Voice Synergy News

How to cope when you’re feeling anxious at home

Guided relaxationI have recently made a relaxation recording for Bath Radio to help with feeling of anxiety as we are faced with isolation in lockdown. I though this might also be useful to you or any friends or family who are feelings anxious at this time. The relaxation exercise lasts for just over three minutes, so I hope you can relax and enjoy a bit of time to yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hello, I’m Debbie Chatting and I’m here to help you if you have any feelings of anxiety at this time. As usual, I’m going to suggest you find somewhere quiet and comfortable to sit down and relax… and today, we’re going to focus on just breathing.

“Breathing recharges our whole system with oxygen and energy and it’s something we can often forget to do! When we’re anxious, those feelings can transfer to tension in our body, making it more of a challenge to allow all that wonderful oxygen to flow into our lungs.

“When you’re comfortable in your quiet place, let your eyes close… place your hands loosely in your lap… close your mouth, relax your jaw and let your next breath in… gently filling your lungs with air…

“You might notice your stomach moves gently out as you breathe in… that’s quite normal, it’s making room for your lungs to expand.

“Breathe out either through your mouth or nose, whichever feels more comfortable… and relax your shoulders.

“When your breath is out, close your mouth again and let the air flow back in through your nose and fill your chest and lungs again….

“The nose acts like an amazing cleaner to the air you breathe in… the air passing in through your nose is gently warmed, cleaned and even moisturised, ready for your lungs to enjoy and pass the oxygen around your whole body.

“It’s a wonderful relaxed rhythm… breathe into the bottom of your lungs if you can imagine it, and gently let the air flow out again in a relaxed, regular rhythm.

“Think about your shoulders and let them loosen, think about your eyes, closed and relaxed and feel your muscles in your face soften.

“As you breathe in your next breath, think about your legs and knees… and as you breathe out, let all your muscles in your lower body soften and relax.

“Move your thoughts to the muscles in your shoulders and arms… let them calmly unwind and let your shoulders drop….

“Now keep the flow of your breath calmly moving in and out of your lungs and gently tense your toes and relax them.

“On the next breath, tense your hands, then relax them, and finally… tense your shoulders then relax and soften the muscles in your shoulders and your neck.

“Now I’d like you to think of something to make you smile… And on the next outbreath, slowly open your eyes… Take a few moments to re-adjust, before quietly getting up out of your chair and calmly returning to your day.

“I hope this helps you feel more relaxed and comfortable and ready to cope with the things that come your way.

“This is Debbie Chatting, I’m thinking of your and I’ll speak to you again soon.”

Poetry for Reading Aloud

Voice Synergy, voice training, poetry, social distancing, self-isolating, learn poetry, John Masefield, voice coaching, speech training, accent training, accent coaching, distance, two metres apart, isolation, in touch, positive poetry, positive speech, motivation, speaking aloud, voice warm up, active voiceWhat unprecedented times we are living in. Wherever you are, social distancing or self-isolating, this is just to let you know that our thoughts go out to all of you who are affected by what’s going on.

What can we do to keep our mind and body together?

There are lots and lots of things to keep the body fit and moving and for those active souls, Mr Motivator is back on TV and so is the Green Goddess! But what about things to keep your mind fit and active?

This month, I thought it would be nice to have a poem or two to think about and to help keep your voice exercised. Perhaps a poem that could even be memorised by heart? I found it really tricky trying to identify a positive, happy poem. Most poets from the days of yore were quite a melancholy lot and I’m definitely steering away from anything downbeat!

I came across this modern poem and loved it for its potential relevance to every family that finds itself in social distancing and/or self-isolation at these bewildering times of loo roll shortages and absent packets of pasta.

This poem by Kim Moore imagines brawling in a family, a typical ‘domestic’ where even the doors go off in a huff and the bed only just survives collapse! The love of the family shines through in the last lines.

