HomeMarch 2024Living voice

MERETE NØRGAARD is in dialogue with EMILIE MOGENSEN. Through her company, Living Voice (www.livingvoice.dk), Merete works with leaders and communicators, helping them become better speakers, strengthen their voices, and achieve authentic leadership. Her book, The Magic of the Voice, is a guide to understanding the voice as an instrument and a muscle to be trained. 


EM: By way of introduction, one of my best experiences was when I had to pitch my previous company on Danish national TV. I knew I needed help to be able to stay centered and focused, so that the people who were listening should be able to feel behind my words, and sense who I was. That was in 2018, and I have learned and changed a lot since. Nevertheless, I really nailed the performance and it was so much fun! I felt myself speaking and behaving from a sense of deep inner balance and authenticity. I believe it was because I trained with Merete.

Merete is one of my very dear friends, an older sister, whom I admire and love to talk to. She is funny, her mind is agile, and her heart is open. I really hope Merete’s wisdom will reach more people, because she is one of the best facilitators I know. I am honored to introduce Merete to the readers of Heartfulness magazine and happy that this is coinciding with the English translation of her book, The Magic of the Voice

The Masters of ancient wisdom traditions have written about the voice. According to philosophical texts, OM is a sacred sound, the sound of the universe, encompassing all other sounds within it. The mystery of sound is a deep innate wisdom we all carry and can access rather simply. 

Hi Merete, thank you for everything you’re doing in this world. You have been an entrepreneur for many years and have built up a successful coaching business. You also have two adult children, whom you parented as a single mom while building your company. That is quite an achievement.

I am curious to know why your method has become well known and used by many companies and individuals in high positions in Denmark. What is it that made your company grow and become a fruitful career path, while remaining your deepest passion?

MN: Thank you so much for inviting me, and being a kind, loving sister in the Heartfulness community. We all need to practice being present while communicating, as our voices are like a conveyor belt from the inner to the outer.

My purpose is to help people to own the right to be and speak with a voice that says something about who they are. The voice is one of your most powerful instruments of presence and awareness. It helps you connect with others and understand who you are. When you say something aloud, only then do you know what you mean as the words take conscious form.

Also, most of us need to relearn to speak as we exhale—to breathe in and then speak as we exhale, i.e., draw inspiration (Inspirare means “to breathe into”) and speak it.

I work in a concrete and physical way with your voice, peeling off whatever isn’t you, so that you come across bright and vibrant. Working with your voice is a source of wisdom and insight into yourself, which works sublimely with whatever other methods of development you are working with.

You will dare to discover the unknown spot within yourself that transforms your nervous energy and makes your voice vibrant, strong, and convincing, reducing the need to repeat what you’ve said a thousand times before, as a professional speaking from your heart with lasting impact.




My story began at a young age, with red blotches on my neck, a rapid pulse, and intense fear whenever I spoke in public. Many years ago I decided to transform that fear into something advantageous, the anxiety and nervous energy into something positive, by developing a tool kit that enabled me to lead others down the path to outstanding performance; the kind where you get your message across, leave an impact on the audience, and break the sound barrier.

As a young actress, I worked with Shakespeare’s texts. It was as if I could only get to the soul of Shakespeare’s characters through their voices-like a fingerprint, the exact sound of a person can tell everything about their character.

The voice became a key to finding character. Shakespeare forced me to connect with the voice, body, breath, and soul; to put my whole self into his material, and surrender to the text without using my brain or anything mental. It was all about giving myself fully and forgetting myself; self-forgetfulness. In this way, the text became a living character via the voice.

And so my interest in voice work began. I always knew we all have the right to a voice; to attend, give our voice, and share our stories. It is a human way to belong and find out who we are, what we can give to others and the world.

I needed to develop myself to pass it on. Shakespeare’s work connects the soul and voice. His plays express the great human emotions, and outline profound ideas that are still relevant today. He sums up human emotions and dilemmas, and conveys them powerfully and effectively. He had a deep understanding of and love for humanity. He knew that there is much more that unites than divides us.




EM: You have been a sincere practitioner of Heartfulness for more than two decades, and I know for myself that voice training allows me to meditate and center myself better. Can you put some words on why?

MN: Voice training emphasizes the fact that you don’t just have a voice; you are your voice. Your voice, physically, is you, and it will spread throughout your body if you let it. Often you feel centered if your inner space is deep.

When you make sound, and cultivate and train your sound, your voice transports your vibrations behind your words. The sound of the voice is vibration, which gives peace and anchoring when you speak with a bodily-supported voice. You can better recognize the sound of yourself, and others also perceive your voice as you.

When your voice is physically supported and takes place in the whole body, you can imagine your voice as an airborne instrument, with sound waves that flow through the air. Those sound waves are created inside your instrument, and they fly through the air and set the parts in the ear in motion. It’s a touch that flies through the air. Let the flow of your conversation be one that is smooth and in harmony with the flow of reality.

When you say something aloud,
only then do you know what you
mean as the words take conscious form.

Your voice is with you all your life. From the time you were born with a scream until you exhale with a sigh. We survive and live on sound, and the sound of our voices is part of our basic existence. In the voice, body, psyche, emotions, and expression meet—everything that makes you you.

The voice sets the air and people in motion. It is an airborne instrument that can both caress and strike, and get very close to other people. We literally touch other people when we listen to them with our voice.

For me, the human voice is the most important sound on our planet and the only sound that can make us laugh or cry, start a war, or say, “I love you.” The voice comes as “dynamic flesh” from the body, from the soul, from our life stories, from our emotions, and from the human need to communicate. As Lalaji said, “Sound is the manifestation of consciousness.”




