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  • It is this moment, isn't it?

  • I'm looking at you, and you look like a really nice bunch.

  • There's been such great energy.

  • I was sitting here for five minutes, and it just feels great in this room.

  • You look really friendly enough, so thank you!

  • You are looking a bit unsure in a voice coach.

  • Don't worry, it's going to be fine.

  • And I can see a couple of really brainy TED faces there.

  • There's going to be a few ideas, too.

  • But it's this moment, when eyes, our worlds, are colliding right now.

  • You are looking at me, I am looking at you,

  • and it hits my brain with the feeling of adrenaline;

  • accelerating molecules, you might say.

  • Different people deal with this moment differently.

  • Some of us go, "Hey!", you know?

  • There are people who are confident,

  • they cope with this moment totally fine.

  • Then there are other people not so confident,

  • and it stops them from speaking this moment;

  • It makes them feel anxious, that maybe they are not up to it.

  • That is not the case.

  • Actually, all of us have confidence within.

  • What I want to talk about today

  • is the idea that we can find more confidence within us

  • if we know where to look.

  • Where do we look?

  • We go within. We look under the bonnet.

  • That's where we are going next.

  • And the reason I want to talk about this is because, many years ago,

  • I stood in front of an audience this big - bigger - at Central Hall,

  • which is by the Houses of Parliament, a really big Methodist space.

  • I was super excited about that moment

  • because I knew that it was my big moment as a rookie voice coach,

  • and I was going to be able to speak.

  • I stepped up in front of that audience,

  • and what happened was everything that could possibly go wrong did.

  • I went too fast, I lost my words.

  • It felt like such a horrible experience.

  • And just as I thought it couldn't go any worse,

  • the microphone broke.

  • I looked out across the room, and I said in my big voice coach voice,

  • - there wasn't so much wind at the time, I have to say -

  • (Laughter)

  • I said in my big voice coach voice, "Can you hear me at the back?"

  • And someone said, "Speak up!"

  • I felt this feeling of absolute shame.

  • That feeling of an audience looking at you,

  • and a feeling of judgment which cripples us.

  • I left that venue, and I thought to myself, "Never again."

  • Clearly that didn't work because I am here.

  • I also thought I am going to do it differently next time.

  • I will make sure that next time I stand up to speak, it feels good.

  • Where I had to go was within.

  • We live in a really visual culture.

  • We spend a lot of time - if you think about two worlds -

  • we spend a lot of time thinking about the outside.

  • Maybe especially for women.

  • Actually, confidence doesn't exist on the outside;

  • It exists within, in the visceral stuff,

  • in the bits within you that we don't see.

  • We are going to go to those bits.

  • When I was thinking about this idea three months ago,

  • when I was asked to do it,

  • I started to feel nervous about this moment,

  • I started to think about a quote

  • the director Peter Brook had said

  • which is that we open new drawers in the self.

  • I started to think about a chest of drawers.

  • Then I came across this really cool maker

  • called George McCallum, who is actually sitting there.

  • I said to George, "Can you make me a chest of drawers?

  • And he did.

  • You might be wondering what this object is.

  • And what this object is here is what George made.

  • But when you ask a maker to make a chest of drawers,

  • they don't always do what you think they are going to do.

  • Do you want to see what he did?

  • (Laughter)

  • Yeah! Thanks George. Best response of the morning.

  • Upstaged by the furniture.

  • (Laughter)

  • Within this little chest of drawers,

  • this rather big, manly chest of drawers,

  • are three secrets to finding confidence within.

  • Three lessons I had to learn on the way.

  • There is a big lesson in here.

  • The last lesson is the big one.

  • We are going to get there, and it's not what you might think.

  • It's a lesson that might surprise you.

  • But first, would you like to see inside the first drawer?

  • (Audience) Yes!

  • CG: It's a bit delicate this; George.

  • So what we have in here is an instrument.

  • Because you just been hearing the voice is the most amazing instrument.

  • It's magnificent.

  • How often do you think about how yours works?

  • Because like this little guitar, it has a string, and it has a hitter.

  • Where is the string of your voice?

  • Can you put a hand on it?

  • Here, give it a shake; it's your larynx.

  • Ahhhhh... Can everyone do that for meeee?

  • Ahhhhh!

  • The hitter is the air.

  • When you know that your voice is an instrument,

  • what does that tell you?

  • People come to me and say,

  • "I've a bad voice," "I am not a good speaker."

  • "I get worried about this kind of moment."

  • "I hate meetings," "I hate presentations," "Can't do it."

  • The voice is an instrument.

  • There is not such thing as a bad saxophone, is there?

  • Because when we hear a great saxophonist,

  • and he is probably somewhere down here,

  • what we know is that they've practiced a lot,

  • that not only did they have talent but also they have worked,

  • and worked, and worked to get a great sound.

  • If you ever doubt the sound of your voice,

  • let me tell you all you have to do is practice.

  • When I was worrying about that moment

  • I am going to call my central hall of shame, because it was,

  • what I remembered was the story of a guy in Ancient Greece

  • called Demosthenes.

  • There's a big old name,

  • so we're going to call him the Greek dude from now on,

  • which actually is also a bit of a big word,

  • so we might just call him Dave, I think.

  • (Laughter)

  • Dave was speaking at the Assembly which is like the O2.