In Praise of Arguing
by Kim Moore

And the vacuum cleaner flew

down the stairs like a song
and the hiking boots
launched themselves

along the landing.

And one half of the house
hated the other half
and the blinds
wound themselves around
each other.

And the doors flung

themselves into the street
and flounced away
and the washing gathered
in corners and sulked.

And the bed collapsed
and was held up by books
and the walls developed
scars and it was a glorious,
glorious year.

A more traditional poem, Sea Fever, by John Masefield, describes the pull of the sea and the adventures he longs for once again. Like everyone today, confined in or close to our homes, this is to inspire using memories of fabulous former times and imagining a future full of promise once more.

Sea Fever
By John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

I hope you enjoy reading these poems aloud, even memorising them. Poetry is a wonderful way to use words full of sounds, emotions and tone to express yourself. You could even try your hand at a poem yourself. It would be lovely to hear from you with your works.

We are continuing to voice coach, but of course, remotely by Skype.

Wherever you are, stay well and keep your spirits up. Sing, speak and stay in touch with each other.

Accent Discrimination

Barriers to employment – People will judge you, based on how you speak

BBC image

Many people come to Voice Synergy for help with accent reduction or accent softening to help with their career. Some people speak English as a second language and want help with pronunciation, others feel that their English accent isn’t good enough and want help with clarity and articulation.

On 19 February 2020, the following interview about the English accent took place on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. It’s about discrimination based on accent and how an MP and a barrister have overcome this problem. Here is the transcript of the interview conducted by BBC’s journalist and presenter, Jon Sopel, talking to Hashi Mohamed, barrister and Jess Phillips, MP. 

Hashi Mohamed: “Employers have admitted accent discrimination. So there IS a problem out there in terms of people discriminating based on accent. 

“So it seems to me, then, you are faced with a choice. Do you change the way you speak to try and get on, or do you say ‘Well actually, to hell with the rest of them, I will speak the way I want to speak’ and see what happens.

“And it seems to me that’s the fundamental choice for the individual as well as society. And it affects questions in a class system right through.”

Jon Sople: Jess Phillips, I can’t believe that anyone would discriminate on the basis of their accent without getting a clip round the ear.

Jess Phillips: “I don’t know, is the answer. Before working in Westminster, I worked in Birmingham in the Black Country where everybody spoke like me so they probably didn’t discriminate against me on those grounds. Had I had to sit for the Bar and wanted to be a lawyer in a London Chambers, maybe they would have done, in fact it sounds like… they absolutely would have. 

“My father who has a very strong Birmingham accent, when I was a kid, he used to tell me that the way I said my vowels meant that I wouldn’t get a job and he was obviously really concerned about it and used to say, you should try and pronounce your vowel sounds, ‘cause in Birmingham we said ‘oy’ instead of ‘I’ and he would pick me up on it. And actually, I really railed against him as I found it really irritating not for social justice reasons, just because I was a teenager.

“The reality I think for me, is my Birmingham accent has been one of the single greatest assets that I have.”

Jon Sople: “Why? Because it makes you different – because it makes you stand out, in the Westminster context?”

Jess Phillips: “In Westminster until more recently, two conservative members of parliament have been elected, they don’t represent Birmingham, but they have Birmingham accents, and some of the other Birmingham MPs also have Birmingham accents and their heritage comes from Kashmir as well, so their accent is slightly different. But I did feel like the only person who talked like me in Westminster –  and therefore the only person who talked like the people who I represent. I think that that does make me stand out. Also, it is a very, very quick technique when you need people to trust you in the context of being a constituency MP, when people are telling you a terrible crisis, people will trust you very immediately because you sound like them.” 

Jon Sople: “And Hashi, don’t you think that there is a sort of a turning… maybe now, to have a southern accent, maybe like the one I have, is perhaps a disadvantage? 

