The Two Sides of What I Do – Part 1

Published: 18 November 2023

Well, fancy meeting you here, in World Celebrant Week!

I bet you have a favourite singer or singers. And I expect that whenever you hear a singer, you quickly know how much you like what you hear (or not). You assess their singing. Do you go through the same process when you hear somebody speaking? Do you have any favourite speaking voices?

Not many people do. That’s strange, if you think about it. Do you notice speaking voices at all?

Are there any voices on television or radio that you like? There was a time when broadcasters’ voices sounded more attractive than the average voice in the street. Not so much now! Almost anything goes. I’m not complaining about accents in the media. I like hearing different accents. No, it’s the voice quality I’m on about: the actual sound. Is it pleasant or not? And often, it’s not. Years ago, all we ever heard on radio and TV were posh voices. That wasn’t ideal – but at least the actual sound was usually agreeable, not harsh and strangled as it often is now.

And, maybe the fact that there aren’t many examples of attractive voices on our airwaves has led to us not having pleasant-sounding role models.

Despite this downward trend in voice quality, all is not lost! About 18 months ago I mentioned in a blog someone I like to think of as Call-Centre Woman.

I was chasing up a fault with my broadband, and it was almost worth having to get it sorted just so I could listen to this woman’s voice. It was warm, beautiful – and she had a personality to match. When I complimented her on it, she told me that a lot of callers said nice things about the way she spoke. So, an attractive voice can be recognised and appreciated! In which case why do so many people who speak in public, including celebrants, have voices that are not a thing of beauty? It does make a difference. The occasional celebrants I’ve heard who do have good voices tell me that their voice and manner are commented on by people at their ceremonies, and it’s part of the reason they get a lot of work. Their voice is their not-so-secret weapon.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that celebrants (or any other public speaker) should put on a fake voice. I’ve heard people do that – and it sounds awful. I’m talking about knocking off a few rough edges and applying a bit of polish.

A Bit of Polish

With a bit of guidance and practice voices can be developed. You can sound better, become more expressive, and increase your vocal stamina and ability to project. It involves a slight change of mindset, and, you could say, some vocal gymnastics – as in exercising the voice in various ways so as to make it freer and less constricted. It’s not rocket science, but it does involve a bit of commitment and effort.

Why don’t more people put in that effort? Well, they may not have come across a vocal coach – especially one who specialises in working with celebrants (me 😊). And they might not be aware of their vocal limitations. With mirrors everywhere, we all know what we look like. But to know how we sound, we have to make the effort to record ourselves. Having done that, most people don’t like the result – partly because their voice might not be the best, but also because the recording doesn’t sound how they expect it.

An Ancient Recording Device

(The reason for this is that anyone listening [including a recording device], hears the sound that comes out of the speaker’s mouth. What the speaker hears, as they’re talking, is the sound that comes out of their mouth PLUS the conducted sound that travels directly through the bones of the skull to the ears.

Not That Sort!

The conducted and the airborne sounds are different to each other. So, the speaker hears a blend of the two as they’re speaking, but only the airborne sound when they play back the recording. This often comes as a surprise.)

It’s easy (and common) for people to have good intentions about regularly recording themselves, but to then find it a chore to practise; so they turn a blind eye (deaf ear) to the fact that they’ve stopped practising; and no progress is made.

I love working with clients on their voice – particularly celebrants. And I love, possibly even more importantly, working on their other secret weapon – their communication, which I’ll blog about in the next day or two.

I offer a free no-obligation chat (phone or Zoom) so you can see whether you’d benefit from working with me. Usually, the answer is yes. I work on a session-by-session basis. Some people book just one, and take it from there. Others commit to between two and four sessions. I charge £70 for a one-hour session. (And as someone remarks in the testimonials, I’m generous with my time.) When you get to four sessions, you get a fifth one, free of charge.

This blog tells you why I’m highly qualified to be a celebrant voice, presentation and communication coach.


07469 957 199