ESL BREAKROOM ep.5 – Tracey Grey : Are you Underestimating Your Virtual Presence?

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About the episode

If you are communicating online these days, (and who isn’t? ), don’t miss Episode 5 of the Business Class ESL Breakroom with Virtual Communication Coach, Tracey Grey.

A professional performer (actor, singer, voice-over artist) and seasoned “Trainer’s Trainer”, Frankfurt, Germany-based Grey draws on her wealth of experience to bring us invaluable insights into optimizing our online presence. Currently in high demand for her Virtual Presence Workshops among European corporations, Tracey breaks down key elements to getting your message across in today’s Zoom-dominated business environment. Her in-depth knowledge of human communication tools: voice, expression, and movement, open up new possibilities to those of us who find ourselves suddenly limited to a screen and a microphone. 

Our delightful conversation with the very engaging Tracey covers simple tips for directing your trainees powerfully, utilizing your precious screen real-estate more effectively, and delivering your message like a pro thanks to behind-the-scenes relaxation techniques your co-workers, trainees, and business partners will never even see!The tips we’ll learn are sure to translate to improved training sessions, and more powerful connections with both learners, and business contacts alike. Join us for this enlightening episode. You’ll be so glad you did! Because, as Tracey says, “nobody should underestimate their virtual presence. In the next decade it will be in demand.” 

For more information on Tracey and her workshops, visit www.traceygrey.com

Transcription

hi welcome to the business class esl break room we’re a company of passionate language trainers and coaches we’re here to share ideas to improve our skills and strengthen the training community come in for some inspiration leave with tips to apply to your sessions today [Music] hi our guest today on the business class esl break room is tracy gray and i can assure you we are in for a treat if you go to traceygray.com you will see she is an actor a performer a communication coach and i can testify to all that and more we met as fellow business esl trainers in germany once upon a time and i’m pleased to use the word that many have and do use to describe her a doer i’ve seen tracy lead jazz bands start businesses and organize extraordinary happenings but today we’re calling upon our unique skills as a vocal coach and communication coach tracy actively coaches corporations around europe including france in presenting themselves and has been in strong demand since the pandemic so who better to give us language trainers some pointers on how to be more effective in front of our tracy trainees welcome tracy thanks sue nice to see you and speak to you today if it is across the internet i hope the sun is shining uh in your city here in frankfurt we have beautiful blue skies even if it’s only minus four oh we’re jealous we’ve got gray as usual here yeah change of goblin skies um but the cold weather i i noticed coming um here today is keeping everyone indoors where of course they are no doubt as you and i um in front of a screen trying to go about their daily daily life as it now is exactly and that is why we’ve asked you here because we all find ourselves in front of a screen long days long days yeah yeah it’s um a completely new world uh one that i i have to admit it i am i rejected it so when we went into the first lockdown i re and the talk was of doing this online and that online i said no no no no i’m not doing that i’m not just no no i’m not doing that i’m going to wait i’ll just wait it’ll be over soon uh it didn’t take long it took until about june may even before my clients were knocking at my door saying so we’re working on teams we’re working on webex we’re working on zoom can we can we hook up and i had to get over this yeah this objection within myself and do it and uh to be honest this really shouldn’t have been such a big thing i’m trained as an actress i’ve been in front of a camera a lot in my life um the hardest part for me was i coach and train on a very individual level i like to adapt and sway the core of what i’m coaching to the individual situation of the coachee and i couldn’t see how that could work if we weren’t in the room together mm-hmm you can see that so yeah that was the first thing i had to get over and then um work out how to do that and for me the big discovery there was um what i’m now calling i guess um virtual presence virtual presence yeah the sound of that like my discovery um which uh was yeah came out of this this having to jump over my own shadow so um when i then joined my clients online um i realized very quickly that although we had some goals for the coaching um what was much more needed was the ability to be present in this little window that we see each other in um some of my clients if i had a group had a company some of them had the cameras off um some of them had them on but you know you’re looking at the ceiling and you’re seeing top of the heads um there was no thought to how they sounded and how they looked and i i very quickly went back to them and said look maybe we need to adjust the goals right now um and work on this first because if this is how you guys are doing business i don’t see this as as as positive for your company none of you would want to appear like this in a meeting room why is it okay to do it because we’re online it’s almost like especially at the beginning everyone was was like um well this is new nobody’s very good at it we expect it to break down and so it was almost okay to be bad at it well it’s now 2021 