What do a NYC food tour and public speaking have in common?

Word cloud about mindfulness

This is iSpeak Clearly’s second article in a series on mindfulness and mindful awareness of speaking. The first article is available here.

 

Recently I had the good fortune to go on a food tour in NYC with a friend. We made our way from one eatery to another, savoring the unique characteristics of each dish: salty, sweet, savory, crisp, or creamy.

If we hadn’t learned from a young age to distinguish between salty or sweet, crisp or creamy, we would not have been able to pay attention to and appreciate those qualities. But, thanks to our experience as lifelong eaters, we were consciously aware of the nuances of flavor in each bite.

For tasting special cheeses or wine, you may even have to learn about additional characteristics of their flavor and aroma to truly appreciate their quality.

Eating and speaking are enhanced with mindful awareness

Speaking can be like food-tasting…you must know what characteristics to be aware of if you hope to appreciate them or modify them to create new habits.

Learning new components to the speaking dynamic may be necessary to take your skills to the next level.

But how do you know what to be aware of if you have never been taught? Most of us are not aware of our unique speaking habits and how they influence others’ perception of us.

That is where mindfulness and a speech coach come in. Let’s start by defining mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), defines it this way: “Mindfulness is awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” 1 2

In guided mindfulness practice, cues are provided to gently direct awareness and attention to the present moment. You may be directed to focus on your breath, sounds you hear, smells around you, or the contact of your body in the space.

Things you never noticed before suddenly exist as a result of this attention.

How does mindful awareness relate to speaking?

If you’re like most people, you probably pay little attention to your voice. When preparing for a presentation, for example, chances are you focus your efforts on what to say, but not how to say the words you choose. There are more than a dozen variables that influence speaking, communication, and the impact on the listener. Learning what they are will allow you to become mindfully aware of your speech and communication and the effectiveness of your message.

How do I develop mindful awareness of my speaking and communication?

Start by meeting with a speech coach to identify the components of an ideal speaking voice and your speaking voice. (Contact iSpeakClearly for a free consultation.)

The first step you’ll take with a speech coach is explore what are you are doing and what you would like to change.

Then, through mindful awareness, you will be able to notice and appreciate these qualities in yourself and others.

Change will come later. Just as you need to taste your food before deciding if it needs more salt, you also need to evaluate your speaking skills before you can decide how to improve them.

Read on for a few easy tips to become more aware of your speaking.

First, you must develop mindful awareness of your speech. Where are you now?

This exercise is about developing awareness: paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, so you can decide where you may need help and improvement.

  1. Your breath while speaking
    Breath is the fuel for your voice. Focus on the flow of air. Do you feel the rise and fall of your abdomen with each inhalation and exhalation as you speak?
  2. Your rate of speech
    How would you describe your rate of speech? Fast, slow, or evenly paced?
  3. The loudness of your voice
    What is the volume of your voice when you speak? Is it too loud, too soft, or appropriate to the message?
  4. Pronunciation
    How clearly and precisely do you enunciate? How we articulate each sound directly affects how words are understood.
  5. Body language
    What message is your body language and nonverbal communication relating to your listener? Is it supporting or undermining your message?

Increase mindful awareness of your speaking

Speaking can be like food-tasting…you must know what characteristics to be aware of if you hope to appreciate them or modify them to create new habits.

This idea applies to other aspects of work and life as well. If you lack confidence in work situations, are not achieving leadership roles as you wish to, or have difficulty communicating with others in your life, mindful awareness of your habits (along with training from a speech coach) leads to new habits and better skills.

We can help you assess your speaking and communication skills to increase mindful awareness. Contact us for a free phone consultation. 

Next month we will discuss the next step: acquiring the skills to create new speaking habits, with the goal to speak with confidence in all aspects of your life and workday.

 

 

1. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2016). Mindfulness for beginners: reclaiming the present moment – and your life. Boulder, CO: Sound True.
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn