On Being An Amplifer

It recently occurred to me that I am an amplifier. As a voice coach for the past 25 years, I have supported people in “finding their voices,” whatever that means to them.

Many of my voice clients are doing essential and beautiful work in the world – work that matters to me.

One current client is a leader in an environmental nonprofit who is being called to become a more powerful and expressive speaker on behalf of protecting wild places.

Another — a woman health care executive — is finding ways to ensure that she speaks her truth with confidence in her large organization, especially when things get challenging. I have a special incentive to support her voice as her organization is my health care provider.

I worked this summer with a teacher who teaches English to young immigrant children. We did some work to strengthen her singing voice. Then right before school began, we co-created a little song to encourage her pupils to be brave and persistent in their learning. She plans to teach the song to the children – and if she is brave enough – to her colleagues as well.

I am also working with a rabbi on his annual High Holiday sermons. I worked with him in preparation for last year’s services and he loved having a sounding board and practice partner for these important messages.

I’ve worked with a hospice chaplain who is dedicated to helping other hospice workers take better care of themselves. Her chaplain voice – soothing and soft – doesn’t serve her as a public speaker. It tends to put people to sleep. She is learning to access a more dynamic and passionate part of her voice so her message can be heard and received in larger groups.

Many of my clients have been introverts whose gifts are being called into the world. They want to find ways to express themselves that are effective while feeling authentic to who they are.

Two of my current clients are from other countries (India and Mexico). They are finding ways to speak English more naturally and vividly in their everyday lives and work.

I’ve worked with many people in transition between jobs, careers, or times of life. By connecting to and opening up their literal voices, they often find new insights from their inner voice of wisdom and new ways of expressing their gifts.

It touches me that my work can support all of these brilliant people in doing their work better. By supporting their voices in the world, I can help things happen that I am not capable of doing myself.  What could be better?

Tell me, how do you amplify the gifts of others in your work and community?









About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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3 Responses to On Being An Amplifer

  1. Patricia Wilms says:

    This is wonderful Barbara! I’m interested and would like to hear or read the lyrics to the song for the students about being brace and persistent in their learning. We are reading a book called Grit as a school staff, and persistence is one of the attributes of one with grit. Keep up the amplification! Tricia Wilms

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Susan Bielski says:

    Hello Barbara, I really enjoy your blog and would love to emulate it; I kept up with a WordPress blog if my own for nearly a year, but then gave up because I got so much spam. I just don’t understand the technical side of things so well, and I don’t find the WordPress “help” very helpful on this subject. I would be very grateful for any suggestions you might offer as to learning how to manage WordPress. Is being spam-free only available to paying subscribers, perhaps? Thank you,

    Sue Bielski

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Hi Susan,
      I don’t get much spam on my blog — there seems to be a good filter built in. That being said, I didn’t set it up in the first place, so I don’t know how to get that filter to work. Wishing you all the best!

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