How can you make your voice heard in a noisy world? I had the great pleasure a few weeks ago of chatting to the journalist and stand-up comedian Viv Groskop and Glamour editor Jo Elvin on this very question.
When Viv and Jo asked me for my top, lifetime, all star favourite voice tip I told them it was “FOFBOC”.
And it’s actually more of a body tip than a voice tip, because the more I learn about my own voice, the more I understand that the body and the breath are the most direct route to a centred, relaxed voice that allows you to truly make yourself heard – without push or stress. Those are the voices we want to listen to, because they are relaxed, and make us feel relaxed.
Because so many people have voices that push and strain and shout, voices that make you feel tired and anxious, the best thing you can do vocally is to get yourself centred, calm, present. Anything that gets you into body and breath and out of the constant ticker tape in the head will help you listen better and become more present. And when you listen better to others you will find that what you say has a relevance and ease that others are drawn to. The more stressed out the pace of life, the more this matters.
And that’s why FOFBOC is the best technique I’ve come across (thank you Dr Tamara Russell!) to get this centredness when you most need it. It helps you keep your feet on the ground – to find the groundedness essential to gravitas.
This FOFBOC (feet on floor bum on chair) exercise is a brilliantly effective practice for moments when you need to come back to a grounded, embodied presence. Try it. You can always have a little Post-it with the mysterious acronym FOFBOC on your computer screen. No one needs to know …
1. As you sit, feeling FOFBOC, feel your weight (you can do the exercise standing up, feeling just FOF.)
2. Notice that you are safe and supported. Be aware of the places you feel pressure – how the body is held and supported by the chair. It’s under the bum, the hamstrings and the feet on the floor, the arms on the armrests. Relax and drop where you feel the contact.
3. It can help to visualise that you have tree roots growing down from wherever your body is supported. Imagine that you can draw energy from the ground through your roots. If you can, engage simply with the feelings in your body. Feel the downward weight of your body, your roots, and then the opposing thrust up, your wings – the opposing forces so key to gravity.
4. Noticing the gentle expansion and contraction of your breathing can be useful.
This exercise is something you can do whenever you have a quiet moment. If you can do it for five minutes that’s great, but even thirty seconds will help you ground.
To find out more you can listen to Mint Velvet’s ‘We are Women’ podcast episode here (it also features Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who reveals her trade secrets and top tips).