said he was uncouth in his speaking,
and that he stammered. So the audience jeered at him,
and they threw stuff. Please don’t do that today! (Laughter) He left that stage feeling so downcast when he got a bit of advice from an actor. I’m sure Greek actors were
pretty much the same as they are now. I am sure the actor was a bit like this,
but what he said to him was, “You need more expression in your voice. You are not giving
enough welly, enough energy. You also need to believe in yourself
because the message is good.” Demosthenes takes himself
back home, and he goes for it. This is his rocky moment. He builds himself an underground cellar. He shaves his head – half of his head – so that he can’t leave
the house for three months and then he practices
for three months solid in front of a big shield
that is polished like a mirror. When he is ready, when he is up there, he goes out. He goes to the sea,
and he speaks over the waves. His voice has to boom out over the waves. Then, he goes back.
He goes back to the Assembly. He speaks again, and he becomes known
as one of the greatest orators of his day. What does that tell you? It tells you about practice. The power of practice. You may not want
to shave half of your head; you may not want to build
an underground cellar because the council may have words, but what you can do is practice. And the simplest way
to practice is to sing. You don’t have to do
a big, “Mamamamahh!”, a voice coach warm-up
– unless you want to – but what I really recommend
is that everyday sing somewhere: sing in the shower, sing in the car,
sing on the tube if you feel brave. (Laughter) I was at St Thomas’ Hospital
for a blood test about two weeks ago, and there were two women
singing in the space where the blood test
was happening which was lovely. So I recommend it. Singing is the way to a great voice. Practice is the way to a great instrument. That’s lesson one. We have another drawer
which we will open in a moment, but before we get there, I’ve a question. Say you walk into a room, OK? You don’t know anybody. Some of you may have had
that feeling this morning. How do you know who the most
powerful person in the room is? The person with the most confidence, that inner confidence
that we are going for here? How could you tell? How they carry themselves.
That’s lovely, [Lola]. You are in the same space, aren’t you? Because you are a singer. It is that how they carry themselves. Actually, what an actor will tell you
is that is about the breath. The most powerful person in the room
has the most relaxed breathing pattern. There is a well-known scientist called
Paul Eckman who looks into emotion, and he said
– which would make actors laugh because it seems
so straightforward to them that maybe isn’t to science – that he couldn’t understand
why breath mattered for a long time, and his research has explored it, until he started to understand
that the unconscious system– You know I can’t control my spleen. It is just doing its own thing. But I can control my breathing. And if I get into my breathing,
I get into the unconscious. I calm myself down. So what’s within you is the key
to this relaxed, confident power. Actors know this because when actors are playing King,
the King stays really still. Everybody moves around the king, and that’s how you know
the king is in charge. The next time you fell nervous about
something, try that; try getting still. Within your body is something
that is really the king of the body. It’s what the Greeks called
the center of all expression. I bet that 50% of this room
has never thought about it. Would you like to see what it is? Thank you, my still handsome friend. We’ve our lungs, don’t we? We have this, which is probably not
an anatomical representation of a heart, but it is nice. (Laughter) But what’s down here? What’s this? (Audience) The diaphragm? CG: Thank you very much! Diaphragm.
It is indeed your diaphragm. Put your hands up if you have thought
about the diaphragm recently. Put your hands up if you thought
about your diaphragm today. Thank you, singers in the room; good.
Or actors, or saxophonists. Put your hands up if you haven’t yet
thought about your diaphragm today. Yeah, that is quite a large percentage. So we don’t think about
our diaphragms, do we? But the diaphragm is the key
to regulating your system. It is how you calm yourself down in that moment when you stand
in front of all the eyes. It will make you feel confident when you most need it,
and you’d least feel like it. I didn’t know anything
about my diaphragm. I’d learned about it. I knew
what it was supposed to look like, but I didn’t know how it felt. Then one day, I was feeling really stressed,
I was breathing up in my chest. I had that kind of squeaky high-voiced
adrenaline breathing up in the chest; Not good. I walked into a yoga class,
and the yoga teacher said, “You look really stressed.” Which is never a good start. He said, “Lie down on the floor.” And he laid me down, I closed my eyes, expecting some
lovely relaxing yoga thing, and suddenly, he put
a gym weight on my stomach. And he said, “Breathe, lift that.” I did. I breathed in, and as I breathed in, I had to lift that gym weight
with my stomach, and my diaphragm shuddered into action. Suddenly, I got it.
I got how it should feel. I got that I didn’t need to
breathe up here anymore; that I could breathe down. I’d like to suggest that the diaphragm
is the king of confidence. Should we find yours? We take a thumb– Take your thumb and just put it
bellow your bra strap. Yeah, that’s right, sir. You got it. (Laughter) That’s it. With your thumb
there, gently push. Lawrence Olivier,
when he was taught to breathe– Lawrence Olivier – you know, the actor? was taught to breathe
by pushing a grand piano. I certainly don’t have
a grand piano at home. London houses don’t fit them
these days, do they? But we can all practice
the feeling of pushing a grand piano if we breathe in
and push your thumb away. Now breathe out and push back. You are filling up an air balloon
in your stomach. Now, breathe in,
push your thumb away. Now breathe out, push it back. Welcome to your diaphragm. If you put your hand on your ribs, your diaphragm goes all the way around. You can also fill the rib cages
as you breathe in. You feel the ribs open as you breathe, and close as you breathe out. If you are ever nervous about
one of these moments, do that. Your diaphragm is the key
to your confidence. So we’ve two lessons: we’ve the power of practice.
we’ve the importance of the diaphragm. There’s a third lesson
which is the big one. It’s the one
that really makes a difference. I started to think about this lesson
a couple of weeks ago actually, because someone I’d worked with
wrote to me. She wrote me an email, and she said she’d been through
the worst possible thing that you could imagine
happening to someone. She had just got married,
and was on honeymoon, when her husband
had a heart attack and died. She had to go back to the church
they got married in and speak a eulogy for this man. In fact, she also read a poem
that she had written when they first met. She said, “On the worst day
of my life, I had to put myself together. I had to find the energy of celebration
for this man who I really loved, and the only way to do it
was you taught me. The skills of breathing low and slow;
taking my time, getting the control,
finding the inner confidence. It was the greatest gift
that I could give him.” There are moments in our lives
where we have to speak not because we have
something to say for us but because we want
to speak for someone else: a wedding, a eulogy. I would suggest that in those moments,
these skills matter more than ever. What you need to know
in those moments is in this drawer. It’s breath. It’s air. Why does air matter? It’s because we breathe our thoughts. All speech is our breath.
All song is our breath. And all in breath is thought. Just put a hand back on that diaphragm
for a moment, and breathe out. Then feel the breath in, and as you breathe in,
think of someone you really love. If we were all to speak
on that out breath, it would be full of love. Now breathe in again, and breathe in a feeling of excitement
for the day that is going to come because it’s going to be so good. If we were to breathe in
and then speak on that feeling, then we have excitement in our voices. So you can control your voice with the idea of breath is thought. And it’s in Latin,
the two worlds: ancient and modern. The Romans understood this: inspiration and respiration
have the same root. The Romans understood
that we breathe our thoughts. Because we speak on the out-breath, all you have to think about
is the in-breath. You know, the simplest way
to think about the in-breath: close your mouth. So who would have thought
that the big secret I promised you was that if you want
confidence in speech, all you have to do is to know
when to shut your mouth. (Laughter) Thank you. (Applause)

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