Hashi Mohamed: “It’s a very good point about trust and the way you speak, and I very much understand that, what Jess says there. But we also have to try and make a distinction between wholeheartedly changing your accent, or other factors such as what’s often referred to as accent softening, or registers and code switching, formal and informal language, but it is clear to me that if you are trying to get on, and the research I’ve looked into for my book, that depending on where you’re trying to go and what kind of career you’re trying to forge for yourself, people will judge you based on how you speak. 

“… There’s absolutely nothing terrible about looking at your future and deciding for yourself what you want to do. Now the BBC has a duty, I believe, to make sure that more regional accents are represented, because what that then does – is it changes the consciousness of people so that we can get to a place where people are not associating certain accents with pejorative things, which is something that Jess has talked about as well.”

Jon Sople: I would guess that Jess Phillips, if people kind of trust you, because of the way you speak, it’s because you seem authentic and isn’t that the danger that if you start trying to change your accent – and I could name some upper people at the Palace of Westminster who you feel have got extraordinarily pained accents because they have tried to make themselves posher than they are – you don’t trust them, because they seem inauthentic.”

Jess Phillips: “I think that is absolutely right, but to cut them some slack, I didn’t feel I ever had to do it. I’m much more of a ‘take me as you find me’ sort of person… If there are certain professions, you can’t say that – because people will think you’re stupid, one of the discriminations I have definitely suffered… is that we have to go a few more bars along the way to prove to people that we are not stupid because we have regional accents – and I get called stupid ALL the time. I put a lot of that down to the fact that I have a Birmingham accent. But, I couldn’t do it… I couldn’t change my accent even if I wanted to, I don’t think. I would struggle with it deeply.”

End of interview.

If you want help with your English accent or just want some help with speech clarity for interviews, please get in touch, we’ll be glad to help. 

Speaking on the telephone

Telephone skills, talking on the phone, cold calling, speaking on the telephone, Voice Synergy speech coaching, speech coaching, telephone conversation, how to speak well, making a telephone call, how to use your voice, phone skills, cold calling, establishing rapport, Voice Synergy accent reduction“I don’t mind speaking to people, I’d rather email them, really, but I just hate using the phone.”

Does this sound familiar? Many of our work colleagues are increasingly unused to having a good telephone conversation. As texts and emails are favoured for their ‘audit trail’ advantages, everyday speech skills at work can suffer through lack of use.

Some years ago, I worked for a government department and asked my line manager where a colleague could be found in the building. “Oh, I have her email address, just send her a message,” smiled my manager.

“Oh, that’s OK, I’ll go and see her – where’s her desk?”

This visibly shook my manager – he was almost speechless. “Do you mean speak to her face to face?”

“Well, yes,” I said. “I always prefer to speak to people. You get to know them that way and they get to know you too.”

This seemed to be a revelation for my manager. He waved me away with an ‘on your head be it’ expression on his face, not understanding the benefits of conversation.

It’s one thing to speak face to face, but quite another to use the phone to speak to someone you have never met before. How do you begin? What about if they are busy? What on earth should you say? Worst of all, what might they think of you?!

These questions could be enough to put you off calling the phone number in the first place. All the negative possibilities can add up and you could easily convince yourself not to pick up the phone and speak to someone.

Let’s pause for a moment and focus on ten positive outcomes of having a telephone conversation.

Ten Positive Outcomes of Having a Telephone Conversation

  1. You can bring a welcome voice to the other person’s day
  2. You can bring interesting or useful information
  3. Questions that arise can be immediately answered or discussed
  4. You can use the pitch and tone of your voice to give context to your words
  5. There is a high likelihood of your message being understood
  6. Non-verbal language (pauses, hesitation sounds – ‘hmm, errr, yes/no’ – speed of speech, tone of voice, etc.) can be interpreted and responded to, instantly
  7. Misunderstandings are much less likely
  8. Much more information can be covered in a conversation than in an email or text
  9. Other useful information could come to light as a result of your chat
  10. Trust and a positive relationship can be established.