we’re all still at home and beyond 2021 we’re all still going to be home because even if we can go to the office this is not going away we’re going to be doing a lot more communication in this in this way and so we need to be good at it because i it’s not it’s not a new thing to say communication is 60 tone of voice and body language these are statistics that we’ve known for years well body language is now extremely limited because we have the screen and we only see a certain amount of our bodies and um then we have tone of voice so suddenly this element has been magnified it’s so much more important this is the last frontier it’s the last frontier and still people are only really focused on what they’re saying and yeah i’m experiencing um conflicts within some of my clients companies because literally somebody has said something in a meeting often camera off without thinking about what they’re communicating maybe they thought about what they said but they didn’t think about what they actually transmitted in the communication and so that awareness needs to grow um and of course if you’re a trainer every instruction you give needs to have that awareness um when we say something we we need to speak with purpose that’s basically clear we need to think purpose every time we say something um this is what a this is what an actor does you know when we want to move the audience to feel something or think something or even just to believe that those lines belong to them if we have the line um i don’t know we just want to say i was hungry how about that i was hungry if we’re going to say it in order to persuade someone to feed us or convince someone that was the reason why i did something or to encourage them to eat with me or motivate them to cook or just make the announcement that i’m hungry or you want to blame someone that because you’re hungry or excuse yourself because you’re hungry or defend yourself every one of those purposes for communication will change the tone of your voice you’re really clear on what your purpose is so i don’t need to coach people on how to change their voice to sound like they’re defending themselves or sound like they’re motivating someone if you’re clear in your mind what your purpose is that’s what will come out hmm and taking notes these are great nuggets and so uh too often um i say we we as coaches we as colleagues we as parents we as people we start talking before we are aware of our purpose for the communication and this is obviously not only useful in avoiding conflict and misunderstanding um george bernard shaw famously said back then the biggest single problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place um this not only helps in that instance but of course it is so much more effective if we’re coaching online if we’re training somebody online the coachee understanding what it is they want us to do quickly helps with the energy that gets lost in this online communication we can’t sit in a room with someone we can sit in i can coach for three hours in a room i can’t do that online yeah the budget has to be far more effective i had to pick my words keep it concise and be purposeful in the way i say something that way i say time to coach talking time of course goes down energy goes down and it’s used to communicate something and we can get on with what it is i want the coachee to understand or to to to do um and it just it’s just simpler the stress levels are lower and there’s more time for something else which is silence also do not allow um willingly in the room and again i’m talking now about the virtual room and the real room there’s a it’s the scariest thing to do is to allow silence to exist because oh my gosh anything could happen in that silence yeah and yeah and there’s there’s an anxiety but if you allow silence if you allow room for reflection and and sensing you’ll get so much more from your coaches because it gives them the space to give you something back that is beautiful and absolutely mirrors what i’ve been learning and developing and training and learning a new form of coaching language neural language training but it’s all about the silence is very powerful and if we’re brave enough to allow for it absolutely the learners need to think and yeah yeah yeah often in the classroom again sometimes just to fill the silence and make it make us appear more dynamic and motivating we’ll explain something possibly three to four different times using different language to try and reach different people in the way they receive messages or the way they they um they understand you which can’t obviously has its merits um if you only have a short amount of time you only have 40 minutes online um if if the teacher is going to spend that much time explaining or communicating something the actual site time for production for the student to achieve something is seriously limited so you’re reducing the quality of your coaching enormously i do often script what i want to use and what i want to say i do that by speaking it so i record myself just on my phone oh great idea just record myself on my phone listen back how did that sound if i just got that instruction how did that sound could i be much more efficient with my words um does it sound like i’m trying to convince them because that’s my purpose i want to convince them that this is the next so often the work i do because it’s voice it requires a lot of courage some of the things i ask people to do it puts them outside but that’s of course where progress happens right and so quite often i’m i the purpose of my instruction is to encourage and motivate them to try something and this is this is a problem then i might use too much language to try and make it sound fun