Voice and Performance Coach
Singing and Speaking Voice
WHY VOICE TRAINING IS ONE OF THE BEST GIFTS YOU CAN GIVE YOURSELF
Article by Lauren LiBetti – Producer MediaFace (and voice student)
Video Voice-over by Lisa Bragg - Partner MediaFace (and voice student)
It’s 9 a.m. and I’m driving to work with last night’s wine cork in my mouth. I’m reciting a script I wrote yesterday, feeling the muscles in my mouth strain as I slowly pronounce each word.
As a producer at MediaFace, I spend an extensive amount of time on first, uncovering authentic content, and then, crafting stories that effectively connect a client to their intended audience. I take pride in the fact that the stories I tell are often the missing link between these two parties.
But what do you do when, once your voice is added, your carefully crafted story falls flat to the ear? You read three vocal training books, listen to one CD, spend countless hours attempting to strengthen your voice (cork included), and finally, admit defeat and call in the experts.
“It doesn’t matter what you say unless somebody actually hears the message,” says Donna Flynn, a Toronto-based vocal coach I’ve been training with. “It’s like the punctuation of a written text. We would never ever give somebody a text without commas, or exclamation points or periods. And so that’s what your voice is. Your voice is the punctuation that tells the story.”
And that’s exactly why I sought Flynn’s expertise — to develop a voice that would lift my stories off the page. Whether you’re a singer or a school teacher, your voice is crucial to your ability to communicate. It determines how your audience hears, and consequently responds, to the story you’re telling. A strong voice is something we can all benefit from.
“Many people in the business community, particularly women, who are extremely well educated and very confident, and then they walk into a room and they’re invisible.” Flynn says. “They need to transform their voice to be something that represents who they are as a leader.”
Through breathing exercises, muscle strengthening, articulation and more, vocal training helps you gain control over the elements of their voice, including tone and pitch. Once you learn to use your voice properly, you’ll continuously strengthen it with every word you speak.
Ellin Bessner, a vocal and performance coach for The Globe and Mail, reflects on the first time she worked with a vocal coach. At the time, she was an established broadcast journalist, but when it came to voicing, she just did what she thought was right.
“It was like a God-send. The sky opened and the lightning bolt hit me. He said you have to be in love with your audience, you have to be in love with the process of telling the story, and you have to be in love with the story,” Bessner says. “ I was really so happy that someone taught me a better way to communicate.”
Both Bessner and Flynn say many people hold the misconception that you’re either born with or without a great voice. They say that most of the voice is about learned skill, not natural talent.
“People think singers are given these golden chops, and they’re the lucky ones … but it’s not true. When we think of the singers that we love, most of them don’t have phenomenal voices. They have regular voices and they work them very, very hard,” Flynn says.
Although there’s hope for us all, there’s no guarantee our vocal journey will be easy.
“It takes work. You can’t just do it in five minutes and think I’m fixed,” Bessner says. “It makes you slow down. It makes you analyze yourself and the image you present to the world in a way you probably never have. It’s humbling, so be ready for that.”
It’s been both rewarding and demanding to get my voice to where it is today. I can attest to the value of a strong voice — you transform into someone whose message is clear. I have a whole new set of vocal exercises to practice in the car, but this time with purpose and not an ounce of embarrassment.
“Voice training is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Finding your own personal voice and learning how to use that internal voice is empowering,” Flynn says. “It’s your intellectual property that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life and you can build on it any time.”
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