The Empowered Voice With Stephanie Bonte-Lebair – Episode 27

Stephanie is a classically-trained singer turned voice, presentation and sales coach. She moved to New York City and performed in operas, musicals and cabaret before creating her business, The Empowered Voice. For over 20 years, she has helped singers, speakers and business professionals leverage their voice for more influence, authentic connections, and increased sales.

She is an award-winning Certified Trainer of the B.A.N.K. methodology (#1 Trainer in 2020), which uses personality science to help you dramatically increase sales. She is also the founder of Empowered Business Networking, a virtual networking mastermind that helps entrepreneurs know what to say and how to say it when they network and speak. Whether performing on stages or speaking in the boardroom, Stephanie’s mission is to help people be the voice of their passions.

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0:03 My guest today is Stephanie Bonte-Lebair. Stephanie is a classically trained singer turned voice presentation and sales coach. She moved to New York City and performed and operas, musicals and cabaret before creating her business, the Empowered voice. For over 20 years, she has helped singers, speakers and business professionals leverage their voice for more influence authentic connections and increase sales. She is also the founder of empowered business networking, a virtual networking mastermind that helps entrepreneurs know what to say and how to say it when they network and speak where they’re performing on stages or speaking in the boardroom. Stephanie’s mission is to help people be the voice of their passions. Thank you for joining us, Stephanie.

0:49 Thanks for having me.

0:51 And Stephanie is a classically trained singer, who now works with entrepreneurs tell us how did this evolve into such an interesting pivot for you?

1:02 Well, I’ve always loved to sing ever since I can remember ever since I was tiny, tiny, like three years old. And I never questioned that I wanted to go to college and be a music major. And I was a vocal performance major. And I received all the degrees that singers receive got my masters of vocal performance and a minor in speech pathology. And I moved to New York City after graduate school to audition for shows and sang and I had a job in midtown Manhattan to pay my bills. And I loved singing. And I always as a side gig was teaching other singers. So I had a studio I was teaching voice to other younger people and other adults. And I ended up moving to Maryland when I married my husband. So the first sort of shift that needed to happen is I was pulled away from New York City to start a family with my husband. And I remember a friend of mine said, why you don’t come with me to a business networking event. And I was like, well, what is a business networking event. And she brought me to this beautiful country club where there were 100 people in the room, all these business owners, they were trading business cards and talking about themselves. And I was fascinated. I’ve loved the idea of entrepreneurs coming together to support each other. And I also was really aware of how people were communicating with each other and using their voice with each other. And I could see that some people were really nervous when it came to their turn to give that 32nd or 62nd introduction, or they would speak about themselves in such a way that I was very confused about what they did even after they were done speaking. And I realized that what they were doing was a little bit like an audition. I have years and years of experience of walking into an audition holding room and you’ve got loads 16 bars that they’ll let you sing and they will speak to you for just a few seconds. And you have to make that great first impression. And the same thing is true for business owners, when you go to a networking event, you have seconds to make a good first impression and say the thing that’s going to captivate the attention in the room to move to that next conversation. So I realized I had a lot of skill sets that could translate over to the business world, and especially in the networking environment. So I became the Managing Director, long story short of that chapter that I was brought to as a guest and I ran that group for a couple of years. And then I ran another networking organization for a while. And all the while I am transferring my skill sets from singing teacher to speaking coach. So I had about, you know, I had all 100% singers, and then that morphed into like 50% Singers, 50% speakers, then it morphed into 25% Singers, 75% speakers, and next thing you know, I’m dealing exclusively with business owners, and really helping them leverage their voice more powerfully whenever they show up in their marketing and networking efforts. So it’s, it’s been a journey, but that’s a short version.

4:22 I am so fascinated by that journey and so excited because I think it’s so true. You know, people who need to tell someone else about what they do. They are, you know, they have to show up in a different way than just having a conversation. It’s very easy to let the conversation go off in another direction and you haven’t really said what you do and they don’t really understand what you say or you have the words kind of get jumbled and even happens to someone who knows what they’re talking about. You know, for me just changing my podcast from competence and singing to the resume podcast crew Yeah, it’s a little bit of a mental, how do I explain what it is now, you know, so we’re constantly evolving as people, you evolved from the singing coach to the empowered, you know, speaker, voice, Speaker coach, and it’s just, it’s always an evolution, right?