and and before i know it i’ve been talking 10 minutes and they haven’t even started the exercise and there’s a great parallel to language learning because people get nervous and shameful for trying yeah nouns that sound funny to them it’s the same idea exactly now what i’ve noticed with the online coaching there’s a big bonus microphones microphones can go on and off cameras can go on and off obviously it’s much more effective if cameras are on and we have the visual but if i’m going to ask a coachee of mine to do something that is going to maybe make them feel a little uncomfortable because i’m going to ask them to do something big with their voice or something they wouldn’t normally do with their voice something maybe that might make them feel like they’re being childish or stupid great everybody’s got their microphones off and actually the courage levels have grown and it’s wonderful and so i try to make the uh instruction simple and clear i’d like you to all say the text that i’ve given you i’ve given everyone three sentences and i would like you to say it in a voice as high as you can give it a go and just with my my voice and and my face which is the only thing they’ve got really really try to encourage them to do it now if i was in the room i would probably say give it a go no really it’s fine it’s going to be so much fun and i would say other motivating things there’s no time or space for that and sometimes i can see they’re trying it and sometimes they’re not um then to make them feel like i’m not watching them i will often actually stand away from my camera i can see them but they don’t see me different to me turning off my camera they know i’m there but they don’t feel like they’re being watched these are fantastic tips so i’ll move out of the screen i can still see them all on my screen i can watch them and observe and then so that they really don’t feel like they’re being watched my keyboard or someone else and i’ll write in the chat what the next exercise is and i can watch them move to the next exercise but they don’t feel observed they don’t feel they feel like they’ve got the space again the silence and the space to try this out for themselves and then uh maybe i’ll write another one in the chat and then you can see them reading it and then they’re trying it and we’ll be so much more into production rather than me giving instructions and instructions and instructions um and then of course i’ll say okay so anybody have anything to share regarding what what happened there yeah depending on the size of the room if i have 20 people in the room i’ll ask people to write a word in the chat mm-hmm if i’ve got eight people in the room i’ll i’ll ask someone to share how they felt and uh and yeah it’s it’s just uh this this presence so the voice is really instrumental in that encouragement um now if we’re in a meeting situation and we’re encouraging people to speak english in a business situation it’s the same um we don’t need a lot of words to say what we want to say we can use quite simple language but again if we’re purposeful in what we want to communicate like i said we’ll go back to i’m i was hungry if if we’re purposeful in knowing what we want to say you’ll find that people’s intonation actually is then more correct than if they just focus on the words and say the words now when we’re teaching language although i don’t do that as much i do a lot of pronunciation coaching of course rhythm of language is a massive part of being able to understand someone absolutely and right but if if you actually encourage your coachee to think about why they’re saying the word what is it they want to communicate you’ll find 50 50 increase and improvement in their intonation and rhythm of language immediately really it’s an illegal side effect of that there’s there’s just a way we use our voice if we want to communicate something specific if you ask someone to say that say that as if you’re trying to defend some yourself and suddenly they’ll use the right intonation and then they’ll realize maybe that they said it differently to the way they said it before and then there’s a moment of reflection for self-correction and you didn’t have to say anything and and do you find this if i may ask even with people who kind of still have the pronunciation wrong i mean yeah because i mean i’ve got two two clients at the moment and it’s purely pronunciation right and of course they’re here in germany and we’re working massively on the w’s and the v’s and the th’s and the common errors and um those are tidying up and now what i’m hearing much more is the emphasis on the wrong part of the word however if i get them to say a whole sentence where their purpose is clear they are still easier to understand even if on one word or the other the intonation isn’t quite right the flow of the phrase and the whole sentence is clearer oh wow and suddenly they’re easier to understand oh my goodness but i have to get them away from thinking about what they’re saying and into why they’re saying it the why that’s sad why it is it’s purposeful speaking and whether it’s in your own language or in a foreign language if we just remind our our coachees that it doesn’t yeah get them to do it in their own language as well they’ll be far more um more effective and just to support that that little um moment and actually my my favorite quote of all which i have on i think on the footnote of all my emails is from maya angelou who wrote words mean more than is set down on paper it takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning now you can take that as something deep and literary but um uh every little interaction we have whether you’re asking someone if they would like a cup of tea or