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I have a problem with my voice

If you are a professional voice user and have an issue with your voice it can be very distressing. Teachers suffer particularly badly. If you fear you have a serious problem by all means contact Talking Voice for advice, but you should seek medical help urgently. For information on how to go about this click here and then select the "I need help" tab.

About Talking Voice...

  • Introduction
  • Who am I?
  • What do I offer
  • Special events
  • Testimonials
  • NEW on the website

Professional help for the professional voice user

Some testimonials

Whether you are a teacher, lecturer, actor, telephone operator or a businessman who has to talk in public or the board room, you depend upon your voice. If you can use your voice in an interesting way you can make a bigger impact. If your voice fails it can be very distressing and confusing.

Since 2007, I have worked extensively with teacher training establishments, providing important knowledge for trainee and established teachers on keeping their voices healthy over a long career in a challenging environment. At the same time I provide insights into how to be creative through the voice to keep classes interested.

Click here for the Talking Voice Summer 2014 Newsletter.

Janet in workshop Janet running a Talking Voice workshop for student teachers

The business community has different needs to the education sector, though presenters still need to engage an audience with the voice. I run seminars and training days in the business community. Many private clients come to me individually to help prepare speeches for important conferences or for help in communication skills.

On this site there are downloadable resources, lots of advice from giving speeches at formal events to preserving your voice and podcasts to let you hear my suggestions directly to you. The tabs will lead you to courses currently on offer.

The Talking Voice CD offers continued support...

CD and coverBeautifully put together, Janet brings all her experience to bring fun speech exercises for improved communication and stamina to your home or workplace. The new Talking Voice CD will help you think about the demands your work makes upon you and your voice, and help you to face these constructively with advice and a carefully planned set of daily exercises. Go to page...

View the Talking Voice on-line brochure.Cover of e-brochure

The Talking Voice on-line brochure offers an in depth preview of Janet's work with teachers and trainee teachers. Click here to view the NEW EDITION on-line brochure.

Janet is a member of the British Voice Association.

Janet ShellJanet Shell is a professional singer and qualified teacher.

As a young Head of Music she transformed the dynamic within her school and gained valuable leadership experience. Upon leaving she trained as a singer at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Her subsequent performing career remains at the highest level nationally and internationally, working for such companies as the English National Opera, the Royal Opera Covent Garden and singing at such venues as the Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall, Birmingham and the Royal Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool. She was the first singer interviewed and to sing live on Classic FM, and she has sung for the BBC on Friday Night is Music Night and in many live broadcasts. A singer with a remarkable ability to communicate. In demand for opera and concert. She is equally at home presenting a light-hearted cabaret. Find out more...

Janet in concertShe has a busy singing teaching practice, but has set up Talking Voice to make her skills accessible to professional voice users other than singers. Janet is affiliated to a Harley Street clinic which specialists in voice dysfunction. Talking Voice coaches teachers and trainee teachers on their voice use in the classroom and gives guidance for executives preparing speeches at conferences.

What can Talking Voice offer?...

Talking Voice has been created to give you tools to boost your most potent weapon in successful communication - your voice. Using her experience as a former classroom teacher and now professional opera singer, Janet Shell has created courses to benefit two distinct areas of voice use:

  • the Classroom Teacher who has to keep a healthy voice for many hours a day throughout a career,
  • and the Business Executive who wishes to improve the skill of delivering a dynamic speech.

Running a workshopWorking with student teachers, newly qualified teachers as well as experienced teachers and lecturers, Janet opens up the world of voice projection, increased expressive range and improved tone quality. Studies consistently show that students retain information more readily from a trained voice. As a teacher will you increase your effectiveness whilst becoming more confident and developing tools for looking after your voice.

As a business becomes more successful, executives find they are called upon to deliver speeches in increasingly high profile situations and what passes for a confident ten minute talk in a board room, is less obviously dynamic in a large conference hall where the requirement is more akin to a theatrical performance! Working with clients, Janet enables the transition by focusing on vocal quality and body language, which become second nature to a professional singer, and leads clients through the process to inspirational and engaging communication with their audience.

Talking Voice has an exclusive partnership with news reader and journalist Peter Sissons for larger conference situations. Calling upon their combined experience of over 60 years, Janet and Peter deliver their recipe for powerful communication.

Need help with preparing a for special event?...

Singing at a wedding

Janet singing at a wedding.

If you are preparing a speech for a private function and are not experienced in facing an audience, this can be very daunting. Whether you are preparing a wedding speech or needing to speak at a funeral, the emotion of the occasion can be overwhelming. There is nothing more reassuring than being thoroughly prepared. In her career as a singer, Janet is frequently asked to sing at weddings and sadly funerals. Ask her to help prepare your speech and then deliver it with confidence.

