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Hear ye! Your voice holding you back?

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in Workplace Communication

Who knew “a strong midwestern accent” was a bad thing?

Attorney Mary Sullivan thought so, and she thought she had one, too, which was holding her back from making her best possible cases in court.

Sullivan signed on with a voice coach, a serious commitment in both time and money.

Apparently, it’s a trend. Both the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, which traditionally helps people with disabilities, and the Voice and Speech Trainers Association report a rise in working with business professionals on their voices.

The trainer who helped Sullivan has seen a shift from working exclusively with performers and voiceover artists to taking on the general public, including doctors, CEOs and even a contestant on Top Chef.

“A great voice makes you sound more interesting, more intelligent and more trustworthy,” says coach Bettye Zoller.

It’ll cost you, though. Many lessons start at $100 per session with a minimum of six weekly lessons.

As for practice, most coaches ask for an hour a day with a tape recorder. That comes to more than 40 hours for overcoming a few verbal tics. Major transformations may require six months.

While results have never been quantified, Sullivan is happy. “I sometimes have people tell me that I have a pleasant voice, which never happened before,” she says.

— Adapted from “Voice coaches’ work strikes a chord,” Andrew D. Smith, The Dallas Morning News.

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