“It's not just how you sound. It's your voice. It's who you are. It's what you want to say. And if you have a tool that can help you express yourself, isn't that better?” — Jessica Hansen
In this episode of Outliers, I’m talking with Jessica Hansen (@JessActs), about the importance of having a strong voice in both a professional and personal setting, techniques to hone your voice, and finding the “ideal voice” (hint: it’s your own!).
Jessica Hansen is the voice of NPR’s funding credits, as well as the in-house voice coach at NPR headquarters. She has held roles on several television shows and has performed in commercials and films. After earning her MFA at Brandeis University, Jessica went on to co-found Lean & Hungry Theater, which creates a podcast and audio adaptations of classic literature for classrooms. In addition to her work at NPR, Jessica provides vocal coaching and voice-over services.
- 00:01:30 – How Jessica became interested in voice through theater
- 00:04:29 – Jessica’s work at NPR
- 00:06:35 – Working with journalists, and the importance of their performance levels
- 00:09:13 – On finding and honing the perfect NPR voice
- 00:16:51 – The difference between working with men’s and women’s voices
- 00:21:55 – Jessica shares techniques on controlling your nerves before speaking, including breathwork
- 00:26:47 – The building blocks of voice
- 00:30:02 – Jessica’s voice coaching process, from beginner to advanced levels
- 00:38:47 – Simple but effective tips for finding your best voice
- 00:45:05 – Voices that Jessica finds fascinating
- 00:47:58 – Exercises for practicing with your voice
- 00:51:02 – Recommendations for resources on the voice
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…
This episode is brought to you by Feals.
Feals is Premium CBD delivered directly to your doorstep. It naturally helps reduce stress, anxiety, pain, and sleeplessness. Just place a few drops of Feals under your tongue and feel the difference within minutes. There’s no high, hangover or addiction. Join the Feals community to get Feals delivered to your door every month. You’ll save money on every order and you can pause or cancel any time. Click this link to become a member and automatically save 50% off your first order (with free shipping).
This episode is brought to you by Mailman.
If your inbox is a never-ending nightmare of new emails and constant stress you need Mailman. It's an email assistant that shields you from unimportant emails and minimizes interruptions — making your days calmer and more productive. With Mailman, you can get emails delivered every few hours, not every few seconds. You can set VIPs as exceptions and screen new senders to block distractions. So, stop stressing over email and start using Mailman. Try it FREE for 3 weeks and use the code OUTLIERS to save 20% off your first year.
This episode is brought to you by Flow.
Every single day, thousands of teams in more than 140 countries use Flow to save time, hit deadlines, and work brilliantly. Flow combines powerful features with world-class design to create a productivity app that you'll actually love using. And for the last 18 months they've been working on something huge — an entirely new version of Flow that they call Flow X. It's the embodiment of everything they've learned helping teams complete millions of tasks and achieve more together. Try Flow absolutely free for 30 days and see how it can take your team's work to the next level.
Links from the Episode
- Connect with Jessica: Website | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter
- Lean & Hungry Theater, which adapts the works of Shakespeare and others
- Voice coaching with Jessica
- Jessica’s voice training YouTube video
- Tracking session
- Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leanord Koren
- Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts by Leonard Koren
- Vocal fry
- "Reptile" brain
- Patsy Rodenburg, a British voice coach
- Certified teachers
Voice methods, techniques, and tools mentioned:
- Voice training webinars by the Kristin Linklater Centre
- The Feldenkrais Method
- The Alexander Technique
- Tongue Twisters and Vocal Warm-Ups by Rodney Saulsberry
- The Morrison Bone Prop
- 4-7-8 breath relaxation exercise
Memorable voices mentioned:
- Cate Blanchett's voice in “The Gift”
- Guy Raz, whose NPR voice is instantly recognizable
- James Earl Jones
- Tom Hanks
The key to finding and being confident in your best voice is mindfulness. Being aware of your breath, your posture, and your habits can open the door to accessing your whole voice.
- Women can focus on integrating deeper tones in their voices: “I actually spend a lot more time with women than with men saying, ‘It's not about lowering the pitch of your voice, and it's not about speaking in the very bottom of your range. It's about integrating the bottom of your voice with the rest of your voice.’ So you have all of that warm, lower, deep resonance, but you also have your overtones and your brightness, and we want to marry those so that you're using your whole voice all the time.”
- “Really, the basics of my work are creating mindfulness. What are you aware of? Can you notice where you're breathing? Can you notice how you're breathing? And once you have the awareness of what you're doing, then you can shift that and we can play with, ‘Oh, well, what happens if you breathe into this place instead?’ or ‘How can you navigate this tricky situation, whether it's nerves or a hot flash or whatever? How can we navigate this? How can we be mindful of knowing how your body and your voice work to get you through this smoothly?’”
- “There are myriad breathing techniques for how to calm your nervous system and how to override that fight-or-flight or freeze response. You can find them in meditation, you can find them in yoga, you can find them in voicework, you can find them in singing work. The one that I love… is the four, seven, eight breath. It's super easy… You breathe in for four, suspend the breath for seven, exhale for eight.”
- “Before even thinking about how you're structuring the delivery, step one is to get your voice warm. Don't go into it cold. Shake it out. Do some lift trills, do some howling, do some humming, do some yawning and sighing, and get your voice moving. You can't just in your brain say, ‘I'm going to move my voice around.’ You have to open it up. No NBA player goes into a game cold. You don't park in the parking lot, go into the locker room, put on your uniform and start the game. You do the drills, you're with the team, you're passing, you're shooting. This is the same. Why would you not warm up your voice? Your voice is your instrument and you are a professional voice user.”
On Outliers, Daniel Scrivner explores the tactics, routines, and habits of world-class performers working at the edge—in business, investing, entertainment, and more. In each episode, he decodes what they've mastered and what they've learned along the way. Start learning from the world’s best today.