um i don’t know the sentence like you didn’t make tea then you didn’t make t then can sound with the wrong nuance like an accusation absolutely yeah yeah um but it could be just oh well you didn’t have time yeah but if your purpose isn’t clear it’s going to sound because of the structure of that language it’s going to sound like an accusation right and these little moments are happening a lot um and we have to just be more mindful we’ll be far more efficient and effective as coaches and of course we’re modeling then that for our coachees yes if i can just recap i love a couple of things you’ve said everything but one thing where you gave the example of just a simple give it a go rather than a big long yeah just give it a go give it a go and then give and then give them space and one or two people will get on with it and one or two people will procrastinate or need to take a breath or two that’s okay everyone’s got their own tempo um it’s just much harder to feel that across the screen than when you’re in the room and this is what i needed then to to sense and work out but i first needed to teach my coaches more about their own virtual presence in order for us to communicate well and and that was also a little bit about thinking about tempo of speech um i’ve got a lot of i do obviously i’ve got my voice activator it’s about resonance it’s about tempo um good articulation the thing that’s missing with most people with the online um communication is energy in the voice oh my goodness everyone sounds tired and they probably are but everyone sounds tired and um so i have all these exercises that i do when i’m city i like to stand and coach even online but if i’m seated as i am now i will do little knee lifts oh or rock my feet if my feet are on the floor rock from my heels to my toes back lift my lift my toes and then lift my heels and just keep that rhythm going while you’re talking and what it does is it activates just some small muscles in the lower abdominal and also helps circulation and air flow excuse me it helps circulation and it helps the air flow and just imagine that when you breathe in your air actually falls all the way down to your feet it doesn’t stop here doesn’t even stop in the bottom of your lungs actually flows down into your legs and you have to do this in order to pump it back up again and actually you’ll find that muscles in your legs start to to work if you just keep doing it i i’ve got so many companies in frankfurt where i know clients are doing this under the table when they’re in meetings fantastic but it also releases um stress and tension in other parts of the body because it takes your mind away from it it’s almost like a little meditative rocking in your feet nobody can see you do it under the table so you’re seated and you’re just rolling from the ball of your foot so the heel to the ball and the back yeah lift the heel lift the toes lift the heel lift the toes it’s not only good for for circulation in the legs but actually if you do it while you’re talking you find slowly that it releases tension that you’re holding because we hold tension in the most ridiculous places while we’re have you ever noticed how you hold your knees when you clean your teeth why do we do that yeah and so when we’re communicating especially if there’s an element of um i don’t want to say stress but yeah stress because you want to achieve something with that communication we’ll start holding tensions in places and the other one i do is actually to do little figures of eight with your hands now this is really good online because of course you can take them down below the camera yeah and nobody can see you doing it yeah but if you are able to actually keep breathing while you do that with your hands and you’ll find that after a while if you can get a rhythm going your breath and your voice starts to follow the rhythm of your hands and it’s a bit uh and all the energy excess energy that you have just flows out through your fingers so it’s a little bit like some people have fidget balls or you know little length you see people wobbling their knee because they need some kind of movement in their body yeah this way you take that movement into your own control you control that movement and it’s got a really meditative um soothing effect that also then allows the body to send any stress it has or tension it has into that part of the body that’s moving and can leave you so this is something you do for yourself when you are the trainer but also would you recommend that your trainees do this for themselves if they’re absolutely i teach it to my trainees but i do it too that’s a wonderful thing to bring to your trainees because and it’s a lovely way of distracting if you’ve got someone who’s nervous um say look i want you to do do this while you’re while you’re speaking yeah and the purpose of this exercise is that you do not stop moving your hands so this is this is what i want you to focus on is your hands now give me the text and it’s incredible because suddenly the focus on the text and whether it’s right leaves and the language flows because they’re dancing with their hands so if they have a presentation or a sort of introduction or a difficult conversation to prepare for they can yeah absolutely just fabulous wow i’ve got much more physical ones as well um which involves a spinal rotation uh that you can do seated or standing and uh and this is part of my what i call my toilet exercises so if i’m preparing someone to do um a speech or speak at a meeting um whenever i start with someone they i always say so what do you normally do before you speak in front of people they say oh i always go to the toilet into the bathroom so i said great so dare i ask what