one-on-one speaker coaching

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We are Bespoken

We are Bespoken

We’ve walked you through our process. We’ve shared our methodology. In the final part of the series, find out how we use acting techniques to help you own the room and speak with confidence and conviction.

There is a common misconception that the best actors have perfected lying or pretending when actually the opposite is true. Actors train for years to learn how to be truthful in the most unrealistic environment of all–the stage: stakes are high, lights are bright and there are strangers watching their every move.

Actors learn how to speak from a place of truth, clarity and distinction and develop their bodies to be open and responsive. Actors know that the stage acts as a magnifying glass: their words and gestures and the ideas they share must be clear–otherwise, they risk detracting from the story and confusing their audience. Actors spend countless hours in the rehearsal room dissecting the choices they will make onstage in order to consistently connect to the truth of each moment in the play, no matter what is thrown their way. This is called technique.

We believe that these technical skills can be taught to anyone speaking to an audience of any kind.

We trained at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in a method that encourages each actor to use their unique vision to imagine the world of the play so completely that they are not acting at all but merely existing in a set of given circumstances defined by the playwright. Stella Adler believed that the growth of the actor is synonymous with the growth of the human being: “The play is not in the words, it’s in you.” Stella also believed that drama depends on doing, not feeling; feeling is a by-product of doing. Her approach to acting depends on connecting strongly to each other by way of actions and creating dramatic events that take place between “I and thou,” not between “me and myself.”

Like Stella, we believe that you are at the center of your most passionate ideas and that it is essential to optimize your unique perspective in order to connect with your audience. This cannot come through “feeling” but instead must come through doing; physically implementing active tools for communicating effectively.

In addition to training at Stella Adler, we have trained in a wide range of performance techniques—Commedia dell‘arte, Shakespearean performance, clowning, Viewpoints, improvisation, voice and speech and many forms of movement–each aimed at stripping away destructive habits and improving physical awareness in order to engage an audience. We thrive on working with people from all backgrounds and experiences, adapting techniques and tools to fit each person.

At Bespoken, we believe that great public speakers are made, not born. Get in touch to find out how we can help you tell your story and speak from the heart.

How to Bespoken

How to Bespoken

At Bespoken, we help people across all industries speak powerfully, particularly in high-pressure situations. Our work is interactive and collaborative, but also highly personalized, which can make describing what we do challenging. We’re excited to be tackling the art of making human connection–possibly the most gratifying experience there is–and each connection we forge teaches us more about the work ourselves. In the first part of this series, we describe our process in order to give you an inside look into the way we work.

Our Mission

We help you speak powerfully and purposefully through customized coaching designed to harness your unique ability to communicate in any situation. We believe everyone has an innate ability to communicate when given the tools to do so. We employ proactive and practical theater techniques to help you optimize the connection you make with your audience and to give you more control over the impression you make.

Our Clients

We work across many different industries but our clients have one thing in common–they each have something to communicate in a verbal context, whether that’s presenting, pitching, networking, interviewing, etc. We help them be better communicators internally with colleagues and externally with clients.

We’ve worked with entrepreneurs looking to hone a presentation; filmmakers pitching a grant maker for additional funds to finish a project; executive directors looking to improve leadership and communication skills; members of the healthcare sector  imparting sensitive information telephonically; and freelancers at a co-working space seeking tips for networking in high-pressure situations.

Our Structure

When working one-on-one, we meet over multiple sessions to identify and hone a specific communication challenge. Goals are usually achieved in three-to-five 1-hour sessions.

In our masterclasses, a small group (i.e., freelancers at a co-working space) gets a Bespoken primer. Masterclasses usually run 1.5-to-3 hours and can accommodate up to 12 participants. We also collaborate with organizations to meet their specific needs through customized internal workshops.

Host a masterclass at your organization
Host a masterclass at your organization

Regardless of the structure, you leave with a conversational narrative that’s authentic, tools to help you relax when speaking in front of a crowd, control over the way you present yourself, confidence in your communication style and command of your vocal and physical choices. We help you articulate your unique perspective. We help you find your literal and metaphorical voice. We give you more control over the way you present yourself and your ideas. We teach you how to be your best self in the moments that matter most.

Our Process

At Bespoken, we first help you dissect, organize and shape your ideas. We then train you to make powerful verbal and physical choices to support those ideas and together we develop and ingrain personalized techniques, tips and tricks to help you commit to those choices in high-pressure situations.

We begin with an intake meeting to discuss challenges, goals and logistics and to make sure the process and purpose of the work is understood. Guided by the fundamental creative process of making theater, we work through three phases:

  1. Craft It – Together, we identify the audience and craft a distinctive message that articulates your vision.
  2. Work It – On your feet, you learn how to use your voice and body to engage your audience.
  3. Own It – Through rehearsal and situational role-play, techniques are refined and ingrained.

Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you own the room, speak from the heart and free your mind!

