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Voice Coaching, Presentation Skills and Building Confidence

Private Tuition – Frequently Asked Questions

What do you do?
I am a professionally qualified Voice Coach / Presentations Trainer. Individuals come to me from many different backgrounds and professions. Most people wish to improve the strength of their voice and their public speaking and communication skills. They want to overcome nerves and self-consciousness. Voice coaching usually has a very positive effect both in their professional situation and on their personal communication skills. I work with individuals one-to-one. I also organize small group training days for businesses and organisations.
How do you describe what you do?
I am a Voice Coach; Speech Coach/Trainer; Presentations Skills Coach; Communication Skills Trainer; Public Speaking Coach; Interview Coach; Vocal Skills Trainer; Drama Teacher and Acting Coach.
What specific skills training do you provide?
Voice Development and Coaching; Speech and Presentation Skills Training; Public Speaking Training; Communication Skills Training; Vocal Coaching; Vocal Training; Interview Technique Coaching; Body Language Coaching and Performance Skills; Accent Reduction; Accent Softening; Pronunciation Coaching; Drama Lessons; Audition Coaching; and for younger people: Preparation for LAMDA Examinations.
What happens in a private session?
This will depend very much on the needs of the individual. I find almost everybody benefits from a ‘back to basics’ approach. Breath control is important, both for improving vocal strength and for vocal variety. It is also integral to the major challenge of controlling nerves. You will learn breath control exercises. The next issue for most people is clarity. One of the many subliminal signals we send when we speak to people is through the sound of our voice and how clear our diction is. If appropriate I will teach you simple exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of your lips and tongue. If you have a specific speech or presentation to give it is important to get up on your feet to practice it as quickly as possible. I can also help you with organising and putting together the content of your speech. We will also look at posture, body language and the use of gesture and eye contact. We will relate the exercises to your particular challenge. For example, you may be giving a formal presentation, addressing a meeting or preparing for a job interview.
How many sessions will I need?
If you have something specific in mind and are already an experienced speaker, one or two sessions to prepare for an important speech or presentation may be all you need. I usually find motivated adults can learn the breathing and diction exercises to a point of confidence in three to four one hour sessions. How much more an individual wants to do will vary. Some people may wish to have a series of sessions over a longer period of time to fully develop their voice and really improve their public speaking skills.
How long is a session?
A typical session lasts one hour. However it is often helpful, if time and budget allow, to make the first session two hours. This is to introduce and teach the basic set of breathing, articulation and diction exercises, which together with teaching other skills, takes two hours. You can therefore kick start your progress by learning both sets of exercises in one go.
Can I book a longer session?
Yes. There is not much voice and presentations training available in the South West so people sometimes come to see me from as far away as Cornwall or Somerset. Under these circumstances some clients like to do a three-hour session.
If you choose to give me voice exercises, how long will it take to practice them?
Little and often is the best approach. Everyone comes with the same vocal equipment. What you are trying to do is to make the voice and breath work better. The breath needs to support the voice and the lips and tongue need to be flexible enough to respond in any situation. 10 – 15 minutes a day will usually bring excellent results.
Are the exercises difficult?
The exercises are very simple. However, the challenge is that every client is up against ‘the habits of a lifetime’. The voice is a very intimate part of an individual’s personality and is completely automatic. People can feel self-conscious about making changes. Part of the success of this kind of training is that it works at two different levels. Firstly the exercises work at a physical level, to strengthen and improve the voice and also to increase control over our body language and nerves. At the same time the exercises engage us with our feelings of shyness, self-consciousness, fear etc. I will teach you to successfully meet these challenges.
How will I know if the sessions are working and how do I bring the ‘exercise work’ into my day-to-day speech?
As you begin to do the exercises and understand more clearly how your voice works, you will become aware of changes. Although we need our brains to learn the exercises, we want the improved way of speaking to become automatic. How long this takes varies between individuals. However clients are often pleasantly surprised by how quickly changes come about.
Do I need to bring anything to the session?
If you have a particular presentation to give bring all your material including Powerpoint slides etc. If you have your speech on a word processor, print out two copies with double lined spacing to allow for editing. If you are not preparing for public speaking there is no need to bring anything to the session. People should wear comfortable, loose clothing and women should wear trousers.
Can you help with the preparation of my material?
Yes. When you are preparing material, this is a good time to seek help. The way we take in information when we sit and listen to a speaker is very different to the way we process information that we read. So often presentations consist of somebody standing up and reading Powerpoint slides to their audience. Or they read a long and complicated piece of text. This is particularly the case when presenting technical information. Both of these approaches are, unfortunately, extremely common and are guaranteed to put people to sleep very quickly! An audience needs information delivered to them in easily digestible, ‘bite sized’ portions. The successful speaker contacts the audience at a human level and brings alive the material that they deliver. Even experienced speakers find it difficult to edit their own material.
Can you help me to soften my accent?
Yes. The issue here is not the accent but whether you are speaking clearly enough to be understood and to get your message across? It is usually an unrealistic aim to hope that you can eradicate a foreign or regional accent completely and why would you want to? It is also important not to isolate work on softening or clarifying an accent from a client’s overall vocal development – you need to work on both.
I have a fear of public speaking. Can you help me?
Yes! You and 95% of the population! There are various approaches to this – hypnotherapy and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) to name but two. All of these approaches have their place. The advantage of vocal development is that you overcome your fears through the following very practical means:-

