As a Voice Coach, I help many people to develop their speaking skills and requests come in regularly, asking for help with pronunciation, with confidence building or with clarity. Sometimes behind these requests lies a cry for help to become accepted into a work team or to be established as a team leader within a large organisation.
Our accent begins as soon as we begin to speak. We learn to speak from our parents, carers and teachers and build up speech patterns over the months and years. Children mimic what they hear and shape their articulators to replicate the sounds they hear.
Children can adopt the accent of their carers in pre-school, so they may sound quite different from their parents, but can easily adjust the sounds they make as the accent around them changes.
However, this skill can diminish over time and once that child leaves the familiar environment of home and school and embarks on a further education pathway, their accent might not ‘fit’ any more with the new social crowd they meet. At university, students from all over the world can meet up in a tutorial group (an online Zoom or Teams meeting currently) and for the first time encounter many accents different from their own.
Having an accent that is different from your peers can be quite a shock to begin with. Having an accent different from others can be isolating. Your accent very much represents your sense of self and to hear other people in your social group speaking in a different way can be disconcerting or even demoralising.
When this young adult goes out into the workplace, well-qualified with good prospects, often they can find it difficult ‘fitting in’ with their colleagues because their accent is not the same as the others.
When my new clients approach me in the first instance, they might ask about how to change their accent and it often transpires that behind this personal objective lies another hidden objective – ‘how can I fit in, speak like the others yet command respect as their manager through using my voice with authority?’
The voice work I offer to my clients covers accent change, of course, however, much of voice training or voice coaching focuses on developing accurate articulation, developing good posture and using the breath to underpin the voice. But there is more to voice coaching than changing your accent. Much of voice training with Voice Synergy comes from finding your sense of self, your values, your offer – what qualities and skills you represent.
Finding your sense of self through your voice allows you to become more comfortable. Being happy with the way you speak allows you to get on with the work you want to do. Avoiding accent change but finding the strength in yourself to speak with confidence, to speak with conviction and to speak with authority can be enormously freeing.
Some people ask for elocution lessons, however, it is the wider realm of vocal development that will help you really develop your sense of self. You can discover how to be more yourself and comfortable with the words and phrases you say. It can be incredibly empowering to release your voice to speak the words you want to say but have been too inhibited to express before.
Sometimes voice work is about finding out more about yourself and your own worth and when you begin to realise your own self and what you offer, your voice steps up to the mark and you really begin to sound like the person you want to be.
For more information on voice coaching or accent training, please get in touch.