What makes a great leader? It has something to do with a unique ability to see the world outside of yourself — to seek feedback, collaborate with those around you and see the bigger picture. Molly Reynolds is a great leader — we first met Molly when Bespoken co-founder Leah Bonvissuto directed a reading of her musical in NYMF. She is sharp, super smart, and a truly genuine voice. We were thrilled to contribute our tips on how great leaders own the room to this article Molly wrote on Here’s our tips for beating nerves and owning the room when speaking in public:

Do some self-sleuthing

Identify what makes your leadership style unique and acknowledge what throws you off your game: are you confident in front of large crowds, but shrink in front of smaller groups? Dissect negative past experiences as well as positive ones–take notes, dig for clues and seek feedback from trusted sources.

Embrace your #onlyness

What is that thing that only you can bring to the table? Flesh out not only why you do what you do, but also what you do differently than anyone else. Create a shortlist of words to pull from on-the-go that authentically represent your vision.

Find your voice

Anyone can learn to speak powerfully and purposefully–actors have been practicing how to speak with clarity and distinction for thousands of years. Take a class or work with a coach to learn how to be open and responsive, especially when the stakes are high.

Go back to your roots

Combat nerves in the moment by breathing deep and focusing on the physical–especially your feet. Your shoes should make you feel grounded. If those ballet flats aren’t making you feel powerful it might be time for some retail market research!

Embrace discomfort

Seek out opportunities to practice being uncomfortable–think of it as a muscle. Rehearse your speech while maintaining direct eye contact with a trusted friend. It may feel scary at first (so start small and in a safe environment!) but with practice and patience you can improve your discomfort tolerance.

And speaking of practice…

If you only run through it in hushed tones in your office, imagine how different it will feel when you need to fill that 500-seat hall. Seize any opportunity to practice full out (or in the actual space if possible) to minimize the unexpected and unfamiliar.

Keep it conversational

No one can follow your lead if they don’t know where you’re going. Establish communication that is direct, clear and compassionate. Even presentations can be framed in a conversational tone.

Seek feedback constantly

Understand the impression you’re making. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. Asking “Is that clear?” for example, will show that you are open and proactive, and it will make your team feel validated and heard.

Connect with your audience

Picture someone who will be in the room and think: How do I want to make them feel? The simple act of putting yourself in their shoes takes you out of your own head and into the space around you, helping you form more meaningful connections.

A matter of time

Owning the room doesn’t come easy or overnight. Be patient with yourself and practice in a safe space to build your confidence before venturing into the outside world.

Emily May at TED

With the warmer weather comes an uptick in our least favorite type of communication out there — the catcall. Luckily, the world has Emily May, founder of Hollaback! We had the pleasure of coaching Emily as she prepared for her talk at TEDCity2.0. Hear Emily’s story on how she started a movement to end street harassment worldwide.

How to Tell Your Story

How to Tell Your Story

We all have stories to tell. Through the things we create, the interactions we have, the choices we make. Our stories are important — but what happens when we get in the way of telling those stories?

In theater, it is an actor’s job to be emotionally invested in telling a story that is not their own. But you don’t have to do that — the ideas are your own, and you’re already super passionate about them.

When you’re emotionally invested, you can’t be objective. It’s not your job. Your passion is what drives you, and that’s a good thing. It makes you better and it makes you the only person who can do what you do. But that’s the conundrum. How can you get out of your own way when telling your own story? How can you see how you present yourself and your ideas objectively while staying emotionally invested?

Theater directors didn’t exist 150 years ago. The first directors were actors who understood that an outside eye — a trusted partner in telling the story — could give them the objective direction they needed to get out of their own way, to see the story objectively. Actors began to rehearse — to practice — in front of directors and directors would make them aware of behaviors they themselves could not judge. How could they? They were too inside of it. It wasn’t their job to judge. It was their job to connect the ideas of the story to the passion inside of them and deliver that story efficiently and clearly to an audience.

And that’s your job — to present who you are and what you do authentically, uniquely and directly. We’re here to be your outside eye, your partner in telling your story. Let us know how we can help you tell your story! 

Bespoken is Here

Bespoken is Here

We are thrilled to announce the official launch of our new company, Bespoken!

Just over a year ago, we first sat down to discuss an idea for a company that would enable us to use our theater experience to help creatives, entrepreneurs, small business owners — anyone with an idea and a passion — speak authentically, comfortably and confidently in front of an audience.

We’ve spent a lot of time over the past 12 months discussing what makes the audience-speaker connection uniquely powerful. We found ourselves inspired by the idea of the individual, that one person possesses the ability to command an audience of 5 or 500.

Through one-on-one coaching and workshops in small group settings, we help speakers organize and shape their ideas and teach them to use their voice and body to engage an audience of any size when networking, pitching or presenting.

We’re passionate about helping people find new perspective and confidence by fostering what makes them capable of telling their story in a way no one else can.

Please take a moment to visit our website, follow us on Twitter, spread the word to your network or contact us for a free consultation.

Our deepest thanks to all of our friends and colleagues who have provided us with invaluable advice, guidance, and support as we journeyed to this point – your faith in our new venture means the world to us.

Here we go!

Jackie & Leah