  • We have Simon in the room.

  • It's like the Brixton Academy of the Ancient Greek world.

  • He was feeling pretty nervous. He wanted to be an orator.

  • Orators were the rock stars of their day.

  • So he geared himself up for this big moment at the Assembly,

  • and you know what?

  • He bombed.

  • They said he was uncouth in his speaking, and that he stammered.

  • So the audience jeered at him, and they threw stuff.

  • Please don't do that today!

  • (Laughter)

  • He left that stage feeling so downcast

  • when he got a bit of advice from an actor.

  • I'm sure Greek actors were pretty much the same as they are now.

  • I am sure the actor was a bit like this, but what he said to him was,

  • "You need more expression in your voice.

  • You are not giving enough welly, enough energy.

  • You also need to believe in yourself because the message is good."

  • Demosthenes takes himself back home, and he goes for it.

  • This is his rocky moment.

  • He builds himself an underground cellar.

  • He shaves his head - half of his head -

  • so that he can't leave the house for three months

  • and then he practices for three months solid

  • in front of a big shield that is polished like a mirror.

  • When he is ready, when he is up there,

  • he goes out.

  • He goes to the sea, and he speaks over the waves.

  • His voice has to boom out over the waves.

  • Then, he goes back. He goes back to the Assembly.

  • He speaks again,

  • and he becomes known as one of the greatest orators of his day.

  • What does that tell you?

  • It tells you about practice.

  • The power of practice.

  • You may not want to shave half of your head;

  • you may not want to build an underground cellar

  • because the council may have words,

  • but what you can do is practice.

  • And the simplest way to practice is to sing.

  • You don't have to do a big, "Mamamamahh!",

  • a voice coach warm-up - unless you want to -

  • but what I really recommend is that everyday sing somewhere:

  • sing in the shower, sing in the car, sing on the tube if you feel brave.

  • (Laughter)

  • I was at St Thomas' Hospital for a blood test about two weeks ago,

  • and there were two women singing in the space

  • where the blood test was happening which was lovely.

  • So I recommend it.

  • Singing is the way to a great voice.

  • Practice is the way to a great instrument.

  • That's lesson one.

  • We have another drawer which we will open in a moment,

  • but before we get there, I've a question.

  • Say you walk into a room, OK?

  • You don't know anybody.

  • Some of you may have had that feeling this morning.

  • How do you know who the most powerful person in the room is?

  • The person with the most confidence,

  • that inner confidence that we are going for here?

  • How could you tell?

  • How they carry themselves. That's lovely, [Lola].

  • You are in the same space, aren't you?

  • Because you are a singer.

  • It is that how they carry themselves.

  • Actually, what an actor will tell you is that is about the breath.

  • The most powerful person in the room has the most relaxed breathing pattern.

  • There is a well-known scientist called Paul Eckman who looks into emotion,

  • and he said - which would make actors laugh

  • because it seems so straightforward to them

  • that maybe isn't to science -

  • that he couldn't understand why breath mattered for a long time,

  • and his research has explored it,

  • until he started to understand that the unconscious system--

  • You know I can't control my spleen.

  • It is just doing its own thing.

  • But I can control my breathing.

  • And if I get into my breathing, I get into the unconscious.

  • I calm myself down.

  • So what's within you is the key to this relaxed, confident power.

  • Actors know this

  • because when actors are playing King, the King stays really still.

  • Everybody moves around the king,

  • and that's how you know the king is in charge.

  • The next time you fell nervous about something, try that; try getting still.

  • Within your body is something that is really the king of the body.

  • It's what the Greeks called the center of all expression.

  • I bet that 50% of this room has never thought about it.

  • Would you like to see what it is?

  • Thank you, my still handsome friend.

  • We've our lungs, don't we?

  • We have this, which is probably not an anatomical representation of a heart,

  • but it is nice.

  • (Laughter)

  • But what's down here? What's this?

  • (Audience) The diaphragm?

  • CG: Thank you very much! Diaphragm. It is indeed your diaphragm.

  • Put your hands up if you have thought about the diaphragm recently.

  • Put your hands up if you thought about your diaphragm today.

  • Thank you, singers in the room; good. Or actors, or saxophonists.

  • Put your hands up if you haven't yet thought about your diaphragm today.

  • Yeah, that is quite a large percentage.

  • So we don't think about our diaphragms, do we?

  • But the diaphragm is the key to regulating your system.

  • It is how you calm yourself down

  • in that moment when you stand in front of all the eyes.

  • It will make you feel confident

  • when you most need it, and you'd least feel like it.

  • I didn't know anything about my diaphragm.

  • I'd learned about it. I knew what it was supposed to look like,

  • but I didn't know how it felt.

  • Then one day,

  • I was feeling really stressed, I was breathing up in my chest.

  • I had that kind of squeaky high-voiced adrenaline breathing up in the chest;

  • Not good.

  • I walked into a yoga class, and the yoga teacher said,

  • "You look really stressed."

  • Which is never a good start.

  • He said, "Lie down on the floor."

  • And he laid me down, I closed my eyes,

  • expecting some lovely relaxing yoga thing,

  • and suddenly, he put a gym weight on my stomach.

  • And he said, "Breathe, lift that."

  • I did. I breathed in,