“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created.” –Brenda Ueland
I love listening to my husband. I love listening to my children. I love listening to my best friend. And when I really stop and think about it, when I listen to them I don’t hear the sound or rhythm of their voice, but I hear who they are. I can hear their heartbeat. And because I live with constantly growing and changing human beings, no day or conversation is ever the same. This brings me much amazement, wonder and joy.
This is also true when I am handed a script. First, I have to listen. Just sit there and listen to the message in the copy. Find its heartbeat, just as I do with my husband or my children or a friend. Then I can relate to it and bring my own universe to the story.
When I prepare to read copy, even familiar material that I update weekly, I owe it to my listener to sound as if we’re having the conversation for the first time–that my words and thoughts are fresh. That even though we’re picking up a conversation we’ve been having for years, what I have is new and they want it. Although my end of the conversation is recorded, I imagine that the “alternating current” is still happening—that we’re interacting–and that our dialogue will create a positive experience and get them what they need. By listening to the script beforehand, I am able to know best how to respond.
Writer and organizational consultant, Margaret Wheatley states, “Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.” Magical moments happen in my life and in my work when I remember to practice the simple and important act of just listening.
By Liz Helgesen
Premier Voice Talent and Founder of Passion Fruit Voiceovers