Voice and Communication Coaching

What it's like having Voice Coaching with Louise

News Posted: 15 April 2022

'Is this the right choice?'

'Is this the right choice?'

Getting on with your voice coach or any other coach for that matter is vital. Questions like: ‘What if I can’t stand her?!’ ‘What if I tie myself into a contract I can’t get out of?’, ‘What if it’s a complete waste of money!’ Or questions of a similar catastrophic nature can fly round your head on repeat. I’ve had these questions myself when I’ve been looking for people to work with.

You and your communication

I specifically work with senior professionals who want to upgrade their communication. That could be they want to improve their voice, their personal impact, their ability to engage across their organisation or how they come across when interviewed by a journalist. If it’s to do with communication, I do it!

If you’re thinking of working with me as your voice and communication coach, I’ve designed this blog to answer questions you might have. The areas I will cover are:

1. Finding the right voice coach.

2. Getting to know me before you begin voice coaching.

3. How long am I signing up for voice coaching?

4. How often are the voice coaching sessions?

5. Where do we meet for the voice coaching?

6. Do I have to practise between voice coaching sessions?

7. How do I measure my progress?

8. My part/your part in the voice coaching process.

9. What do you actually do in a voice coaching session?

10. Is voice coaching uncomfortable?

1. Finding the right voice coach for you

When I meet you for the first time, the objective here isn’t to convince you or prove to you that I’m the best voice coach for you; the objective is to find out if we can successfully work together. If we discover that it probably wouldn’t work then that’s most definitely a successful interaction that we can both be pleased with. That’s a result.

For example, I tend to use humour a lot in my coaching. I like to be focussed but playful, structured but light-hearted. Since voice coaching is very much about releasing undue effort and tension this style reflects what we’re actually trying to achieve in the coaching environment. In addition though, it’s just how I work and it’s part of my style that’s evolved over the years. If you’re someone that responds to this style that’s great. However, if you like to work in a way that has no humour and worse humour seems to you flippant, disrespectful somehow and interferes with your thought processes then we may not be the best match.

2. Getting to know me before you begin voice coaching

I have a process I like to go through when talking to people who might become clients. After I receive an email from you, we arrange a 30 minute meeting on zoom. We introduce ourselves, I get to know about your work, where you’re located and what galvanised you to look for a voice coach. I also ask you what you want to work on. I then explain how I work. I might refer you to my blog ‘5 Reasons You’re Not Right for Voice Coaching’.

After our first meeting I draw up a proposal citing your outcomes, the obstacles that may be currently standing in your way and the process we’ll go through to meet your objectives. I then email that to you and you have a look to see if you really think I’ve understood what you want.

We then arrange another 30 minute zoom call to go over the proposal and I answer any other questions you might have. At the end of this meeting you’re still under no obligation to continue and this process is free.

You then make a decision to work with me or not.

3. How long am I signing up for voice coaching?

Just in case you see an eternity stretching out before you with me as your voice coach let me tell you this is not the case! I recommend a six month initial period working together. However there is a three month break clause if you find that this type of coaching isn’t for you. So three months is the minimum we’ll work together.

4. How often are the voice coaching sessions?

You ‘see’ me either in person or on zoom for four contact hour per month in any time combination you’d like. If we’re meeting in person a two hour session makes sense due to the effort involved in getting to the venue.

If you’re travelling, for example, and we’re on different time zones or you feel you want to consolidate the work we’ve done rather than move on, you might prefer me to send you recorded lessons as podcasts or videos. This focusses on practice as you can repeat the series of exercises as many times as you want.

However we arrange the sessions it’s really important that the coaching fits in with your work and your life and doesn’t become a burden. We can work together to make sure that when and how we meet works for you.

5. Where do we meet for the voice coaching?

If we meet in person it can be at your offices, it can be at a venue we hire or it can sometimes, depending on the circumstances, be at your home. I often work with people at work spaces in central London. For people who live abroad and are in London for a short stay we can use a meeting room at the hotel that you’re staying at.

If we meet in person it can be at your offices, it can be at a venue we hire or it can sometimes, depending on the circumstances, be at your home. I often work with people at work spaces in central London. For people who live abroad and are in London for a short stay we can use a meeting room at the hotel that you’re staying at.

6. Do I have to practise between voice coaching sessions?

If you’ve read any of my other blogs you’ll have found me mention the word practice! Mind – body connection is important in voice coaching and to this end practice is vital.

There are two types of practice:

a. Practice at work

This is the practice where you’re implementing new behaviours while you’re working. It could be using a different communication style at a meeting whether in person or on zoom or it could be slowing down the pace at which you talk and utilising pauses. This kind of practice is easier on one level because you don’t haveto put aside time to do it. On the other hand, it can be challengingto make changes while you’re talking to people you know.However, if you’re relaxed and the communication is organic no one will notice the changes you’re making – and you’ll have alreadyspent time practising with me so everything will look natural and authentic.

b. Practice on your own

To embed the physical skills of communication that work without you even thinking, practice is required. New neural pathways have to be created between mind and body that automatically engage on an unconscious level. Some of the exercises we do will require you to practise on yourown and to focus on what you’re doing. Other practice you can do sitting on a train or sitting at your desk. You still need some time when you’re not going to be interrupted but you can take out five minutes here, five minutes there.

How much practice do I do between voice coaching sessions?

I would say this depends on how much time you have. I’d go so far as to say if you don’t have any time to practise don’t have the coaching. Little and often is better than one long practice session followedby nothing for two weeks.