 


Weddings

FIVE TOP TIPS FOR WEDDING SPEECHES

  • Have water handy. Speaking over distance, even with a microphone, coupled with nerves leaves your mouth dry
  • Before you speak, take slow, low breaths, You may not wish to, but it will make a difference, by releasing your larynx and opening up your throat. Your voice will be lower and freer and you will have given yourself some much needed extra time
  • Make a note of how constricted (tight) your throat feels on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most) and try and get it under 4
  • Prepare your speech so you just have reminders of what you want to say, not every word, and put them on small cards but in big print. This way you will be much more natural
  • Keep your eye level up, look above guests' heads if looking directly at them is too awful! Slow speech down and really focus on the first sentences which will give you time to settle

Funerals

Possibly the worst thing one is ever asked to do is to talk publicly at a funeral or memorial service. Not only do you have the usual nerves but also your grief and that of those around you which compounds the stress on your voice. Below are some helpful hints on that moment when you have to deliver. Janet has had to sing at several funerals and memorials, so knows what it takes to get through the moment.

  • Know that you are going to feel dreadful. It may sound like an obvious thing, but allow yourself to be prepared for that.
  • Being asked to speak at a funeral is a privilege. It is an honour to be asked to give your impressions of the person but it will take a lot of time to prepare. Give yourself as much time as possible because in bringing back happy memories, you will grieve too.
  • Strange though it sounds, delivering your "speech" needs the same commitment as any other public speaking event and it will serve you well to prepare for it as for any other presentation.
  • Leading up to the day you need to practise your speech and preferably in front of somebody, who may well get upset. This is good practice.
  • On the day, you will face many grieving people and this will upset you. You may well have to listen to others speaking and feel distressed. Try not to really listen to the speech before the one you have to give. Concentrate on other things you have to do, make a list of the jobs which need doing - do anything to avoid getting drawn into the previous speech. You can grieve after your own contribution. Mutter under your breath if you have to, but do not listen!
  • As you stand in front of people, know that you will momentarily become the focus of their pain and they are unlikely to be able to control this. Take your time and breathe deliberately long, slow breaths before you start and envisage yourself as a taller, wider, stronger person. Have a role model in mind if that helps. Feel that you can touch the walls of the building with every part of you, grow internally to make yourself larger and more powerful.
  • If at any point during your talk you feel your throat constrict, get to the end of a sentence and stop to take in more air. Concentrate on that feeling of expansion and focus it on your throat. Feel the air arrive at the back of your throat several times before continuing.
  • Know that people will be crying in front of you. The first time you encounter this is shocking to your system, be prepared for it.
  • Your speech can have some lighter moments in it. In a strange way, you are celebrating the life of the deceased and happy memories are how the best of the person lives on. Use this occasion to recount funny moments and touching ones if you feel confident about not breaking down.
  • There is no shame in showing your difficulty in speaking, but you will best honour the occasions by thinking of this as another speech to be made in a practical way.
  • Be prepared to cry after you have sat down. The strain of "performing" will take its toll and you may well find yourself shaking. Also bizarrely, you may almost feel ecstatic - this is the endorphins of performance kicking in, so just go with the flow of that.
  • Above all, take your time and look up. Grief naturally means we are in a depressed state and our body does its best to preserve energy, so it will close down and your posture will show this, your eyes will be lowered - be counter intuitive, If you feel yourself slumping, deliberately sit or stand up and open your body.
  • View the process of the speech making on the day as a mechanical process and get into a very methodical frame of mind.

Reaction to Talking Voice workshops...

"I am very pleased to be associated with Talking Voice. Janet Shell is a brilliant voice teacher. If you have problems, she will help you solve them. If you think you are good, you can almost certainly become better - with all the benefits that can bring." Peter Sissons

"Awesome! Entertaining lecture with a very knowledgeable host Brighton University." PGCE student 2011

"The session was an excellent mix of important information and practical strategies for projection and protection of the voice. Your enthusiasm for the subject was evident and captured the interest of the students. It was a very worthwhile session and one great advantage is that it could be delivered to large groups of students as well as small groups without losing effectiveness." David Midwinter, Programme Leader, University of Cumbria

"Janet has been training graduate trainees for E-Qualitas for several years. Her professional training and background combine with her training as a teacher to give her a unique insight into the demands of teachers as professional voice users. Janet's training sessions are lively, active and enjoyable. The range of exercises to which she introduces our teachers are carefully chosen to raise awareness of the potential of the voice as a teaching tool. At the same time, there is a focus on how to pre-empt the recognised difficulties that, as professional voice users, teacher can encounter." Dr. Vivien Johnson, Director E-Qualitas

"Brilliant to think of own protection and how way we use voice because it can impact on everything we do and become a negative cycle if we let it... Excellent incorporation of theory and practice. Excellent exercises and tips on how to use your voice sensibly. I enjoyed all the activities." NQTs Bucks 2011