you do when you’re there but you know i i speak into the mirror and and um i prepare myself yeah but what else do you do to prepare yourself so i prepared uh i’ve got this routine of i’ve got six different exercises for the for the bathroom for the business speaker in their bathroom and depending on what their needs are i will give my coaches three exercises to do in the bathroom so that when they again when they go to the bathroom i’m sure they also need to go to the bathroom um but they can actually in that little cubicle without anybody knowing do some exercises that really will help prepare them mind body and voice fabulous those are those are great great ideas and there are often things things like this yeah yeah like the face usually something that releases the breath voices breath breath is voiced i keep coming back to the breath and i yeah we keep going up to the breath yeah trainers we as trainers don’t think about it much i personally i think about it because i hear about it in meditation and my personal interests but as a trainer you don’t often hear someone telling you okay what’s happening with breath as you train the um the most effective uh uh trick i have with um actually i have to say with male coaches is um what i call the tom jones i’ve got the tom jones and the shakira and for men the tom jones works which is basically um that they imagine they are doing a little hula hoop so it’s it’s literally just um while they’re talking mm-hmm to swivel their hips okay like they’re playing with the hoop not every man is able to do this because they’re quite stiff so first you’ve got to practice going in different directions so but the nice thing about this is if you do this it doesn’t matter you do this online yeah they don’t have to even show themselves yeah it causes first it causes laughter yes which is nothing better than that for relaxing everyone and then if you ask them all to do the text again while focusing on keeping the movement going it’s very difficult to keep a movement going while you’re talking you if i watch anyone i ask them to to continue a movement their focus goes back to what they’re saying they can’t keep the movement going yeah and this is this is a blockage if it was everything was flowing and the breath was flowing then the movement really shouldn’t be a problem you know i know that my students are good with their language and good with what they’re saying when they can keep a simple movement going while talking to me now this of course has an impact on how they present themselves physically because that means their body is relaxed and gestures become natural and authentic as well the effect of the hips is amazing um nearly everyone has a change in pitch in their voice when they’re tense nervous about talking women tend to go even higher than men but men also tend to their voices get thinner when they do this hip swivel suddenly the blower residences re return their breath falls back into their lower abdomen and you get these wonderful booming voices come out and uh and and often i mean i try as much as i can to record uh students with or without them knowing i do tell them at the beginning of the coaching that i will record them sometimes without them knowing but that’s just just so i can really show them because the moment they know i’m recording yes the exercise is out the window yeah it’s performance time and but sometimes with this exercise the coach who hears it themselves can hear the difference in their voice and the idea then is uh to keep using this exercise you can do a figure of eight with your hips you can do circles circles and figures of eights with any part of the body is is wonderful it’s just it’s eternal hence the shakira well yeah that’s then that’s harder because that’s then the rib cage ah okay that’s good it’s a little bit more skill yeah but it’s great for releasing the tension uh between the shoulder blades which is where a lot of us have have that too absolutely um but i i’ve i’ve helped many people with the the hip thing of course you cannot stand in front of a group of people swiveling your hips well you can that communicates something very different but to take it away all you need to do is if before they talk bathroom exercise go to the bathroom do it with you swiftly your hips and then take the muscle memory of doing it into your situation where you have to talk and just remember that feeling and the muscles and what happens is the body then starts to do it but on a minute level you can just just feel the movement it’s not visible to the eye but you can feel that little rotation in your in your lower spine but it’s more so small no one can can can see it but you can feel it you know it’s there and it still has that effect of releasing the muscles and the tension amazing and thus releasing the language skill exactly again releasing the language skill yeah and let it flow to so often when people come to me with language or vocal problems there is no problem there’s a blockage somewhere else right right yeah that’s it and so again giving the space for that is really valuable you can you can unlock um yeah the potential of your of yourself and your coaches really fast and there’s nothing more encouraging for a coachee when the coach themselves will admit i need to do this too this is how i do it for me yeah admit that you also you’re not you’re not the expert you’re not the guru but you’ve overcome these problems and this is how you overcome it now i’m sharing that with you there’s nothing more motivating than that amazing yeah may i ask maybe specifically about issues of confidence i mean this is all broadly in confidence as well but we ever had anybody who’s just so timid or so intimidated