Perhaps you’ve had this experience but it’s a new one for me: full-blown laryngitis, an inflammation of the larynx and vocal cords.

It began as a bad cold a few days ago, and I woke up one morning, after coughing through the night, and found I had no voice. I could squeak out a few words but the effort of forcing air through what seemed to be a pinprick hole in a rubber ball, was exhausting. I had work that was committed to and so forced myself to exert the effort to speak as much as I could but, by the end of the day, I wasn’t even able to squeak

My GP told me to not speak at all, give my parts a rest, but I wanted to get a second opinion from the Mayo Clinic, of course.

They told me, reassuringly, that it isn’t usually serious and should go away in 3 weeks max.

THREE WEEKS?  How can I do what I do without my voice?

Siri can’t understand me so I can’t use voice to text; I can’t talk on the phone because people think I’m either a 150 years old or a crazed stalker making threatening noises; and I certainly can’t do my work because it involves listening to clients speak and make presentations BUT it also involves me giving them feedback and encouragement and that just doesn’t work as well in typed chat boxes.

Ironic, isn’t it? The mute communications coach.

Many of you know how important I believe our voices to be – in all contexts! Speaking with authenticity, from your own lived experience and with emotional resonance are all parts of owning your voice.

Like Zelensky. Exactly like Zelensky.

It is apparent why some of the video of Ukrainian president and global leadership icon, Volodomyr Zelensky, is more compelling than others.  Even if you don’t speak the language, his passion and conviction comes through. Take a look at this brief clip of him assuring the world that, despite Kremlin propaganda that he had fled for safer terrains, he was holding on in Kiev:

Yes, the subtitling is distracting and takes away from the clip but there’s a power and conviction in his voice that is compelling.

Now, compare the impact of his delivery with simultaneous translation, in a recent address to the US Congress:

While he received a standing ovation and there’s no denying the man’s passion, quashing his own voice in favour of the dispassionate tone of the translator, lost something in the translation.

I doubt that while working as an actor and comedian, Zelensky ever imagined that his voice would one day bond a nation and unify much of the civilized world behind him.

It is to the credit of Volodomyr Zelensky that the world is riveted by the tragedy that is unfolding in Ukraine. He has given the entire country a voice by sharing his own. He speaks of them, as one of them, sharing the lived experience of bombardment and devastation. His is a voice that must be heard and acted upon.

Joanna Piros