Teachers Discover the Secret to Taking Charge
October 13, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News“The secret to maintaining control in the classroom is right under the teacher’s nose,” says Renee Grant-Williams, author of “Voice Power.” “It’s the teacher’s voice.”
“Speaking skills combined with an intellect and passion for teaching can firmly establish a teacher’s authority in the classroom,” says Grant-Williams, also an acclaimed coach to professional speakers, business leaders and some of the recording industry’s biggest names. “This combination will get the students’ attention, maintain control and keep things interesting.”
Grant-Williams has developed voice guidelines for educators designed to make their lives a little easier and their teaching more effective. She says establishing authority begins the first day of class. “You’re in charge,” says Grant-Williams. “Students need to hear that in your voice. When you need obedience you must make what you say a command, not a request.”
Giving a convincing command requires using a voice that is full, clear, confident and in control. This means breathing and speaking from deep within the diaphragm. By contrast, a voice that comes from the throat is whispery, thin, pinched and whiny. This kind of voice practically begs to be ignored.
“A teacher who speaks primarily from the throat sounds out-of-control and won’t be taken seriously by the class,” says Grant-Williams. “A rich, full voice projects the image that represents a teacher best and must come from deep inside. Make it a practice to record and listen to your voice to be sure you’re making the most of this resource.”
In addition to establishing control, an educator can use their voice to maintain students’ interest in the subject being discussed. One effective way to grab attention is to go early to the beginning consonants of important words and stretch them out. It’s a heads up to the students that an important point is about to be made and they need to pay attention.
“Like waiting for the other shoe to drop, stretching out the beginning consonant and delaying the rest of the word totally arrests the listener and mmm-akes them listen,” says Grant-Williams.
Another way to keep students interested is to pause before and after a crucial thought. A pause before the thought gets the class’s attention and prepares them for an unexpected idea. A pause after the thought gives the idea time to sink in. For instance, droll actress Mae West made brilliant use of a pause: “I used to be Snow White (long pause) but I drifted.”
Grant-Williams says effective teachers know that silence can be just as, if not more powerful than words. “Streams of run-on words become monotonous and practically lull a student to sleep,” says Grant-Williams. “But a sprinkling of well-placed power pauses produce the opposite effect, keeping the class on the edge of their seats and eager for more.”
Grant-Williams suggests practicing reading the class material aloud, inserting written pauses before and after key thoughts and words – wherever a good pause will emphasize or clarify what is being said. The next step is to record and listen back to see whether the pauses appear to be effective and the message clear. Grant-Williams offers more advice in her book, “Voice Power: Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade, and Command Attention” (AMACOM, New York). This book is endorsed by Paul Harvey and was selected for inclusion in the “Soundview Executive Book Summaries” program.
She coaches business executives, sales professionals and celebrities including Faith Hill, the Dixie Chicks, Linda Ronstadt, Tim McGraw, and Christina Aguilera. She presents speaking programs to organizations throughout the United States and has been quoted by
Cosmopolitan, US Weekly, TV Guide, Business Week, Southern Living, the Associated Press, UPI, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She has appeared on many broadcast outlets including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Bravo, USA, MTV, CMT, GAC, BBC, PBS, and NPR.
For more information or to schedule an interview with Renee Grant-Williams, call 615-259-4900 or visit www.MyVoiceCoach.com. 10/11/2006