Fay Putnam radiates a sense of calm, compassion and poise. Unsurprisingly, she is what may be described as a speech coach or presentation coach. But her business, Breath is the Answer, is so much more than that. Fay teaches her clients an awareness of self – of thought, voice, and movement – that then translates into a better way to communicate.
Fay’s Speech: Fay says she’s a little bit like that guy in The King’s Speech who coaches the King into better public speaking. However, Fay works mostly with business people and performers (not Kings) wishing to improve their presentation and communication skills. She helps her clients overcome issues such as performance anxiety, and teaches them to express themselves clearly and artfully. Once her clients have completed their sessions, they report a new sense of self and confidence, and a better ability to hold an audience’s attention and make an impact with their presentations or performances.
Awareness: Fay’s methods may be refreshing to someone not familiar with the Alexander Technique. This is not Speech 101 from college (a class many of us dreaded). Fay, on the other hand, uses the Alexander Technique to teach her clients a conscious awareness of how they present themselves and react to stimuli. This awareness is closely associated with breath. It seems quality and conscious breathing leads to positive changes not only in our speech, but in our physical and mental well-being.
It’s the Breath: Breathing and awareness are so crucial that Fay begins many sessions with her students on a massage table. She helps clients experience what it’s like to let go of tension, so they can use that as a reference point. She also works with clients by practicing reading exercises and body movement. She teaches her clients more than how to give a speech, but how to communicate with voice, movement and calm composure.
Fay says she’s a little bit like that guy in The King’s Speech who coaches the King into better public speaking. However, Fay works mostly with business people and performers (not Kings) wishing to improve their presentation and communication skills.
Fay Knows Breath: Fay is a great communicator herself. She was previously a professional choir singer and voice teacher. Breath and Breathing, she says, is crucial for singers, and so is the art of communication. Fay first learned about the Alexander Technique at Westminster Choir college many years ago. The Alexander Technique is not just about performance, but is also a method for self care. It teaches you how to let go of behaviors that create tension and also to improve everyday activity from the misuse of the body.
The Study of Breath: Wanting to become a better voice instructor, Fay embarked on a journey of the study of breath and breathing. She trained to become an Alexander Technique Trainer and is now a member of the American Society for the Alexander Technique (AmSAT). Then, Fay became a Disciple of Jessica Wolf. Jessica Wolf integrated the teachings of Carl Stough, who taught the art of breathing coordination, into the Alexander Technique.
The Speech Coach: Fay decided to shift her focus to coach public speaking and presentations after noticing, and experiencing, many ineffective presentations. Many business people and performers rely on presentations for their living, but are not able to present effectively or even close to their own potential. Fay has designed a series of courses/sessions to help unlock that potential, and is always astounded at the progress made after just 10 weeks. Fay especially enjoys working with women. Women, she says, have the tendency to follow through and are motivated and driven to succeed!
Fay’s Voice: Fay studied music and voice in college. She then had a successful career singing chamber music professionally and as a voice teacher. Originally from the East Coast, she sang with a choir based in New York. She toured for the Community Concert Series and did some recordings. It was on a tour that she fell in love with the West Coast, and she and her husband settled in Oakland, CA. They moved up to Portland after they fell in love with the walkability of the city’s central core, especially NW where they live and where Fay’s studio is.
Learn more about Fay, her philosophy and her business at www.breathistheanswer.com. You won’t regret it! Thanks Fay for taking the time to share with me.