6 Ways to Explore Poetry to Help You Connect With Your Audience
Poetry is a unique and dynamic way of getting back to the vocal pathway of instinctive expression through simple, practical actions that can empower you with the ability to communicate in a way that connects with your audience. Poetry connects with your voice because it connects your head to your heart. This is key to connecting with your audience.
Great communicators have always known the elemental role of communicating is connecting with their audience.
But are great communicators born with those inherent skills, or is it necessary to practice and develop techniques?
The age-old nature versus nurture argument around trusting nature and acting by instinct as opposed to precision techniques and clear understanding to liberate hidden possibilities to learn the hard task of being true to the instinct of the moment.
The late Cicely Berry (renowned for her work as voice coach and director of the RSC) based her work on the conviction that while all is present in nature, our natural instincts have been crippled from birth by many external influences and society at large. She said: “That while there is no one right way to speak, there are a million wrong ways that constipate feeling, constrict activity, blunt expression, level out idiosyncrasy, generalise experience, and coarsen intimacy.”
So the work is about setting the voice free because life in the voice springs from emotion, and speaking is part of a whole: an expression of inner life and awakening deep experiences which are seldom evoked in everyday speech.
The voice is the means by which, in everyday life, you communicate, and through, of course, how you present yourself – while your posture, movement, dress and involuntary gesture – gives an impression of your personality, it is your voice, and the words you use that convey your precise thoughts and feelings.
Poetry in voice is an exciting way to explore moods in tone and voice to tell an emotional story and build confidence to speak in a way that connects more deeply with your audience. Poetry presents a wide range of learning opportunities to include:
- Offering examples of mastery of language and stocking the mind with images and ideas expressed in unforgettable words and phrases;
- Training and developing emotional intelligence;
- Reminding us that language is holistic and that how something is said is part of what is being said: the literal meaning of words is only part of their whole meaning, which is also expressed through tone of voice, inflection, rhythm.
5 Strategies to Help You Understand Poetry and the Poet to Enhance Communication
1. Find passages in poems that you find striking or memorable;
2. Research when the poet wrote the poem and under what circumstances;
3. Read the poem over and over; this will help you to see more in the poem than you did at first reading;
4. Try to feel the emotions behind the poem: sad, happy, exciting, anxious etc. let it sink in your mind and your heart;
5. Try reading the poem from the poet’s eye and try to pick out key lines that express the poet’s message that they’re trying to get across and put yourself in their shoes.
A wonderful example is the short excerpt below from The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde in which he poignantly contrasts the beauty and appreciation of everyday life and activities in the face of looming death:
“I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.” The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde.
Poetry goes further than connecting with your voice because it connects your head to your heart. It’s a unique and dynamic way of getting back to the vocal pathway of instinctive expression through simple, practical actions that can empower you with the ability to communicate in a way that resonates with your audience.
6 Ways to Explore Poetry to Help You Connect With Your Audience
1. Consider what mood is evoked in the poem that you find striking or memorable;
2. Consider how this is accomplished;
3. Consider the ways in which not only the meaning of words but also their sound and the poem’s rhythms help to create its mood:
4. Imagine situations in which those passages might be put to use, whether to console, encourage, taunt, flatter, or otherwise make an impact on the listener;
5. Write a short story, letter, or talk in which at least three passages can be quoted effectively to move another character or the listener/recipient;
6. Speak the words aloud, listen to the sound, like music, feel the rhythm and flow.
Remember, poetry is meant to talk about heart and feeling and uses language in an unusual way and may use unusual words. Savour this.
Thoughts and lessons in this story have been adapted from and inspired by the work of Cecily Berry.
This story was originally published on 17/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you
… The Continuing Story …
The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.
In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.
Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.
I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.
My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning.
School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.
The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.
School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time.
What is Self Directed Learning?
Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint.
Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning
You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.
How To Use Your Voice To Express and Protect Your Identity
How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively
How To Turn Your Story Into a Powerful Presentation
Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning. These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies. which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club.
That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.