As a footnote to this:
Follow up behaviour after your telephone call is important – ensure you write up the key points discussed and agreed, include dates, times, deadlines as appropriate and then send this as an email to act as your audit trail.

Now we have established ten important benefits of having a telephone conversation at work, let’s think about how to make it a success.

Before you make your phone call, think about the other person. Who are they; what do they want? This is key. Identify how you can give them something that will make their work life easier. Focusing on their objectives will help you shape the content of your phone call. Over and above everything else, think: what’s in it for them?

Here are Five top tips on “How to use your voice on the telephone”.

Five Top Tips to Using your Voice on the Telephone

  1. Breathe before you speak
  2. Speak more slowly than you do in a face to face situation
  3. Use more intonation than usual
  4. Listen to the other person
    1. What they say
    2. What they’re not saying
    3. How they are saying it
  5. Respond to them, being interesting and be useful.


Making effective telephone calls at work is a skill and a skill well worth developing. It is tempting to ‘get the call out of the way’, or to ‘get the other person off the line’ as soon as possible, but re-establishing your mind set to think about the other person’s needs is vital to the success of the phone call.

Whether you make occasional calls to colleagues, suppliers or clients, or have a target for making cold calls, always think about the person on the other end of the phone. Your voice and how you use it, is key to establishing a good rapport and a good telephone conversation can lead to a much more positive and productive workplace.

For more information about Telephone Skills training and how to use your voice effectively, please get in touch.

Your Christmas presence

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The Christmas season is upon us and throughout the festivities, your voice will be called on again and again to perform.

But in between the late nights, social office parties and maybe slightly over-doing the sparkling cocktails, more-ish mulled wine or Christmassy craft beers, work must go on. And you need to keep up and lead vital conversations.

Somehow, due to awful scheduling, the day after your office party, you’re presenting to an important potential client and your performance has to be top-notch. But wait, your senior manager has called in sick and you have to take over the vital team talk of the new department. And right up there, is the second interview for your new job – the one you really, really want.

Where to begin and how can you back-peddle to make amends for the voice-affecting late night and all that partying? A croaky voice never impressed anyone.

The human body is made up of around 60% water and this can drop significantly after a night’s binge. The vocal folds in the larynx in particular need plenty of moisture to work properly as they need to move and vibrate to create the sound of your voice. The better shape they’re in – the better your voice will sound.

Therefore, give your voice a really cool present this year. Give your voice water, plenty of hydration – even before you go out to celebrate. Leave a large glass of water out on the side (preferably where you won’t knock it over when your come back in your happy-Christmas state) ready to drink when you stagger in.

Next morning, drink water at breakfast (if you can manage it) with your usual cup of tea or coffee and have another glass when you get to work. Sip water frequently to help your voice perform, it will help keep you present, too.

When you’re making your speech, pitch or presentation the morning after the night before, take a large vessel of water with you. You will sound better if you keep your voice hydrated with small mouthfuls of refreshing H2O.

Sipping water is also a good technique to give you a bit of extra thinking time, too. It’s amazing how quickly the brain can fire off new ideas for you in the time it takes to raise a glass. By the time you’ve swallowed a few drops of water, new creative ideas could be brimming at your lips, ready to enthuse and impress your audience.

Just to sum up, then, here are three top tips for Christmas presence for your voice.

To help avoid a croaky, strained, thin voice the morning after the night before:

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after your Christmas celebrations
  • Plan ahead and put out glasses of water to drink when you get home
  • Sip generous amounts of water throughout the next day.

Rehydrate steadily and thoroughly – your voice will repay you by giving you much more Christmas presence. And your fabulously lubricated voice could mean a new client win this side of Christmas, getting that new job or even being promoted as you did such a good job in your manager’s absence.

How about that for a fully vocal Happy Christmas?

Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year from Voice Synergy.

For help with your voice issues, please get in touch.

