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The Little Book of Speaking Up*

Not Quite What I Thought, But Good Read

I’ll admit that when I first read the title and subtitle of this book, I thought that the subject matter was going to be somewhat esoteric. I thought that the book would explore finding your voice so that you can be comfortable speaking up. I saw it as a self-help book. But it is definitely much different than that. It actually does refer to your speaking voice. After reading the introduction, where the author explains that she is a breathing coach and has enjoyed singing, it becomes clear the direction that this book is going to take.

Divided into six chapters of exercises—most of these exercises not taking long at all if done singly—the book is organized simply. Surprisingly, the author first looks at the body as a whole, not concentrating on the voice just yet. I’ll admit that I had a hard time seeing the connection of this chapter to the rest of the book, but the exercises were still interesting. The next chapter focuses on breath while the next chapter is the one that specifically focuses on speaking, song, and sound in a very physical way. The exercises here are meant to get you more in touch with the sounds of words and the sounds your vocal apparatus produces. I actually found myself jumping in; I couldn’t help but do some of the exercises as I read along. After all this focus on the self—from the whole-body perspective down to the voice—the next chapter switches to listening to others and being aware of sounds. The second-to-last chapter is a way to help you be more mindful of voice and sound throughout your day. The final chapter talks about speaking and voice under pressure, when you have to speak publically, like for a work presentation or an oral examination.

This book was not what I expected, but I still found it quite fascinating. It is an unusual subject to go into in such depth. The exercises are simple, straightforward, and definitely get you in touch with your body, your breath, your voice, and the sounds created by others and the world. It certainly offers a unique perspective. I found it to be a fun, participatory read.