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Vocal Tools for Present and Engaged Communication

Mia Tagano October 11, 2021

Mia Tagano

Often when we speak of communication, we don't specifically talk about voice. What is happening when we are stumbling over our words, for instance? Why does our voice get tired, and why do we run out of breath? What is happening when we get nervous when talking? There are a variety of reasons specific to each individual, but there are things we can do to ready ourselves to speak and to course correct in the moment when we are out of vocal flow. The ten insights below are just a few that have come up in my work as a communication consultant and voice coach. They are tools meant to help you fully support your message with your whole self—voice, body, intelligence, and spirit.

  1. Don't warm up during a conversation—enter warmed up. Prepare BEFORE walking through the door, or onto the stage . . . If nothing else, start with a full body stretch and full voice yawn. Fill the room with your voice. This will open your throat and activate your voice and body.
  2. Try a subtle lean in when you speak and also when they speak; feel your weight more on the front of your feet. Press your big toe down—it's connected to your Vagus nerve and that subtle movement will help you to stay more present, calm, and in the moment.
  3. Know how you impact others during a conversation—it's not a takeover, it's an exchange. 
  4. Before you make that call or speak your speech, let your jaw relax and your face soften. Feel your weight on your feet; get ready but not rigid. 
  5. Don't let a slip-up derail your speech; simply take a breath, find your through line, and get back to the point. Stay engaged with your audience.
  6. During a challenging conversation, hold your ground (with ease) but don't hold your breath. 
  7. Allow for moments of pause to allow your points to sink in—powerful intentional pauses will make impact.
  8. Remember your experience. Speak from your place of wisdom. Trust you know what you know. Allow some space for humility.
  9. Don't change who you are depending on who you are talking to—your message, tone, or intention may shift but you stay you.
  10. Check yourself. Do you keep communication lines open or do you shut folks down at times? Unless you are looking to end a relationship, keep the lines open.


Mia Tagano is an actor, teacher, and voice coach who was seen at A.C.T. in Love and Information. Other local credits include Berkeley Rep (Macbeth), Cal Shakes (Hamlet and Nicholas Nickleby), TheatreWorks (Calligraphy and Loudest Man on Earth), and Aurora Theatre (Splendour and Bull In A China Shop). Regional credits include Tamburlaine (Shakespeare Theatre), Tantalus (Denver Center), and Snow Falling on Cedars (Hartford Stage). New York credits include Far East (Lincoln Center), 99 Histories (Cherry Lane Theater), and Song of Singapore (Capital Repertory). Abroad with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the Tantalus UK tour closing at the Barbican. A member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA since 1998, Mia received her MFA in Acting from the University of Washington.