um what do you recommend in this case is it’s probably the most common reason people come to me for coaching right and that’s sometimes native speakers yeah or i’m t or i am teaching in french or german their target language is also their native language it’s purely um anxiety of speaking in front of people of course that grows when it’s a foreign language right um even even more we don’t have yeah that confidence um i’m going to take us back to breath yeah yeah breath is always the way if if there’s if there’s a tension you can’t breathe the breath can’t flow which means you also can’t think and then when you can’t think you then lose what it was you want to say and then you’re that’s the reason you’re terrified in the first place right right yeah so it’s just yeah it’s that um of course there are people who have lack of confidence about their their their pronunciation and whether they’ll be understood again i go back to speak with purpose and again they hear themselves the difference so um [Music] the only way to overcome fear the only way to overcome fear is is practice yeah you have to find a platform and a way where you can practice talking in front of people it’s the only way you can rehearse with a coach all you like and you can breathe all you like can have wonderful breathing but until you put it under the stress test and i’ve got a couple of stress tests that i can do in class but um at the end of the day you have to then do it in front of people and and experience not it not going wrong it’s or or experience it going wrong and overcoming it that’s key you’ve got you’ve that’s more it because things always go wrong yeah of course your audience doesn’t know what was right so there’s a very high chance that if something went wrong your audience didn’t even notice it right yeah they don’t know what the script is only you know that something went wrong they think it was great so experiencing that and having that feedback and i always recommend um then really small things so having to speak for two to three minutes maybe on a meeting or present something for a couple of minutes um for one or two of my students is is a massive thing we’ll spend two hours preparing a three minute moment in a an online meeting absolutely um but once once that goes well then try to find another opportunity to put yourself in a situation where you can do that again a couple of weeks later right and try and keep a momentum and a regularity and that it is the only way and if you don’t have that in your work environment then find something like like toastmasters yes i recommend place where you can go and and practice in an environment that is supportive and gives you structure um i’ve got one client at the moment it just doesn’t work for time he’s he’s got a small child and he needs to be more at home and and with the pandemic and stuff it’s just not working for him so he started um by um he reads to his child every evening and he never done it really with any thought he just reads the child needs to be read to um and then he realized that the child doesn’t actually care too much about what the content is doesn’t actually care what language is or whether they understand it and so he started playing with his voice and doing in both english and and his native language german um texts um that meant he had to play with his voice play voices play with making it more daring and more scary or more playful and just exploring his voice to see what to do and i encouraged him to record one of the evenings and um a few weeks late he said he did it and he said it was fun a few weeks later he did one that obviously he was really proud of because he wanted to share it with me that was a big moment he wanted to share it with me um and yeah he’d then come up with an idea for um doing a um a social event at his work where they would do a radio play he’d been inspired by it and so through doing something creative he’s going to now create his own stage for overcoming his his speaking and using his voice in front of people so that is just beautiful yeah i’m so proud of him and now what our families can lead us through lead us too even exactly i have several learners that are young uh fathers as well and they talk about reading to their kids and i i do i suggested um the room on the broom or stories with good uh rhyming but i’m not if i may i’m going to use that idea and really suggest that they read aloud in english to their children yeah because the sun just thought it was funny because again the son isn’t listening to what you’re saying he’s listening to the purpose behind so you could read instruction manual to a child but in a in a mysterious voice as if the witch is going to come into the forest any minute and for them their fantasy will take them somewhere yeah and it’s it also combats that age-old problem of i don’t have time to do my progress work for english and i say well okay but if you’re going to spend time with your kid why not read with them yeah but if i may i know i’m getting it’s clean close to an hour i don’t want to use your whole afternoon but if we could go back to this idea of vocal presence and maybe do you have any either top three do’s or top three don’ts as a trainer or either mistakes you’ve seen people make that they really should be aware of or um the opposite yeah to taking taking time um i’ve also been participating in a lot of online coaching partly because the subjects maybe interested me but also to observe other coaches great idea um that’s a great that’s a tip right there register a lot of the online coaching for something completely different so something you wouldn’t normally register you can go on to do um there’s people doing play readings but there’s