Accent and your interview

Voice Synergy accent coaching, voice training, interview shock, interviewer dismay, voice coaching, accent reduction, good impression, better voice, how to impress, Voice Synergy accent reduction, how to speak posh, create a good impression, speak more clearly, better speech, impress at interview, using the right accent, speak to impressOne of the last bastions of prejudice that is still going unchallenged. You go into the interview room and as soon as you open your mouth and start speaking, the interviewer’s expression changes. You think you are being judged about your suitability for the role within seconds of beginning to speak.

Accent and your interview –

Many people want to hear the same accent spoken as they speak themselves. In an interview being conducted by a ‘Received Pronunciation’ (or RP as it is known) speaker, it is likely they will feel more comfortable hearing the same accent as their own.

But what if you don’t have an RP accent? And what is RP anyway?

RP is a non-regional accent and was originally the sound of the voices from private and boarding schools right across the UK more than a century ago.

RP is a region-free accent, which means it can come from Yorkshire, Edinburgh, Dorset or Norfolk; Cardiff, Kent or Kew. It is also the accent that is used as the British standard of pronunciation in the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries.

The reason for this is that it is a clear accent and easy to understand for most people, even those who speak English as a foreign or second language.

Today, it isn’t so ‘cut-glass’ as it used to be, however, and a range of RP accents can be heard today. RP is evolving and varies by geographical area and by generation, too. The most ‘pure’ form is still spoken by Eton graduates.

All accents are passed down through generations and have until recently marked out where you come from. We begin to learn how to speak in the first months of our lives and those closest to us give us a model of what our voice will sound like. As we grow older, however, we have exposure to many different accents. Role models are changing from parents, siblings and teachers who grew up in the same area and spoke with the same accents, to voices on TV and social media. These new accents are influencing people’s original accents and it is harder and harder to place exactly where someone ‘comes from’ due to an amalgam of different accents that can be blended together by the speaker.

So, what about your accent and your interview? Is it really holding you back? Many business leaders would say it is important to reflect the style of your organisation when you are at work. This could be your dress code, your telephone manner, your sales style (where much empathy is required with your customer or client) or indeed, the way you speak.

Fortunately, it is possible to have more than one speaking style, or accent.

Just like changing out of your business clothes into your leisure clothes after work, it is perfectly possible to change your speech style. The accent you use at work can be relaxed back to a more relaxed way of speaking at home or with friends in your ‘normal’ voice.

This is called accommodation, when we use the same style of speaking as each other according to the environment. One way of speaking with your colleagues and customers at work and another for leisure time. It’s like belonging to the same ‘team’.

Easy ways to change the way you speak at work, without changing your accent is to speak more clearly. Make sure you sound the ‘t’ in words like ‘better, continue, printed, situation’ and especially take time to make the sound at the end of words, like ‘sleep, week, inspect, receipt’. Enjoy the sound the word makes and take your time to find all the elements of the word as you speak it. Words with three or more syllables tend to be rushed. Words are important or you wouldn’t be saying them. Take time to transmit your ideas and allow time to let your words be processed by the listener. Pause slightly at the end of your sentence. Take a new breath for the next sentence. Speaking more slowly might seem a weird way to speaking more clearly, but it really will help with your clarity, whatever your accent.

You should find that this way of speaking will help in your next interview, where it is important to listen to the question and provide good answers to show your suitability. When you are invited to an interview, prepare and research the company and job beforehand, on the day give good answers to the questions – and ask some of your own – and make sure you follow the tips above.

For help with accent softening, interviews, public speaking or vocal confidence, or even for help to speak ‘a bit more posh’, get in touch, we’ll be glad to help.

Can I change my voice?

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Most of us aren’t happy with some aspect of ourselves, but given a bit of effort, many things can be changed. We can get fitter by increasing our time spent exercising, we can get a better job and earn more money by enrolling for extra skills training, we can change the way we look by investing in a new haircut, getting (or removing) spectacles or changing what style of clothes we wear.

In other words, by allocating time and effort, we can achieve things to make us feel better about ourselves.

