Serving hospitals, healthcare and women's groups
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Serving hospitals, healthcare and women's groups

Barbara McAfee

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"Barbara presented at our company symposium in 2009. What a fantastic presence amidst the different speakers! Her melding of song and story wove a beautiful tapestry that held our participants in rapt attention. Barbara's background in organizational development provides the cement to bind intellectual ideas with a creative/expressive spirit. She will take any conference or keynote to the next level!" -- Chris Bjork, Resources Director, Creative Health Care Management

Fun, Musical Keynotes and Songweaving

Barbara has been a voice coach for over twenty years supporting leaders from all sectors to unleash the full power and presence in their voices. Her book, Full Voice: The Art and Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was the #1 Amazon bestseller in business communications when it was released in October of 2011. She was an organizational development consultant for twelve years, specializing in team building, communications, and applying organizational principles and practices within communities.

A professional singer/songwriter and keynote speaker, Barbara blends practical content, sassy music, useful wisdom, and sophisticated humor in her keynote presentations. She has released six CDs of her music.

She was “the band” for a 15-city Women’s Leadership Revival Tour with leadership author and speaker Margaret Wheatley and wrote the theme song as well. Barbara also appears regularly with author Peter Block who wrote the forward to her book.

Barbara is the founder of the Morning Star Singers, a group of volunteers who bring songs of comfort and healing to people in hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes.

A native Minnesotan, she now lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

Most Popular Topics:

Full Voice: Unleashing the Power of Your Vocal Presence

Given her own remarkable recovery from paralyzing stage fright, Barbara is walking (singing) evidence of the transformational power of the voice. She has been a voice coach for 25 years and is the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Full Voice: The Art and Practice of Vocal Presence.  Her clients have included leaders, nurses, consultants, actors, physicians, people healing from trauma, and many others who want to “find their voice,” literally and metaphorically.

No matter what you do for a living, you spend a good part of every day in conversation at work, at home, and in your community.

Full Voice offers a memorable, pragmatic, and playful way to ensure that your voice is congruent with your message. We will explore five distinct vocal sounds using the Five Element Framework™, then explore how sound can be put to work in enhancing your everyday communication.

In this dynamic, experiential session, you will:

  • Learn the most common vocal habits that interfere with powerful communication
  • Understand how to access five essential leadership qualities through the voice
  • Increase awareness of their own vocal habits — those that support their powerful communication and those that interfere with it.
  • Discover practical ways to use the voice more effectively and to better “hear” what other people are expressing through their voices.


Who You Gonna Be While You Do What You Do? Five Bold Ideas for Bringing Your Best Self to Work and to the World

“We are called to the place in the world where our deep joy meets the world’s deepest hunger.” Frederick Buechner

A recent Gallup Management Journal study indicates that 71 percent of American workers are not fully engaged at work. The effects of this epidemic reach far beyond the bottom line. Living in such a state takes an enormous emotional and spiritual toll on individuals and organizations alike.

When it comes right down to it, the most relevant and lasting things we accomplish in our lives have to do with being: how we interact with the people we see every day, how we show up during adversity, how we discover our deepest gifts, and how we stay connected to the wisest part of ourselves in the midst of chaos.

In this interactive musical keynote, you will:

  • Discover the underlying “verb” that infuses your life;
  • Remember why you do what you do;
  • Reconnect with your personal and professional lineage;
  • Explore creative ways you can bring more of your hidden talents to the world; and
  • Make powerful choices about what you are ready to leave behind.


Barbara uses music, research, humor, and wisdom from her years as an organizational consultant to introduce you to five bold ideas for bringing more “life” to work. Expect wise insights, belly laughs, and whole-brain learning from this professional singer/songwriter with a gift for making a powerful message go down easy.


The Spirit of Yes: Accessing the Essential Energy of Life in the Face of Fear

The changes we face in these times are increasingly rapid and dramatic. Fear is a natural human response to the unknown.

How do we sustain our creativity and resilience in the face of fear? How can we stay well and support each other during difficult times?

In this lively, interactive keynote, participants will:

  • Learn what recent brain research tells us about fear.
  • Discover simple ways to name and tame our “brain rats.”
  • Explore specific practices and touchstones for staying well and balanced in the midst of uncertainty.
  • Celebrate our deep connections to ourselves and each other through music, conversation, and laughter.


Spa for Caregivers: A Musical Keynote for Refueling Professional Givers

Caregiving is sacred work.

Barbara’s first discovered this in 1990 when her father was diagnosed with untreatable pancreatic cancer.  She and her mother were his caregivers until he died at home in Barbara’s arms after nine months of illness.  The hospice workers who guided her family through the journey gave her a deep respect for the essential role of professional caregiving.

It also inspired her to found the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer choir whose members sing songs of comfort and healing for people in hospices, hospitals, and nursing homes.

In this joyful, interactive keynote, Barbara will guide participants in exploring these questions:

  • What called me caregiving work in the first place and how can I stay connected to that calling every day?
  • What are the ways I am already supporting my own health, balance, humor, and wellbeing in the midst of the demands of caregiving?
  • What practices and habits will support me in the future?
  • Who are my allies on this journey and how can I stay connected with them?
  • How can I protect myself from the situations and people that drain and exhaust me?


The Singing Emcee:  Creating Community, Context, and Celebration

Each conference begins with a group of people wondering if they belong.  They are in a new place, deluged with information, and surrounded by strangers.  Barbara brings a genius for transforming that group into a lively, connected community.

She prepares people to learn by enlivening their bodies, touching their hearts, and invoking curiosity through her wise choice of songs.  The details get covered efficiently and clearly.  She gets the room singing in ways they find surprising and delightful.  A sense of celebration and joy permeates the conference.

Barbara has emceed The International Coach Federation Conference, Creative Health Care Management’s National Symposium, the Midwest Regional Coaches Conference, and the Gulf Coast Home Health Care Conference among others.

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