CGM blog: Finding your voice the Victoria Wood way

One of Britain’s greatest comediennes Victoria Wood was laid to rest last week.

There is much to learn from her life and times.

Wood’s amazing canon of work is truly inspirational – not least because while we often expect celebrities to be exuberant, larger than life characters – she was refreshingly normal – a shy, even reluctant, performer.

We might even have been robbed of the true depth of her talent had it not been for fate.

Even though she’d had TV breaks by winning talent show New Faces and appeared on That’s Life,  Victoria was still living in a Birmingham bedsit when her career defining moment happened – meeting Julie Walters.

Wood and Walters gelled like no comedy double act before or since with Walters able to interpret Wood’s sardonic observations of the human condition – most famously Acorn Antiques’ Mrs Overall and a series of caustic characters in skits and films – notably egomaniac film star Pat Bedford in Pat and Margaret (in which Wood plays Margaret Mottished).

Wood found similar voices in talented actors like Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston and Susie Blake – who truly ‘got’ her work and provided not just a voice but a perfect tone.

Luck? Hard work? A bit of both? It matters not. We were all richer for the experience.

Small wonder Victoria Wood will be sadly missed. I only hope she knew how much.

So what’s the lesson here? Perhaps the most poignantly that finding your voice whether you are a writer, a business, a person or a team or organisation is crucial to success.

Much fuss is made about the value of messaging – shaping messages, being ‘on message’, getting your message ‘out there’ – less so about tone.

Life is more often about the journey that the destination itself – not what you say but the way you say it.

Too often we’re barked at by crass politicians, over-zealous salesmen, high and mighty organisations and wannabes whose desperation is shrill.

While only the astute should attempt comedy in the apparently effortless way Victoria Wood achieved – nonetheless she showed there can be gentler ways to poke fun and make a salient point.

And that’s something for all of us to ponder.

If you didn’t spot that attribute in Victoria Wood’s work you just weren’t listening hard enough.

Chris Green is managing partner of Chris Green Media.