Now, what about changing your voice? Many people get in touch to say they don’t like how their voice sounds. I have emails from professional people who want to change or lose their accent. Some people think their accent holds them back professionally because they have a regional or foreign accent. Fortunately, at Voice Synergy, we can help you to improve the way you speak and change your voice.

What do you need to do to change the way you sound?

Just like the things listed at the top of this article, in order to make a difference, you need to invest some time and effort into the process of changing your voice.

The way you speak has been learned over many years and change takes time.

What is involved in changing the way you speak? There are so many elements to speaking well – changing the way you speak is not just ‘speaking posh’! The following are important aspects to getting a better sounding voice:

 

  1. The way you breathe makes a difference to how you sound
  2. Your posture makes a big impact on the quality of your voice
  3. Waking up your vocal folds in your larynx before you launch into a big speech will help with resonance and how your voice carries
  4. Using the muscles in your tongue, lips and soft palate in the proper way will give your speech clarity
  5. Your positive attitude to the conversation or presentation will augment your impact.

 

It is possible to look online and research the above list and there will be plenty of videos uploaded; some by experts but also many by so-called ‘experts’. If you are intending to invest time and money into speech and voice training, make absolutely sure you are being taught by a professionally trained and qualified speech and voice coach who will teach you well.

Bad habits are easy to acquire but very difficult to get rid of. Changing the way your voice sounds is all about changing your old habits and learning new ways of speaking and it’s essential that those new habits are the right ones.

This week I have been working with a client who speaks English as a second language and we focussed on the pronunciation of the ‘R’ sound. This lady kindly told her sons about the solution she had found with me, as they were both struggling to pronounce ‘R’ correctly, too. They instantly ‘got it’ and said, ‘Tell your voice teacher she is the best!’  It is really gratifying to enable my clients and their families to speak so that they can settle into more ‘Englishness’ and feel like they ‘belong’. Too many people suffer from a sense of being outsiders, just because their accent doesn’t sound right to others.

If you, your family or your work colleagues would like help with speech, accent or voice, please get in touch. I will be pleased to help.
Debbie Chatting (MA Voice Studies, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)

What is “polish”?

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The Oxford English Dictionary defines polish as follows:

“Refinement, culture: elegance of manner. The glossy polish that the best English boarding schools can sometimes provide.”

Interestingly, the action of polishing is described as, “glossiness of surface produced by friction or the application of a coating”.

This would suggest that polish is either applied as a top coat, or achieved through some physical effort. If this is the case, then why shouldn’t anyone be able to become polished?

The OED also describes polish as “Free from roughness, rudeness, or coarseness; make more elegant or cultured: refine, improve. Bring to a finished state.”

Along with speaking English with a non-regional specific accent (BBC English, posh English or Queen’s English as it is known), your ease in communicating, ability to engage others and general confidence are very important criteria in securing a senior job role. See ‘How to Break into the Elite’ BBC Two.

Let’s look at the component parts of polish as they apply to a person and how it might be possible to become more polished.

Let’s take these points one by one.

