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Own Your Voice at Spark Labs on February 9th

Own Your Voice at Spark Labs on February 9th

What: Own Your Voice with Bespoken
When: February 9th, 2016 | 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Where: Spark Labs, 833 Broadway – 2nd floor, NYC
Cost: $25 Early Bird (thru 2/2) | $35

Register Here | Spark Labs members, contact Andrea to sign up.

“You cannot think and hit at the same time.” – Yogi Berra

How did your last presentation go?  In Bespoken’s Own Your Voice* masterclass, you’ll learn practical and pro-active techniques to improve vocal command and presence when speaking in high-pressure situations. In this interactive, on-your-feet experience, you’ll receive personalized feedback to optimize your presentation style.  We’ll show you how to make the impression you intended—no matter the stakes.

What previous participants have said about our Own Your Voice masterclass:
“The most effective public speaking session that I ever attended.”
“Great presence and infectious attitude. Wish you could do this for my team at work!”

*Given the interactive format of this event attendance is limited to 20 participants.
@BespokenNY |

About Bespoken

The story of Bespoken began when two friends decided to channel years of professional theater experience into helping people be better, bolder communicators. We are inspired by the vibrant and powerful connection between speaker and audience and thrive on working with people from all backgrounds and experiences.

Leah Bonvissuto, Co-Founder Leah Bonvissuto is an award-winning theater director. Always fascinated by what makes the audience-speaker relationship unique and powerful, Leah has worked extensively outside the theater to translate performance-based techniques for non-actors of all ages and backgrounds in organizational and educational settings.

Jackie Miller, Co-Founder With over a decade of experience in New York City as a director and curator of cultural public programming, Jackie’s work is creatively driven by the relationship between audience and performer. As the Artistic Director of Only Make Believe she serves as the company’s creative lead, producing over 300 interactive theatrical performances for children in hospitals and long-term care settings each year.

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.

What it Means to Bespoken

What it Means to Bespoken

“The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice” – George Eliot.

At Bespoken, we help you get out of your head and into your body—because we believe you can’t connect the two without speaking from the heart. Last month, we gave you an inside look into our process. Read on to find out how our methodology helps people speak powerfully and purposefully through customized, on-your-feet coaching.

Our approach focuses on how to use your voice (command) and body (presence) to get what you want (intention).

We believe that everyone has an innate ability to communicate.

We believe that everyone communicates in his or her own unique way.

We do not believe that there are inherently good speakers or bad speakers.

We do believe that one bad past experience may lead you to believe you are unable to speak well in front of an audience.

We believe that the more you understand how to control your body and voice in high-pressure situations, the better you will be at communicating your story.

We teach you techniques that will show you how to gain control of your own ability to command a room in high-pressure situations.

We help you get comfortable with the discomfort that’s standing in the way of you being your best in the moments that matter most.

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!

Public Speaking Announcement: Make a Connection

Public Speaking Announcement: Make a Connection

Many people believe that actors are great liars when, in fact, the opposite is true. Actors practice — they rehearse — to one end only: to be truthful. They spend countless hours in the rehearsal room connecting the dots. Dissecting the emotional life of the play until it makes sense to them. Not in their heads but in their bones. So that when they get onstage they can connect in the most truthful and unobstructed way possible. They practice and perfect authenticity. That is what they call technique.

We believe that these techniques can help anyone be more confident when speaking in any forum (networking, interviewing, pitching, presenting). But when the stakes are high, some of us have trouble connecting not only to others but also to ourselves. Nerves, bad past experiences and racing thoughts take over and we know — in our bones — that we are not being our most authentic, best selves. And that prevents us from connecting (it’s a pretty viscious cycle) when speaking in public. So, how can we learn from actors, who have been practicing and perfecting authenticity and connection in high pressure situations for thousands of years?

The performer-audience connection is unique and powerful.  Actors know that the stage is a magnifying glass — ideas delivered through words and movement must be precise, concise and clear.  Actors train in the least realistic environment of all — the stage — where the stakes are high, the lights are hot, and hundreds of strangers are watching you. Actors tirelessly develop their muscles — voice, body and mind — so that they can speak from a place of truth, clarity and distinction and train their bodies to be open and responsive.

A8GGx78CAAMUPHFWe studied at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in a method that encourages each actor to use their unique perspective to imagine the world of the play so completely that they are not acting at all but merely existing in a set of circumstances given to them by the playwright. Stella Adler believed that drama depends on doing, not feeling; feeling is a by-product of doing. You can’t do anything with a feeling — that’s why those feelings of nervousness, anxiety and tension can only hold us back when speaking in public. Stella’s approach relied on connecting strongly to each other by way of actions and creating a connection between “I and thou,” not between “me and myself.” In other words, we develop, practice and ingrain physical, practical techniques to jumpstart a connection between ourselves, the actors, and our audience.

But here’s the thing — an actor has to do the work to manifest an emotional connection to words and feelings that aren’t his but you don’t have to do that. You feel the connection. You know the words. It’s your story. You just need to tell it better. Clarify your intention. Articulate your ideas. Shape your message. Find your voice. Harness your strengths. Get out of your own way. Make a connection. Leave an impression. Own the room. 

Host a Communication Workshop

Host a Communication Workshop

Here at Bespoken, we help people speak powerfully and purposefully through individual and small group coaching. Modeled off our one-on-one process, we offer communication workshops to organizations of all kinds.

We can create a customized internal communication workshop for your organization to give your team the tools it needs to maximize output while fostering individuality and help you build a cohesive and collaborative environment. If you’re an accelerator or incubator, we give startup founders the tools they need to articulate their vision boldly and clearly while inspiring confidence in every interaction.  In our small group workshops at co-working spaces freelancers learn how to harness their singularity while presenting themselves boldly and confidently.

Each masterclass is customized from start to finish according to the needs of your specific team.

Click here for a short video about how we work. We work one-on-one or in small groups. Click here for examples of workshops we’ve customized for industries of all kinds. Each masterclass is 2-3 hours long and can accommodate 6-10 participants at a time.

Every story is unique. Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you tell yours.

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