also people doing uh coaching for everything under the planet now that’s true yeah and um i like to observe the coaches um and and and make notes of what they do well and what they don’t do well and the thing that people are still working on is this stillness we only have this little box here yeah and within this box so to be aware of as a coach if you’re in the screen so virtual presence is a mixture of of visual and voice if you are filling a third of your screen you are present if you are feeling less than a third of your screen you are not present there is much more of your surrounding space present than you so when you’re thinking if you want to be even more present then you feel half your screen if you want to make a point now if you’re that close every move you make is magnified so if i went to have a drink now i would probably distract everyone else in the meeting because of this movement if i would like to take a cup however i can make myself less present and have a drink and it wouldn’t be as distracting to everyone in the room they’re just leaning back having taken yourself back to a maybe a quarter of your screen all of your movements will be less present so you can people say oh i i don’t want to be watched all the time in a meeting room i liken this a little bit being in a meeting room i liken a little bit more to like being in the theater when you’re in the meeting room um there’s a lot of things to look at you can look at your notes you can look at your phone most people do you look at your coffee you can look at the person speaking you can look at the presentation you can look out the window you can look at your nail beds yeah you can there’s so much you can look at and everyone is doing that focus isn’t in one place if you’re in the theater you can look at the people on stage you can look at the lights you can look at the audience you can look at the set you can look at your phone um but you can look at many other things it’s like being the meeting room now suddenly on on screen it’s like you’re captive or you feel definitely like your captive the camera tells you what to look at much more like a film you do have some control over that bring yourself in for a close-up and you are very present and your presence and what you’re communicating will be much stronger take it back to a third that’s a nice presence i’m talking to you now you can see my hands but my facial expression is very clear if i go any further back i blend into the background it’s a lovely listening position now yeah so if you want to listen and not be as present and this is a good and like i said as a coach sometimes i will just leave and stand inside so that’s three or four levels of being present on camera that we have we should mindfully be controlling the same way we would get closer and further away from the people in the room vocally tempo tempo tempo we cannot speak at the same tempo is in the room because we don’t have the other signals that people need to understand so keep it calmer keep it a little slower use silence and more than before i know we have to do this in the room but more than before check understanding [Music] leading question to make sure that the communication has taken place don’t just throw out what you want to do and say okay off you go have someone in the room or i give ask for some sign back that everyone has understood and that’s not a thumbs up that’s some kind of feedback that to repeat so can somebody tell me what i just asked you to do which practice too well what were the three key words i used in my instruction to you what are the three things you you heard me say because we don’t hear every word but which three things stuck in your mind when i just gave you the instruction what do you remember and then you know whether you’ve communicated yeah check that fabulous um vocal quality is nice to have um think about your pitch if you’re a female coach even in the room um we can sometimes be deemed as very high speakers and people say they have difficulty understanding um you can absolutely increase your chest resonances to give you a much more round voice that gives you a natural volume without pushing um great way to do this is to chew and hum at the same time [Music] and really stretch your face at the same time and do that on all different pictures just that if you do that for five minutes and put the timer on really keep doing it for five minutes you’ll feel a little light-headed actually activate breath but you’ll also feel like you’ve like you’ve had some kind of massage machine going on your chest it’ll tingle everywhere wow and immediately you’ll find your voice sits just a little lower especially if you hum just a little lower than where you think you normally speak literally a semitone lower immediately you’ll have just stretch and hum and chew and you’ve got you’ve got yourself a resonance exercise that warms up your voice for a resident resonant and natural volume on on your microphone which i could imagine would be really powerful for a woman let’s say you’re a trainer and you’ve got a lot of male energy and a lot of i don’t want to say bravado in the room or you you’re feeling a bit intimidated by some yeah and you want to go in with some power and some presence and some authority absolutely good it definitely helps when most of your clients are male [Music] the other thing um a little tip from shakespeare um vowels tend to express more emotion and consonants tend to communicate um much more the purpose so if you’re really trying to get a point of cross really aim for hitting the consonants it will also slow you down that’s another tip for immediately improving pronunciation they aim for the consonants in the sentence and