EM: We have shared a lot lately on inner development, and how we can go from being good facilitators to extraordinary facilitators. You talk about the ability to bring yourself into the equation as facilitator, demonstrating vulnerability. On your podcast you explore the archetypal feminine voice (not gender specific). Why is the voice such an incredibly powerful tool to enhance polarity balance?

MN: We are born with an instrument that we can use to remove distance between each other, by speaking properly and bodily.

Knowing your voice is important: “How do I sound when I speak? Do I have a harsh sound, loud, muffled, closed, or a hearty sound? Do I speak with a voice that I recognize as me? Or can my voice only transmit parts of me and my messages?”

We can be aggressive with our voices and push people away, perhaps without knowing it. That is because we have not been trained to be heard, or to be in ourselves when we have to speak up, and take a place with who we are and what we would like to say.

Know your voice and the sound of it, as it is connected to your inner self.

Take responsibility for how you sound when you speak. Every time you open your mouth, you do something to other people. Some people don’t even know they speak so low and muffled, without nuance and variation, that it sounds as if they are talking to themselves and are not interested in connecting with others.

When you communicate, give something of yourself, and let it be available in the room. Focus, body, and presence are needed, and the fuel to speak, namely your breath.

I work with two masculine and two feminine voice qualities that are found in everyone. The goal is to balance the light and dark tones in the voice, so that the body supports it softly. This inner polarity balance is what you have experienced supporting you as a facilitator, an entrepreneur, and a human being on the path.

Let the flow of your conversation be
one that is smooth and in harmony
with the flow of reality.

EM: When I work with you, I enjoy your ability to imitate different archetypes through the voices of famous people and politicians. Your background as an actor comes in handy to emphasize the power (or lack of) the voice can have to deliver a message.

I am curious to know how we can explore our signature story and “Voice Real,” through voice training. Hidden parts of myself pop up when I dare to let go and really follow your guidance. Is the voice an instrument to deliver our message, and also a guide to find our authentic Self?

MN: Yes! It is your signature history, your personal and unique story that tells why you have become who you are. Among other things, authentic people have reflected a lot on their lives. No matter if they have had the full of support of others, or they have been hit by misfortune and death, they have extracted learning. They have reflected on what events have made them who they are today and taken responsibility for the process. They have risen above their challenges, put them in a new framework, and thereby found their passion for living.

You can work with this spark, this you, because this is where your real power and energy lie; as a person, communicator, leader, teacher, performer, etc. Self-awareness and authenticity are important prerequisites for motivating others and burning through with your messages. It requires courage, a high degree of honesty, and an openness to look at oneself and past events without judging yourself or others. The people who take this step fully experience becoming more human and willing to show their vulnerability. Denying your “weaknesses” is one of the biggest dangers to development, regardless of which function you are contesting.

The ability to motivate and communicate is based on the courage to dare to use your unique voice, originality, and individual story.



We are born with an instrument that
we can use to remove distance
between each other, by speaking
properly and bodily. 

EM: I love these answers. They make me think about the French word “coeur,” meaning “heart,” from the same root as courage. To speak from the heart requires courage. I wish schools would have voice training in their curriculums.

Do you think the voice is one of those forgotten parts of the human potential, and in future societies we will train this instrument as much as we train the body?

MN: Yes, our voices can be trained much earlier in the school system so own the space we speak in. Then, we will not be afraid to speak up and fail, or be judged based on what we have on our minds.

If we are not trained in the naturalness of taking the floor and speaking up, we lose connection to the heart when we speak. Then everything has to be thought through in the brain, and we sound like a machine, not like a human voice.

Many love to stand for hours and train muscles in front of mirrors in the gym, or burn hundreds of calories on bikes and treadmills. That is perfectly fine, but the muscles we overlook are the vocal cords. It’s a shame, because the voice has far greater potential than anything else. If it were up to me, we’d replace an hour a week in the fitness center with an hour of optimal use of the voice. The voice has such an incredible influence on how we are perceived by the world around us. Most importantly, you can step into character toward your surroundings, as the person you are deep down.

If we are not trained in the
naturalness of taking the floor
and speaking up, we lose
connection to the heart
when we speak. 

EM: Can anyone’s voice be trained, even if they are tone deaf, for example? 

MN: Yes, it’s possible.

“You have to forget yourself. It’s the only way.”
Eleonora Duse, Italian actor

If you could chose two well-known voices, one male and one female, that you feel to be the most balanced and authentic, who would that be and why?

There are many well-known actors, activists, change makers, and spiritual masters, like Morgan Freeman, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench, Martin Luther King, Jr., Chariji, Malala Yousafzai, and Scarlet Johannson could be some good choices. They speak with such integrity and authenticity that it almost doesn’t matter what they say, you just want to follow them.




EM: I am looking forward to training with you soon in the Danish Heartfulness Center, and I hope to see you facilitate voice training at Kanha in India one day. What can we expect from a workshop with you?

MN:The Magic of the Voice is a guide to understanding the voice as an instrument and a muscle you can train. The voice has both masculine and feminine qualities, and the ability to juggle these aspects is a great advantage in various situations, not only in leadership roles, during business negotiations, or when giving presentations, but also in daily life. When you join my workshops, you will harvest many years of experience in helping people find and use their voices. I guide people in improving their performance, both on stage, in relationships, and at work.

EM: Thank you from the heart, Merete.


Merete Nørgaard

Merete Nørgaard

Merete has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of voice and performance training. Her company, Living Voice, works with leaders and communicators helping them become better speakers, to strengthen their voice, and achieve authent... Read More