  1. Ease of communicating
    Everyone might think this is second nature. Communicating is just talking to people, isn’t it? No. Communicating effectively might be the hardest single thing you have to do in an interview. Communicating includes active listening, thinking and speaking. You must listen to the question and interpret it correctly, formulate a sensible answer, with examples, then speak out loud to the interviewer in a way that is interesting and relevant.
  1. Ability to engage others
    How on earth do you begin to engage other people in your ideas and opinions? A combination of factors come into play here, all concerned with how you use your voice. You can control the tone of your voice quite easily and to be effective in an interview situation, remember to use a positive tone of voice. When I worked as a broadcaster on BBC radio, I was told there are two fundamental rules to being a successful broadcaster: be yourself and be interesting. These rules stood me in very good stead and gave me the confidence to develop a sunny and relaxed radio persona. If you are confident in your abilities and have a genuine wish to share your thoughts with others, you will naturally sound engaged. Remember, however, to ask questions of the other person and listen and pay attention to their answers. Reply honestly and with intelligence.Your body language also comes in to play here. Using Alexander Technique to stand or sit in a comfortable, alert posture (being present as it is known in drama school), your body and voice will work together to create a powerful presence.When you successfully engage with others, you become a powerful influence and demonstrate that you have ability and aptitude to lead.
  2. Confidence
    You have achieved the goal of getting an interview. At this point, remember that you have been invited to interview as a possible employee. Be confident in your knowledge, your education and the experience you bring to the role. You would not have been asked for the interview unless you were a serious contender for the job.Try to enjoy the experience of the interview and relish the opportunity to take the interviewer on a journey with you to show them how suitable you are for the position.Think of the interviewer as a friend rather than a ‘blocker’ to your ideal job role.Remember to smile when appropriate, speak clearly and take your time.Remember to breathe in before you begin to speak. This might sound obvious, but taking the time to breathe means that you will have plenty of fuel (air) to power your voice. When you breathe in, you take in oxygen which refreshes your brain and provides inspiration. When you speak, your ideas come out as words with your voice. Take time to explain your ideas rationally and calmly with your voice well supported by your breath.

Ease in communicating, ability to engage others and general confidence are very important criteria in securing a senior job role.

Polish is a complex combination of attitude, confidence and elegance of manner. Developing good speech and posture goes a long way towards achieving the polish which is looked for by prospective employers. 

The next thing to do is practise. Practise speaking aloud on your own on any topic that you are familiar with. Make some notes to guide you, then go ahead and introduce your topic, say three relevant things about it, then conclude.

Breathe in before you speak. As you breathe in, think about what you are going to say, then say it. Don’t deviate, don’t allow yourself to get distracted or go off at a tangent. Just make the point, stick to it, then stop speaking, breathe in again and speak the next idea. This will slow you down and focus your mind. 

Practice makes perfect; practising good speech will help you to achieve the desired polish.

For help to develop the polish you need, using communication skills, engaging with others and general confidence, please get in touch.

 

Voice Coaching and Accent Reduction in Bath

Voice Synergy moving to Bath, voice coaching, voice training, Voice Synergy relocation, accent softening, accent reduction, speech training, presentation skills training, mumbling, voice coaching in Bath, voice coaching in Bristol, speech training in Bath, speech training in Bristol, stop mumbling, speak clearly, training for speech and drama, accent coaching, training and coaching for speechThis month Voice Synergy is celebrating its move to Bath! This exciting relocation means that Voice Synergy will not only continue to provide outstanding voice and accent coaching to corporate and private clients in Bristol, but can now easily work with Bath-based professionals too.

What can you expect from Voice Synergy in Bath? You will discover improved training facilities in a convenient location not far from Bath Spa station. You will benefit from exceptional voice coaching delivered by Central School of Speech and Drama-trained Voice and Accent Coach and highly experienced business communications specialist, Debbie Chatting (MA Voice Studies, MA Marketing).

From July 2019, we are based near Bath city centre, just a short walk from Bath Spa railway station, which means that voice and accent coaching is closer than you think. If you are based in Bristol, then Bath is just a short train journey from Bristol Temple Meads. Just like getting the tube in London. And if you are based in London, you now have access to individual voice coaching of the highest quality, as Bath Spa is less than 90 minutes from London Paddington. 

There are numerous people who work with Voice Synergy to improve the quality of their speech and accent. Professionals, such as lawyers (barristers and solicitors) and medical professionals gain clarity and confidence from speech training. Professors, lecturers and readers are also among our clients who seek to become more fluent, articulate speakers, particularly on the lecture circuit. Engineers, dentists, entrepreneurs, software developers and scientists have all developed more confidence, clarity and impact, thanks to Voice Synergy voice coaching.