7. How do I measure my progress?

This is a tricky question because often we’re not the best judge of our own performances. Have you ever thought you did terribly at a presentation or meeting only to be told how impressed someone was by your performance? The main reason for this is we misinterpret being comfortable and staying in our comfort zone with good communication and vice versa. What’s unfamiliar feels ‘wrong’ and so we think the same when we change our communication.

But back to the question of how you’ll know if you’ve made progress and have improved?

Here are some ways you can measure your progress:

  1. After working with me for a few months and if you feel comfortable, I like to record you. You then get to watch yourself in action. I know this is some people’s idea of hell but it’s incredibly good feedback and it does let you see the positive changes you’re making.

You’ll also have a list of learning objectives that we’ll have clarified during our initial zoom calls so you’ll be able to see, hear and feel by watching the video clips if these outcomes are actualising.

  1. Another good way of measuring your progress is to ask a trusted friend or mentor at work to be present at a webinar or presentation you’re giving. Ask them the following questions:
  • Can you tell me how I come across generally?
  • Do you notice any behaviours that are different and better than before? For example, a louder voice, different gestures, improved posture.
  • My outcome was X, do you think how I communicated achieved this?
  • Is there anything I could have done that would have improved my communication?

These questions are important because people tend to give generic feedback that doesn’t help you. Your friend will need guidelines to work with and these questions will provide this.

  1. Are you getting more of what you want from your communication than you were before the coaching?This to me is the ultimate test. Are you meeting your outcomes more often than you were? And if you are, you’ll feel that when you talk to someone or to an audience that you have a set of skills you can draw on to help you do this. To gauge how you’re doing, you’ll have to make sure that you go into each interaction with a clear outcome. Sometimes your outcome may be too ambitious to achieve in one meeting. If that’s the case let common sense rule and adjust your outcome to the reality playing out in front of you. So over a period of a month, if you come away from interactions having met your outcomes more often than before the coaching there’s a good chance that you’re improving! If there’s more of a relaxed feel in interactions between yourselves and others you’re improving. If you can challenge and be heard and what you’re saying taken on board, you’re improving. And finally, if you’re striving and struggling less and skills rather than tension is directing communication then you’re improving!

8. My part/your part in the voice coaching process

My part is to help you achieve your outcomes as we clarified at the beginning of our meeting together. However, after you achieve some of the outcomes you initially wanted to tackle, you now find you can identify other outcomes you hadn’t originally thought of. My part is to make this continually evolving process as clear and easy as possible.

I see the part I play as broader than just turning up for the sessions we have together and providing follow up work. It is to create a link between sessions, should you need or want it, so that the learning process stretches into your communication at work. What that means is if you need to run anything past me regarding an important meeting, webinar or media interview we have a way of doing that even if no session is booked.

Your part is to practise – you’re getting the message! I’ve written a whole section on this above.

Your part is also to be honest with me and honest with yourself. If we’re doing work that doesn’t quite feel like it’s moving towards your outcomes or you’re not enjoying the work, tell me so we can discuss it. You should be happy with what we’re doing and if you’re not TELL ME. Remember we’re here to communicate. J

9. What do you actually do in a voice coaching session?

‘What do we do exactly?’ people ask. ‘How do you get presence and impact?’ ‘What exercises do we do?’

Here are some of the things we might do:

  • Breathing in a way that releases the diaphragm.
  • Vocalising to embody the voice.
  • Releasing the jaw for articulation and clarity.
  • Using different language patterns.
  • Managing your emotional state.
  • Working with techniques to access your optimal states.
  • Removing muscular tension that stands in the way of vocal production.
  • Working with the dynamics of influencing.
  • Storytelling.
  • Learning how to work an audience.
  • Practising work scenarios.

The approach I take for all of the above areas are approached firstly from a physical perspective. You might have received a lot of executive coaching that's cerebrally based and talks to the mind. However, this type of voice and communication coaching looks at creating a foundation based on the body, breath, voice, posture and language. It is this approach that you may find unusual. You’ll be looking at your breathing patterns as you lie on the floor in order to enable vocal support, you’ll be vocalising sounds to embody the voice, you’ll be aligning your posture and calibrating gesture with language. None of this is what you may have done before and in this respect you might consider it left-field. If this is a worry for you have a look at my blog 5 Reasons Why You’re Not Right For Communication Coaching

10. Is voice coaching uncomfortable?

Mmmm…showing up differently in the world is always going to be well – uncomfortable. Here are some examples that people can initially find difficult:

  • being more visible
  • being louder
  • having a deeper voice
  • being more authoritative
  • being more directive
  • holding silence
  • standing up to challenge
  • challenging

The list goes on. But isn’t it better to feel uncomfortable with me and practise in a safe setting than in the real world when the stakes can be very high? However, be prepared to feel yourself resist some of the work. Changing how you show up and interact with people can be threatening to the primitive limbic part of your brain that would like to keep you safe, that is, continuing to do exactly what you’ve always done.

I also think that explaining to people why I’m asking them to do a certain exercise or piece of work helps contextualise and demystify the process. I’ve discovered people find the theory behind the exercises nearly as interesting as I do.

Actually, voice coaching’s enjoyable!

This is an important part of the equation. You’re the raw material on which communication and voice coaching works. You transform yourself to become a more adept, a more empowered and a more charismatic communicator. If you know how to influence, hold a room, embody presence and have a voice that really expresses who you are, you can be more relaxed because you can stop striving. You’ll be much more at ease and in the moment. This type of coaching will work on your body and voice to change how you connect to yourself, the world and the people in it. Personally, I find that amazing. I just also happen to think the process is a lot of fun too!

Next Steps

If you’re senior professional and you’d like to discuss having voice and communication coaching with me put your name and email address here and I’ll get back to you.

Author Posted by: Louise Collins.

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