5:19 It is an evolution. And that’s part of the joy of being an entrepreneur is that you accept it as a journey, not a destination, right? I never would have said to myself, when I started my business as a singing teacher, and I was teaching like maybe 35 students a week how to sing, that, I never imagined that I would be in a situation where it would be all business owners, so I really be working with business owners exclusively to help them with their voice and their presentation and their communication skills. But I was dedicated to what, what are the possibilities, I was open to new ideas along the way. And I’ve met some really great people that also helped me see the possibilities, the vision for what could be so you know, when you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re willing to stay open to those pivots that come your way, then really cool things can start to happen.

6:12 Absolutely. So tell me, what do you say to those Tongue Tied entrepreneurs that helps them create, you know, a different impression with those they’re trying to attract to their business? Yes, we

6:27 Have a lot of different ways you can support someone with creating clarity and becoming more captivating is what I like to say when you’re in communication. And it all really goes back to three different voices that I teach. So this is my vocal empowerment method. And there are three different voices that help you tap into what you’re meant to say, get clear about how you’re meant to show up, and really allow the message to flow freely and easily in your communication. So the first is your purpose voice, which is what you’re meant to say in the world and how you’re meant to show up. The second is your physical voice. So how does your physical voice actually function and support you and your communication? Also your body? Like? How are you using your body to walk into a room and to be confident on that stage in front of a crowd? And then the third is that mental voice and the mental voice is the structure of your talk and the actual words that you choose to use. And if you imagine those three voices stacked on top of each other, like a pyramid, so that purpose voice is the bottom of the pyramid and the physical voices in the middle of the pyramid. And the tip of that pyramid is the mental voice. That’s really how I like to lay it out, because you start with that foundational piece of the purpose voice. And most people, they tend to do this backwards, most people tend to start with their mental voice, they say, well, what is it I want to say? What are the messages that I want to deliver? And then they might practice it using their physical voice, you know, say it out loud a few times in front of the mirror? Practice it on someone that they know, how does the sound? And then they decide, well, what’s the outcome that I’d like to achieve as a result of this presentation, this networking introduction. And then they’re doing it backwards, they’re actually going through it backwards. So if you have to turn it on its head and start with what is the end goal that you really have? What’s the purpose of how you’re meant to be and show up and talk about whatever it is that you are passionate about? In that moment. If you start with that piece, and then you have great delivery, you have an amazing ability to use your voice with, you know, the inflections and the tonality and the volume and all of those things that make speaking interesting to listen to, then the words will just flow. So those pieces that people worry about, like what’s the structure of my talk? How should I start the talk? How should I end the talk? What should the middle look like, all of those things will become evident when you start with the end in mind. And when you’re really tapped into those key pieces that allow you to go into the purpose, energy that you’re meant to deliver. And then your body is trained to do whatever it’s meant to do in those moments to create that energy into action.

9:33 Absolutely wonderful. And it just, it’s, it just links in so much to my belief that everybody’s voice has value. We each of us have something that we want to bring to the world, something that actually really matters to us, you know, that actually is something that is so deeply our deepest knowing our deepest wisdom that each person has something that they can really, really, really pass on. On to others, in a way that is very deep. And, and it’s almost like human, someone, you know, understand something at one level with just their mind or they understand another level where it’s their whole physical being their whole body. And to me, that’s when something will really resonate, that word resonate comes to mind, because it’s your truth, it’s something deeply authentic to you. Is that what you’re talking about here?

