A voice coach is a professional that can come from different backgrounds: singers, actors, speech therapists, broadcasters, accent coaches, voice artists, and more. Therefore, it is difficult to define exactly what you can learn from a voice coach because there is simply so much to learn, depending on your coach’s background and training.
It all comes down to what you are looking for.
In order to choose the right of coach for you or your team, ask yourself what is it you want to overcome or refine. During a Discovery Call, it is important to make sure that the strengths of your coach match the issues you want to address.
Below, I list a few themes you might identify as focus points and goals to explore with your prospective coach in a Discovery Call:
1. Overcome public speaking fear
This had to be number one. Statistically, a greater number people in the USA fear Public Speaking than they fear death. It is a big question to address and it has more than one solution. Can a voice coach help you overcome this challenge? Yes, very often they can. A good coach will be able to assess if your fear is something that comes from a lack of experience and proper tools, or if it is something deeper, and needs to be addressed by an appropriate health care professional.
If you decide to explore voice coaching in order to overcome Public Speaking fear, (and many clients have this at the top of their wish list) make sure that you ask your coach if they have specific techniques for this, plural. More often than not , there are many layers responsible for creating blockages, (habitual, physical, psychological, intellectual) and therefore we might need more than one solution. The possibilities are endless: from intellectual tools, breathing exercises, mindfulness, speech techniques. If this is at the top of your list, make sure you let your coach know so they can give you their best recommendations and design an appropriate program.
2. establish leadership presence
Commanding a room, showing charisma, portraying confidence, winning trust, are all skills you can refine with a voice coach . This will normally involve working with non-verbals. Learning how to intentionally use different vocal parameters (I call them vocal dynamics) and how to utilize them to get different effects: commanding, connecting, inspiring, calling to action, etc. Many times your coach will be able to guide you through body language tools, stage movement, eye contact and facial expressions as well. Personally, this is one of the most fascinating and rewarding parts of my work. There often is a penny drop moment when the client watches back videos of their performance after doing this work specifically, and witnesses the profound impact it has.
3. find the voice that works for you, consistently
Voice quality: This is why we like a speaker and not another. This is why we trust a speaker and not another.
Many times, it comes down to vocal health and consistent vocal production. You might think there is nothing wrong with the health of your voice, and for most people this is true. The problem is that under pressure, our voice reveals much more than we normally wish for: tension, hesitation, aggressiveness, signals of superiority or inferiority, signs of attractiveness, the list goes on. This happens because our vocal folds are housed in a delicate suspended structure, subject to minor changes and tensions of the muscles that surround it. Subtle changes in posture, breath flow, and physiological states resulting from different triggers can all have an impact on your voice. And yes, we will hear it:
Listeners have an extraordinary capacity to pick up on these changes, and create a meaning of their own as to how we are feeling, how authentic we are being and impacting how much they care about what we say. A voice coach can help you create a set habits that make your voice work for you, and sound consistent under pressure. Having a good vocal quality allows you to say what you mean in the way you mean to say it, and inspire the response you want.
4. develop stage stamina
For exactly the same reasons as in the paragraph before, a tired speaker is not a speaker we want to listen to. And a healthy speaker can very well become a tired speaker after 5 minutes on a stage. Speaking on stage requires very different physical demands than chatting to a friend, and a vocal coach becomes essential to help you achieve proper vocal stamina.
There are many other subjects a vocal coach might be able help you with. Many will be trained in presentation skills, accents, effective communication and even interview techniques. There is a lot to explore and many benefits to make the journey worth it. Working with the voice can be a vulnerable process because it deals with our expression and presence, how we show ourselves to the world. Voice coaches are equipped to provide you with a safe and trusting environment because they also went through the same journey of discovery.
It begins with knowing what you can learn from a voice coach and establishing what you want to achieve. Being a wonderful communicator is not a stroke of luck: it is a skill.