Cynthia Burnham

Leadership Consultant – Ideas Take Flight


Q. What in your life brought you to the realization that you wanted to improve your Voice?

A. When I was in my late 30’s, I had a personal revelation around singing. I was in a situation where I had to ask myself the question, “What would you regret if it was you that had been told you had only six months to live?” I was shocked when the answer came into my heart and mind that “I want to learn to sing.” I was really terrible, but I took lessons and worked and worked (and worked!) for perhaps five years, and became if not fabulous, then at least okay. During this time, I discovered that developing a usable instrument was not just about innate talent, but also about physical, mental, and psychological focus and training. I went to my first Vocal Awareness workshop first and foremost to improve my singing.

Q. Do you recall a moment when you felt a shift, or even a break-through because of your Work with Vocal Awareness?

A. During the first workshop I attended, I decided to speak instead of sing – mostly out of fear, as I have struggled with stage fright when singing solo. When Arthur coached me I remember thinking, “Oh, he wants me to speak from the same physical and emotional place I sing!” I suddenly realized I had done all this work on my singing voice, but none at all on my speaking voice – none! – despite the fact that I speak for a living. Before I learned to sing, I had erroneously assumed (like most people) that your singing voice was what it was and that was it. I realized I’d made the same bad assumption about my speaking voice. Coincidentally, about the same time as this revelation, I co-taught a corporate Executive Presence class where I heard powerful people speak with weak voices. I had never noticed – at least not consciously – how distracting a poor voice could be, and how a powerful Voice changed not only how people appear to others, but also clearly changed how they feel about themselves. I realized that not only did I need to get my own Voice work done, but I needed to find better ways to help my clients.

Q. What has been the biggest benefit thus far from your practice of Vocal Awareness?

A. There are two biggest benefits for me, one professional and one personal. First, not too long after I completed the first level of Vocal Awareness Certification, I gave a talk, a kind of ten-minute showcase event with only the headlines. I knew I had little time to grab people’s interest and impress them. I used all the methods and practices that Arthur taught for preparation and delivery. While I know I am generally good at what I do, this time, people came up to me afterwards and told me I was “riveting” and that my short speech was “life-altering.” After only ten minutes! I also booked several clients, and several more speeches as a result, which was a much higher rate than normal.

Second, I have made amazing progress against that evil monster of stage fright and performance anxiety that has haunted my singing. I sing more freely and easily, and I am able to focus on my job and joy as a singer, as opposed to worry about who is listening.

I also am aware of feeling more dynamic, powerful, connected and centered during my own Work, spoken or sung, and I know far better how to help others move in that direction based on the techniques I have learned.