"Wonderful session. All parts very useful. I will be able to use them instantly. The best session we've had yet. Loved the different activities - fab... Very interactive and gave some useful tips without being embarrassing." Graduate teachers Bucks 2011

"Super friendly person who inspired everyone in how to use the voice in the classroom... I learnt strategies I can use personally and with the children... Great day, this is the first course that has allowed me to be a learner - thank you!... Excellent presentation with a superbly qualified instructor." NQTs Bucks 2011

"Tackling voice management to an audience of 230+ students was no mean feat and I thought the session was extremely informative as well as an enjoyable experience for our students. Many thanks." Dr. Mel Norman, University of Brighton, Sept. 11

"Incredibly useful to recover elements of teaching tools that might not be so obvious... Eye opening and thought provoking... Really good fun and insightful. Will be doing the exercises all the time! Amazing session! Got me thinking a lot and have been taking your advice." PGCE students Brighton University 2011

"Janet was very informative, interesting to listen to and to learn from - Information sheet really useful." MAND GTP 2010

"It forced me out of my comfort zone to speak amongst other adults on skills focused activities. I had to really consider what made me uncomfortable how I could apply it to my learning and teaching." E-Qualitas trainer teacher 2011

"Thanks to Janet for sharing hr thoughts and wisdom... Thank you for answering my numerous queries; it was a fabulously helpful day." E-Qualitas GT 2011

"Janet's knowledge of the anatomy of the voice is second to none and her experience as a teacher means that her delivery is second to none. She is funny, knowledgeable and interesting. She makes the day fly by and has lots of different activities, involving delegates in many diverse activities." MAND participant 2009

"Of all the sessions so far I think yours has had the most impact, making me think about how to care for my voice and now I would like to use it better - to be more 'colourful'! I am more aware that I clear my throat too often and am endeavouring to drink more (water!)." Graduate teacher, Kent, Jan 10

"Thank you so much for a thoroughly fabulous workshop. Our GTPs left feeling invigorated and full of ideas to take back to the classroom and strategies for their own health and well being." - ASK, Sept 09

"A great insight to voice projection and protection.... Ice breakers will be great for using with my tutor group and with new classes.... I am going to ask my subject mentor to observe my body language and voice projection.... I plan to video myself in the classroom and review with my subject mentor.... " - various participants from ASK, Sept. 09

"I have been a Team Manager for 15 years and have recently been taken on as a Training Manager. I will be delivering training to a class of 12 delegates, for call centre work (ages ranging between 18 and 30). My voice is quite low in pitch, I was practising as I was reading your reply and boy does it work (the breathing, smiling and aiming my voice) and I am in bed at the moment!"

"I'm graduating in December. It's because of you I passed! I'm very grateful to you. Thank you for the very good lessons." - graduate teacher LMU, 09

"Brilliant presentation; I was totally engaged throughout." - Participant, Lincolnshire

"The best workshop I have ever done." - Graduate teacher, Lincolnshire

"Thanks for the ASK training on Friday at Kingshill. I found this very useful. Much more than I originally thought that I would. I have learnt a lot of useful tips that I will incorporate into my teaching. The session was also a lot of fun." - Sacha, GTP programme Kent CC

"Really excellent. All parts really useful - a superb session, invaluable for any group of professionals who use their voice. Training should be compulsory for all trainees." - Merseyside and Cheshire GTP Consortium

"Really fun, useful and interactive - A fantastic speaker extremely engaging a wealth of knowledge and practical advice throughout the day." - Graduate teacher, Hope University

"Another cracker! Well done and thank you." - Mand, Liverpool 2009

"Trainees really benefitted from the session. Thanks." - BASS, Birmingham

"It was a pleasure meeting you again last Friday, and I'd like to thank you very much for the very good sessions that you did for our trainees." - ASK, Kent 2009

"Having just attended a session with Janet Shell of Talking Voice, I would heartily recommend her course to anyone involved in public speaking. As a teacher for over thirty years I know how important it is to use the voice correctly. Using the voice incorrectly not only impacts on the effectiveness of a teacher but also has repercussions on one's health and ability to progress in the teaching profession. Janet's knowledge of the voice is profound and her experience as a teacher means that her delivery is second to none. She is funny, knowledgeable and interesting. She makes the day fly by and has lots of different activities, involving delegates in many diverse activities. Although Janet has designed this course primarily for new and trainee teachers, I feel that every teacher should undertake her course as it would make the job of delivering lessons in a way that will keep teachers' voices healthy." - Teacher, Liverpool 2009

New: Courses

The following links offer a comprehensive list of courses offered...

New courses for education and select "Workshops" tab.
New courses for business and select "Courses offered" tab.

New: Talking Voice podcasts

Do you have to make a speech and it is all very new? How do you go about preparing your speech? Preparing speech

How do you cope with that first nervous moment of your speech? Coping with nerves