In Bath, we are delighted to welcome clients who have been on our waiting list for speech and accent coaching. In spite of Brexit, many people who speak English as a second language continue to work and enrich life in the UK. Voice Synergy helps these valued professionals to speak with a more ‘BBC English’ accent, to become an even greater asset. Accent reduction is available to small groups or individually.

Bath is known as home to the ancient Roman Thermal Baths as well as being a most beautiful city, styled in the Georgian era, when Jane Austen’s characters walked and talked along the streets of the City. Today, we have Bath United Hospital, the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, as well as the tourist and entertainment industries, employing staff who spend much of their time in conversation with their clients. Voice and accent coaching could be of significant benefit to these staff to improve the quality of their interpersonal skills, whilst enriching their customer experience. 

A recent client said:

“The reason I signed up for a voice coaching course was to help me build confidence in front of my team. I was told by my boss that I had a quiet voice and tended to mumble. Even after just the first session, I began to speak with more confidence and find my voice. My line manager has now given me more responsibility and a pay rise, too. Debbie is an excellent teacher who certainly knows how to inspire you to get the best from your voice!”

If you are looking to improve your vocal communication skills, soften your accent, or want to brush up on your presentation skills, please get in touch for more information and a free consultation. 

Struggling with your English accent?

French accent, accent reduction, galloping ahead, French horse, change your accent, English accent, English accent coaching, speak BBC English, challenge your accent, speak with an English accent, accent reduction coaching, galloping horse, new speaking habits, Voice Synergy, difficulty pronouncing English, white galloping horse, muscle memory, new accent training, accent skillsDuring a visit to France a few years back, we attended a Medieval banquet and tournament, organised and hosted by the Vendeens. As we filed through to the banqueting hall, we were given blue cardboard crowns and shown to our seats at a large scrubbed table laid with tin plates and pewter mugs filled to brimming from a large pitcher of red wine.

Amidst a sea of red crowns – at this point we realised the English visitors were identified by blue (of which there were not many) and the French, red – the banquet got underway and the entertainment began. A swaggering French soldier sauntered up and began speaking to his friend about the English army in French. How unprepared they were, how unprofessional and had his friend heard their pathetic attempts at speaking French? This was all done in very good humour and had us all laughing.

What was so interesting was that as soon as he began to imitate the English soldiers speaking French with an English accent, it was much easier to understand than when he was speaking French with a true French accent!

We learn our own language from a very early age and have all the muscles in our articulators strengthened, in good shape and available to make the sounds of the English language. Our ears find it easy to understand, developing our listening skills at the same time. Shifting our muscles as well as the rhythm and tune of our speech to sound like a French person, is incredibly challenging. This is why when a French speaker adopts an English accent, it sounds familiar to us and we understand better.

For example, look at the French expression, ‘Pour quoi?’ meaning ‘why?’. English vowel sounds in these words would be naturally longer than the French vowel sounds. The English pronunciation would be ‘Pour’ (as in pour me a drink). The next word ‘quoi’ would be pronounced ‘kwah’ (to rhyme with ‘car’ in English). However, in French, the two words become almost one, with the ‘Pour’ being a very short vowel ‘or’ sound after the ‘p’ and the ‘quoi’ being a rapid movement of the lips ‘kw’ followed by ‘a’. The French pronunciation would be “P’o-kw-a”.

Meanwhile, back in the banqueting hall, the English were getting a very bad press. The gallant knights were being knocked off their horses, the food was being ridiculed and the accent was being derided. Nevertheless, it was a wonderfully funny and memorable occasion, which reminds me still how important it is to try to speak a foreign language with a good accent.

When I teach clients who speak English as a second language, they retain much of their original accent to begin with, which means the way they pronounce their words as well as the rhythm and tune of their speech. Accent reduction is a combination of a variety of different aspects of speech that takes time and requires practise until it becomes second nature. As the accent reduction coaching continues, new muscle memory can be stimulated and embodied so that speaking English well as a second language becomes a more natural, enjoyable and confident skill, whatever your first language happens to be.