10:27 Yes, absolutely, I find that when you’re using these three voices in conjunction with each other, then you are in the flow, or you’re resonating with the people that you’re meant to communicate with. Right? So it’s all about finding your audience, especially as an entrepreneur, it’s like, where is my audience? How can I deliver a message that’s going to resonate powerfully with them? And when you’re in that flow of, I know my purpose, I have the end in mind, I know how to use my voice dynamically, in this situation, and the words are just going to flow, I don’t have to worry that I’m going to stumble that I’m going to say the wrong thing. Because I’m so connected to my purpose. And when you do that, you resonate, you become captivating. Literally, the sound of your voice resonates. Because as the voice leaves your body, it’s energy. It’s a wave of energy that touches people just as clearly as if I were to go up and tap you on the shoulder. So talk about the literal translation of resonate is when your voice is powerfully doing the thing it’s meant to do. And your message is really super connected to what you’re meant to say. You will attract those people with the vibration you’re sending out physically, as well as emotionally and spiritually.

11:56 Wonderful. Oh, my God, I should get you to talk to all of my people. I’m just so excited. Since like, you know, when it’s funny, because I’ve had people listened to my podcasts, and they’ve been oh my goodness at and this person said such and such a thing. And I’m like, is that’s actually something I’ve been saying for years. But it’s like when we have, it’s like someone, someone will resonate with that person. So yeah, you saying this to our, to my listeners and to our listeners right now, it matters so much to me, because I really resonate with what you’re saying, this is like, yeah, you’re one of my people here talking.

12:36 Well, I knew you were one of my people, the minute I was introduced to yours, I’m not surprised at all. And it’s so true. I mean, the resonation piece, I love that you’ve rebranded this to that resonate, because it is the magic piece that allows you to build whatever it is you want to build. Whatever it is you’re trying to create in your life. And it whether you’re a business owner or not, you know how you show up the energy that you bring, when you show up, the way that you can use your voice to match or not match the intention that you have. This is why we are alive, honestly, is to determine what it is that we want to create and how we want to create it. And we have so many fantastic tools to be able to do that. And I believe that our voices are just the heart of that they really allow us to tap in to that purpose piece, and then bring it forward in a way that creates change that creates motivation and action in other people.

13:45 And that is exciting. Because when we can create change, and we can motivate people to change in some way. We have that power to have the world’s become a better place. Yes,

13:57 Absolutely. Absolutely. And more people who can use their voice to create change, the more we can really feel like we’re making a difference, right to have that. You know, I’m making an impact in the world, even if it’s my local world, even if it’s just one person at a time in my community, to be able to feel that I know that change is possible. And that if I’m showing up authentically and in a way that makes sense for me that I’m going to create change every time I use my voice. I believe that’s motivation to continue to show up. Right and this is something I’m always talking to my clients about in my community about is showing up is so much. It’s so powerful, right? Just the act of literally showing up and being able to practice using your voice, even if you’re nervous even if you’re unsure. Just that act alone. Creates energy that attracts people to you. So I think this is why I loved networking so much where I walked into that room and I saw people using their voice, even if they were doing it awkwardly, or if they obviously were nervous, or if I was still confused when they were done speaking, I was still really loving the fact that they were there that they showed up, and that they were willing to work on and learn and practice how to deliver messages and communicate with each other in a way to create that change to do what they wanted to do with their businesses. And so just that intentional loan, drew me in to the networking environment. And I said to myself, I really love this, I know, I could add value to the space. And so now it’s one of my exclusive things that I do is I just facilitate networking, I facilitate people connecting with each other, and using their voice powerfully to connect with each other so that they can build their businesses.

16:03 And that’s actually one of the special gifts that you’re going to give our listeners today is an opportunity to attend one of your meetings, right?

