Are you serious about podcasting? Do you love it? Want to grow your show and take it to the next level? Well, it might be time to look into hiring a voice coach. You might get surprised by how much work gets into making your voice sound good. You might ask what does sound good mean? Sounding good is different for everyone. However, it is really about honing your voice and identity and feeling comfortable on-air by showing who you are. To learn more about voice coaching, we are thrilled to talk with Emily Elmore. She is a highly-skilled voice coach who is passionate about empowering women—just our jam.
What Does a Voice Coach Do?
My style as a voice coach is to act as an expert set of unbiased ears. I have a toolbox full of exercises to improve how you sound on-air and achieve your goals. Most of what I do is listen to your voice as it is today. I listen to you speak about your experience of your voice, help you set goals, and help you bridge the gap to meet those goals.
How Did You Become A Voice Coach?
At the start of the pandemic, my work as an actor came to a screeching halt. I fell into a creative depression and started asking myself, “okay if I can’t be an actor right now because the industry is depleted, how else can I use my skills? Ideally, in a way that will be creatively fulfilling.”
Well, my favorite parts of being an actor are script work, voice work, and authentically connecting with others.
I mentioned all of this to my partner. She is a radio producer, and she wanted to help pull me out of my creative depression. We started reading to each other aloud: poetry, Shakespeare, cookbooks, you name it. She started asking me about my voice training and my actor training and eventually asked me to help her track something for work, and I did. She got great feedback and she was like, “Em, you should do this. You should be a voice coach for podcasts and radio.” So, I put my information out there online, and the emails came pouring in, and I’ve consistently had clients for months and months.
Do You Have Professional Voice Training?
My professional voice training started before I went to college at about 15. As actors, one of the first things you learn is how to connect with your diaphragm to speak or sing on stage to a crowd of hundreds or thousands of people, 8 shows a week, for months or years on end. I received a BFA in Acting with a Minor in Hearing and Deafness (audiology) from Emerson College in Boston, MA. My degree focused heavily on the Linklater Voice technique, which really resonated with me, so I went on to train more in-depth at Shakespeare & Company founded by Kristen Linklater. I rely heavily on this methodology for my voice coaching work by adapting it to work on the mic instead of on stage.
Should We See Our Voice As An Instrument?
Absolutely. At its core, the voice is a series of highly controlled sound waves resonating through our bodies and being filtered and articulated through our mouths. Unless you have a physical abnormality, all humans have a 2-4 octave range of speaking notes available to them. When many of us get up to speak, we shrink our voices down to just a few notes and speak in a monotone, which is not very compelling to listeners. Besides, we have built up a ton of tension in our bodies over the course of our lives. Clenching our jaw, grinding our teeth, hunching over the computer, etc. All of these things get in the way of accessing the well-tuned instrument of our voices.
Think of coaching as dusting off that old piano at grandma’s house and tuning it, and lubricating the keys to be played again. A well-maintained piano is much more pleasant to listen to than an untuned one, even if we can recognize the song.
Have You Noticed Any Differences in How Men and Women Use Their Voice On Air?
Well, I can only speak to the experience of women and non-binary voices on air because, though I would happily coach them, I have actually never had a male client reach out for a consultation.
From what I can tell, women receive a lot more feedback on their voices than men do.
Women come to me often saying a producer told them that their voices are “too high,” “too young,” “too casual,” the list goes on and on. And while I’m happy to explore these avenues to find more variance in your voice, in my opinion, this feedback is just coded language to say “you sound like a woman.” Unfortunately, male voices have dominated radio up until very recently. Our listener is used to hearing a male voice on the radio, and many people find it jarring to hear women's voices. How do we combat this? Well… we get more women’s voices on the radio! And no, you don’t just need to sound like an NPR broadcaster. I want to help you unlock your own unique voice for the work you are passionate about.
Can A Voice Coach Help Podcasters Take Their Show To The Next Level?
Absolutely. Our listeners have a natural, built-in "BS" detector, and we can not stand it when it goes off. Authenticity and passion for the topic you're discussing is key to connecting with listeners. Even in hyper-professional or broadcast settings, having a clear connection with your subject matter goes a long way, and makes the listener feel like they should care about what you're saying as well. If you emotionally connect with your work, they will too. If you have trouble expressing this connection, that's where coaching comes in really handy.
What Should We Expect From Your Voice Coaching Workshops?
We’ll start off with an in-depth understanding of how our voices work anatomically, as well as best practices for tracking. Then we’ll go into a 20-minute warm-up so you can experience how different you feel before and after getting connected to your voice. After that, we’ll discuss a few tools for breaking down your script for tracking, and end with a Q&A! If you choose to attend the smaller workshops, later on, we will dive in deeper and practice the tools we learned in the first session together, including giving and receiving peer feedback.
What you’ll need:
Enough space around you to stand up in front of your computer
- Enough privacy to make noise without distraction! 🙂
- A big glass of water
- Clean hands
- A clean paper towel
Any Favorite Project You Are Working On?
I got to work on a pilot for Pushkin Industries about a month ago, the host was at one point a concert violinist, so we spoke the same language and she took notes/direction very well. We started with a warm-up, and then I sat in on the tracking session with producers and gave feedback in real-time. The pilot got picked up but has not been announced yet, so I’ll spare the details.
But really, my favorite type of work is one on one with people who want to get to know themselves and their voices better through ongoing weekly coaching.
Without the producers' eyes or the deadlines looming, we can get into precise and deep corners of our work together. I see progress in a matter of weeks, which is really rewarding for both my clients and me.
- Aerobic For Your Voice – NPR Training – with printable PDFs for both talent and producer
- Finding Your Voice – NPR with Jessica Hansen
- Sound your best
- Sounding Like Yourself – How Sound