that means pronounce them clearly just yeah just hit them just aim for them like all i want is a proper cup of coffee yeah yeah all all see the emotions in the all all i want i’m very emotional wow yeah all i want is much more zaklish much more to the point and direct all i want is a proper cup of coffee now if you really hit every consonant you cannot speak quickly so it’s another way of controlling tempo so depending on what it is you want to express again what’s your purpose you can actually use that as well and we could go deeper into i do something called sound scripting where if you focus on the adverbs right rather than the nouns rather than the verbs you also um communicate something to different goodness if you focus on the verbs you you give them the feeling of momentum of of of motivation and movement if you focus and stress the nouns you paint a picture if you focus on the adverbs it’s much more emotional that just sounds like so much fun but these are all different ways of developing people’s language skills in a different way to focusing on the grammar and the vocabulary and all the things we tend to focus on but i think this is so timely tracy because we are learning especially because of the situation we’re in we are so much more than language trainers and i think to keep ourselves relevant in this changing society we need to know that and to know how to harness that to stay relevant because business people need communication skills in which yes and they and right now i think they’re all a little overwhelmed with all the other things they have to adapt to and so um all i’m hearing all the time oh we need this we need this but they don’t yet have always have the time to to engage in it but as these other new processes um settle down um it will become more and more a priority very well all the better for a language trainer to be aware of that and to be we can now be honing our skills to be ready for that demand use it as your special juice yeah um to set yourself aside as something other than what people would assume is just a language right um it’s communication yeah about the whole and not just that one element it’s so much more rounded than i think when i had thought of traditional communication skills though this element of theater and voice and adds so much dimension yeah yeah this has been so enriching tracy deep deep subject it is subject of mine how can people get more of you where where would you like them to go if they are interested for their companies or for themselves if i don’t know um can communicate with me i’m contactable through my website of course um i’m also also on linkedin mm-hmm tracy g r e y g r e y that’s right um and uh yeah i’m always happy to to speak to companies i mean sometimes i’ll be honest sometimes people come to me with with a with a with a goal and i’m not their coach i know i’m not their coach but i usually know who i can forward them to so i’m i’m good to communicate with other coaches because if i know other great coaches as well then i can also offer my clients the right coach for them but i’m always happy to work with other coaches on improving their delivery or with companies who want their their communication and their performance in this this new space to be uh effective because we we still need to move forward in business we can’t just put this on on ice if we’re not effective we’re not present in this zoom space in this online space then we have no power excuse me we have no power to influence our careers to really effectively do our jobs and fulfill our roles for our companies so nobody should underestimate this this is about also our futures not just dealing with now it’s about progression it’s about development and um like i said in the next decade this skill um will be one that human resources are looking for that’s it listen up people house and trainers because i think you’re offering us real words of wisdom and tracy you do your training in english in french and in german if needed i do work in all three languages yeah i obviously i’m native speaker english my german is extremely fluent yeah now after uh 22 years of living here and working in the language and i’ve been a french speaker since i was a teenager and i work uh in french as well i have a few french clients fantastic um working both in french and in english i do find it really useful if i’m working with french speakers just the fact that i understand their language so i understand where their difficulties are coming from right because i know the rhythm and i know the pronunciation that that is is native to them which i think is probably something quite different that i can offer because i can do that in german as well and um that helps with european wide companies means i can work in for them in several different offices which is nice that’s brilliant but you have just offered us just such a wealth of information and tips and really i use the expression a lot but food for thought it really is yeah super super food for thought so i thank you and would love yeah and yeah this was this was fun thank you brilliant so all the best and thank you to have you again on the esl anytime anytime thank you bye bye thanks for joining us in the business class esl break room the podcast designed to bring business english trainers useful ideas inspiration and conversation that motivates follow us on instagram at business underscore class underscored language and subscribe to the esl break room playlist on spotify deezer or apple music for new episodes see you next time 

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Sue Nally

Sue Nally

English Trainer

American-born Certified Advanced Neurolanguage® Coach and Business English trainer.