16:13 Yeah, yes, absolutely. I would love we have all virtual meetings, because you know, obviously COVID really changed things. But I do like to take credit, I started my network virtual networking group before the pandemic, a few months before the pandemic, because I knew I wanted to be able to connect with people all over. So if I had only been networking locally, for example, we never would have met, right, so that virtual networking piece has really opened up a lot of doors. It’s a silver lining of what happened from the pandemic. And I really want to grow that. So we have members from all over the United States, Canada and beyond. And I’m happy to have people come visit,

16:51 I’ll be sharing the link so people can get their ticket to go to one of your meetings very soon. What I wanted to segue to is this idea of courage. Because as you said, when someone stands up and is willing to say, Oh, this is what I do even very badly, we actually, we admire them. It’s like even if somebody got up on a stage, and didn’t do the piece that they’re meant to, we still admire them because they were willing to stand up on the stage. So there’s something to that I used to say a lot to my student, it’s like, you know, as long as you get up there, people are going to clap for the fact that you were willing to stand and be seen. And when we do that, it’s like we give ourselves that opportunity to grow.

17:38 Absolutely. And I believe that the audience is rooting for you. You know, even when I was teaching singers, you know, you’d always have the recitals, we would have recitals every semester, right? And some of the kids would be really nervous, like, what if I forget my words, what if I make mistake, and I’m going to be I always would say, it’s all part of the experience. So what if you forget the words, the audience doesn’t know, they don’t know what the words are, they don’t know what you were supposed to sing in that moment. You can just fake it if you need to. But the point is, the audience is rooting for you, they want you to succeed, they’re not sitting there looking for the mistake, you know, hoping that you fail, because I believe the audience often puts themselves in your shoes when they see you performing or speaking in front of them. And they imagine themselves doing it. And so they really want you to do well, because they would never want to fall on their face in front of a group either. So, you know, if you can see that your audience is your friend. You know, they’re your cheerleaders, I think that can help support you in those moments where you feel a little bit nervous.

18:42 Definitely. And I feel like we when we do that, then it isn’t a source of inspiration for those people. And I’d often think that, you know, we underestimate the importance of our own journey to stepping forward because there are people in each of our lives who are watching us they are, they’re a part of our sports system may be a part of our family or our friends. They won’t step forward probably until they see you step forward, because you’re the person that they are watching. It’s like they’re getting they’re receiving courage from watching your journey. And sometimes when I’m, you know, putting out my stuff on Facebook and all these things, sometimes you wonder who’s even listening to this, but you know that I believe that it matters because even if it’s a couple of people that take heart from watching me, put myself forward, whether I know what’s hitting and what’s resonating or not. And I feel like that’s has importance in itself.

19:44 Yeah, absolutely. And I’m so glad you bring up this idea of being an inspiration to others. Because I do feel like sometimes when we’re on that journey of using our voice more powerfully, you were really focused on ourselves. Right, we’re really focused on Well, this is to help me learn about myself and help me really get clarity about my message and help me have built more confidence. But there is that other side of the coin, which is like you are helping others, every time you show up. Every time you show up, someone is taking notice, at least one person is taking notice in any communication, right? Communication is always between two people. So even if you’re making a video and you’re wondering, is anyone ever going to watch this, one person will watch it, I can guarantee you on any social media platform, one person is going to see it. So if that’s the person that’s meant to in that moment, then you’ve done your job, and you are making an impact.

20:45 That’s wonderful. Tell us a little bit about your keynote speech that you do for corporate because I think this is something completely unique. I haven’t heard of anyone doing a keynote speech in this way. Tell us more.

21:00 Yeah, well, so I have I wrote a one woman musical called stage dreams, a musical. It’s a 45 minute musical presentation. It’s got nine original songs, and I act and sing my way through it. And it’s by itself an amazing inspirational presentation that could be used for like a VIP event before a conference or other things. But what I have done is I speak on different topics related to business. So I’ll speak on powerful networking skills or showing up the using your voice of your passions for examples, a topic that I speak on. And I will pull songs from that musical that I wrote, and I will insert them into my business focused presentations, to add more emphasis to a point to create more a captivating presentation. Music helps you remember things. Right? It stands out, it makes an impression. And so adding music into what I am training people to do more powerfully, which is use their voice more powerfully, show up more powerfully communicate more powerfully. And I just want to demonstrate that by actually using the voice in the way I was trained to, which is through song. So I love to create these keynote presentations that have a unique angle and original music inside of them.