Understanding how your voice and breathing work
Learning new skills that will improve your vocal instrument, give it more power and give you more control over it
Understanding and improving your use of body language, including eye contact
Through all of these you can greatly increase your confidence. Many good speakers feel nervous and are able to control and channel that nervous energy. This is often what makes them excellent communicators. Learning how to feel confident with this energy is essentially the same, regardless of the many and varied situations people find themselves in. For example job interviews, auditions, presentations, professional appraisals and wedding speeches.

Why are vocal development and improving presentation skills important?
There are very few professional jobs these days that don’t require us to communicate effectively, attend meetings, present information etc. Regrettably our formal education provides little training for this. We live in a very competitive world. People are more successful if they communicate well, come over as confident and can professionally present both themselves and information. A voice is a delicate instrument and can be strained or even damaged. It is one of our most vital communication tools, learning how to use it properly is important.

What people are saying..

PhD Researcher at University of Exeter
I just wanted to let you know my talk went very well last week. My supervisor saw it and has said on several occasions that it was excellent, so I’m pretty happy with that! Thank you also for the help you gave me with the preparation of the material and the most recent edits you suggested – they really helped on those tricky slides. So all in all a rare positive experience for presenting, which has definitely helped reduce my phobia of it. Thanks again, I wouldn’t have done so well without your help.
Ladies Golf Captain; Devon
I just wanted to let you know how I got on yesterday. I managed to stay calm on the day and although I had to read most of my speech I certainly carried it off in a far better manner. The resolution was amended and so we had plenty of ladies giving their views, but I did manage to control them! In the end I had to call for a 5 minute break so we could discuss what to do so quite a baptism of fire. People say that I did well and I am pleased with my performance! Would not like too many like that though. Very many thanks for all your help I think now I just have several speeches thanking the green keepers and caterers, far more manageable.
Trainee Teacher; Exeter
As a trainee teacher, I was finding it hard to keep the class interested and engaged in my lessons. Gerald assessed my speaking and quickly introduced me to some exercises which would help me project and vary the intonation of my voice. The exercises were short and simple and have provided me with the means to control my voice and use it as an effective tool in the classroom.
Trainee Hypnotherapist; Brixham
As a trainee Hypnotherapist I spend a lot of time talking and believe it vitally important to be able to narrate smoothly without annoying accent twangs and lazy diction. With a great deal of patience, understanding and fun Gerald is successfully helping to re-tune my speech. With each week I improve so does my confidence. Thank you Gerald!

Tel: 07584 436618
e-mail: info@devonvoicecoach.co.uk

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