22:30 I love it because it goes to show as well, that you’re completely combining what, what’s uniquely you. And you’re applying it in a corporate environment, which is amazing. But and I think that more people could do that. And maybe it would be it will give them an extra unique selling point. But it means that how much more fun is that for you than just going up and standing up and speaking on it?

23:00 Yeah, and I believe hopefully it’s inspiring others to tap into their creativity, right? Like, what’s the thing that makes you unique? That is your creative juices get going? It might not be singing, but it could be something else. And so by being the demonstration of the creativity of tapping into what I love to do, I want to inspire others to tap into what they love to do as well.

23:27 It’s wonderful. I’m just so glad you were able to come on the podcast today, Stephanie, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Is there anything that you? Yeah, you’re welcome. Is there anything that you’d like to say to our listeners, before we wrap things up?

23:43 I would say whatever you can do, whatever it is that you want to create, the more you talk about it, the more you use your voice, to vision it, to come up with creative possibilities around what that is, I believe your voice can help you manifest it. So for example, I love to speak out loud in the car when I’m driving around and just share ideas with myself. I’ll just speak it out loud. And just that simple act alone will spark ideas for me. So I would say use your voice as much as you can to be creative and to inspire yourself to do the things that you’re really meant to do in the world.

24:34 That is beautiful. You know, because we can we can do so much. But we sometimes that mental voice, as you mentioned earlier is a little bit hard on us and you know or has been maybe has had an experience that has dented your confidence in some way. And it can take a little bit of mental focus to decide I’m not going to think negatively about my future. Anymore, I choose to think positively about what I have to offer and what is possible for me. So why would it be easy and fun for things in my life to start going more smoothly? My gifts are important I have something to offer. I love people I have even finding the simple things that we know we are that we’re kind, or that we’re a good cook, start with the things just remind yourself of the things that you already know, like, deep down, okay, I do know, I’m a good friend, you know? And then work from there to say, well, maybe I’m a good singer, or maybe I’m a good entrepreneur, and I’m becoming that lead and how about I could, I could change the way that I do things. And I have the ability to, to, you know, become more skilled in different things, a lot of those things that we’re talking about are things that we can improve, but we can’t improve them if we think we can’t do them, or we’re, we’re being too hard on ourselves about even starting, we have to get started, right?

26:05 Yes. And I love that you’re focusing and building on what’s already working. So you’re saying well, what do I already know and love about myself? Well, how can I use that to build something bigger and better? So focusing on the positive, instead of maybe where you feel you have weaknesses is going to bring you so much further.

26:26 You know, and it’s like the acknowledgement, because sometimes we don’t even acknowledge those things in ourselves that were already yeah, things that we can say are good things.

26:36 I think, especially if you love personal development, which I think we both do, yeah, personal development is always about trying to improve, right, like, try to get better. And so you tend to focus on the things that maybe are weaknesses so that you can improve those. And in all honesty, you’re going to have, I think, a lot more success, when you focus on your strengths. And when you focus on the things that you already know, work for you, and that you love to do. And the more you focus on that, then I think the personal development piece becomes, you know, even more impactful.

27:10 On that note, I would like to wrap things up today. Stephanie, you have been awesome. You’re such an inspiration. I’m like, Okay, how do I bring singing into everything that I do now as well, you know, even if it’s not a difficult place to be sing, although I have been known to sing at networking meetings quite regularly, or get

27:29 On your podcast. Yeah. You should say, you know what, when idea, I know we’re wrapping it up, but I’m actually going to create a jingle for my networking group. And I’m going to sing the jingle, and it’s going to be part of my marketing stuff. It’s going to be a song. So you could even create a song for your podcast. So an idea, that is a great idea.

27:51 And think we can do we can create a new one every week, even if we want. But they Yeah, it says so much fun. It’s so much fun using the voice. And I think I have more that I can do with my singing. And when I see you, it inspires me to do that. So I appreciate you very much, Stephanie. Thank you to everyone who’s been listening to the podcast today. Welcome to the new, the resonate podcast, and we hope to see you again soon or we hope you tune in again soon. Thank you so much. Bye. Bye

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