Finding and Understanding Your Voice with Speech Language Pathologist, Tricia Veldman

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    How well do you know your own voice? As a voice actor, understanding your instrument is key to unlocking boundless opportunities. In this episode of Mission Audition, co-hosts Stephanie and Julianna are joined by Speech Language Pathologist, Tricia Veldman. Together, they go deep into the mechanics of speech, and walk you through how to speak comfortably, how to sound natural and believable, and more.

    Hosts: Stephanie Ciccarelli, Julianna Jones, with special guest, Speech Language Pathologist, Tricia Veldman

    Inspired? Try out our voice over scripts (including those featured in our episodes): https://www.voices.com/blog/category/tools-and-resources/sample-scripts/

    Mission Audition is presented by Voices.com. Produced and Engineered by Cameron Pocock.

    About Tricia Veldman
    Tricia Veldman holds a Master of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders Bilingual Extension in Italian from Teachers’ College, Columbia University and a Bachelor of Health Science from the University of Florida, and is a bilingual speech-language pathologist based in Savannah, Georgia.

    She completed the New York Speech Coaching Speech Teacher Training program under founder and head instructor, John West, where she also experienced the transformative power of mastering public speaking. Her primary goal is to equip others with the confidence to be themselves and feel comfortable in any situation, any conversation, and any presentation. She combines her knowledge of psychology and interpersonal communication to guide students towards the best-version-of-themselves. Her clients include lawyers, consultants, entrepreneurs, health coaches, graphic designers, engineers, teachers, and employees of companies including Condé Nast, Reddit, Equinox, the United Nations, and Disney.

    For more things Tricia, check out the podcast she co-hosts: The Lost Art of Communication: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-lost-art-of-communication/id1410346037)

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Hi, there. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli.

    Julianna Jones:
    And I’m Julianna Jones.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Welcome to Mission Audition. This episode is going to be so much fun. We have a speech-pathologist in the house. I’m so excited as a voice major, you have no idea. But anyway, before we say anything more, we want to make sure you know who this person is because she is awesome, she’s in a studio in Savannah, Georgia right now. And we are talking to Tricia Veldman. Tricia, welcome to the show.

    Tricia Veldman:
    Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    All right, Tricia. So I know that you’re new to a number of our listeners here. Can you tell us more about your career and how you got to where you are and why you love being a speech-language pathologist?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Absolutely. So I was studying in New York City for my degree in speech pathology. Initially, I always thought I wanted to work with kids and I knew very little about the voice work itself until I started interning for a company called New York Speech Coaching. And one of the services that they offer is called speaking voice enhancement, which actually isn’t therapy at all. But it’s for people who don’t necessarily have a pathology, who just don’t love the sound of their speaking voices.

    Tricia Veldman:
    And as an intern, I had to receive those voice lessons for myself, and I learned so much more about my voice than I ever thought I needed to know. And it was just fascinating to me, and I really fell in love with that work. So I completed my degree and we started offering speech therapy in addition to the speech coaching lessons in New York. And then a few months ago, I got tired of living in the city and moved to Savannah, Georgia, and I now have Georgia Speech Coaching. I’m running that company to bring this speech coaching, voice work, and speech therapy to Georgia.

    Julianna Jones:
    Wow, that’s so cool. Do you also do online coaching for anyone who’s listening for some help with their speaking voice?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Absolutely. I’m actually working with most of my clients from New York on Skype or FaceTime or Zoom since I moved and I wanted to keep working with them.

    Julianna Jones:
    Just from a much sunnier, less busy-

    Tricia Veldman:
    Climate. Exactly.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    The name Savannah is awesome. The city, I’m sure is very awesome too. So we’re going to talk a bit about the job now. Since we have someone with a speech-language pathology background on the show, we’re going to be focusing more on the voice, how it’s being used the different phrasing, whether or not we can send some physical tension in there. Just be listening for that sort of thing as we hear the auditions but before we do that, we need to know what we’re auditioning for.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So this job is really… It’s an explainer video. It’s for people who are in the field of insurance so insurance agents. It’s helping them to understand how they can best share with their clients the fact that they will receive funding for an auto accident claim. This one in particular is one that new employees will watch as part of their onboarding program.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    This is a male or female voice auditioning, it’s for category of business. We’re looking for a US general American accent. Julianna, what do these people need to do to stand out here?

    Julianna Jones:
    Sure. So our artistic direction says the reach should be friendly and professional as though insurance agents are hearing from a peer. We’re looking for your real person authentic voice, someone who sounds like they are truly letting their voice shine through a performance. Think relatable, credible, and believable.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yes, those are all very important traits for someone to have in insurance or in any field for that matter. So why don’t we roll audition number one?

    Audition 1:
    Helping a client through their accident claim can be a difficult process. Not only is the client still in shock from their experience, they may also be awaiting their funds or a payout. If a client calls and wants to know when their claim will be processed, and when they will receive their funds, here are the steps you should take.

    Julianna Jones:
    Okay, Tricia. I’m excited to hear your feedback.

    Tricia Veldman:
    So first off, I must say that he has such an incredible depth to his voice. That makes it very pleasant to listen to, it’s very resonant, very full, it sounds like he’s using his voice in a generally healthy way. The thing that would make this stronger, is on several words, he has a lack of what is called continuity, meaning he’s breaking apart the words and using what is called a glottal stop.

    Tricia Veldman:
    So a glottal stop is when our vocal folds actually slam together, as in the word, uh-oh. That uh sound and that can break the flow of a speech. So for example, he said, Here are the steps. And that can create some choppiness that takes away from the conversational tone. So with that adjustment, instead of saying here are making it, here are the steps. It can feel a little more natural and conversational since one of the goals is for this to be authentic and relatable.

    Tricia Veldman:
    We don’t often speak with that choppiness in our day to day conversations. So that’s the adjustment I would make though I do love the sound of his voice.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah, he had a great voice. You’re talking glottal stops. And that’s my language. So anyway, when I hear you talking about that, it reminds me also that in English, we actually use the glottal stop a lot. Like other languages that are more melodic and tend to be, the romantic languages, they don’t have nearly so much of that. But because English is a Germanic language, we tend to have a lot more stopping and starting.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So I’m glad you pointed that out because it really does speak to whether or not we’re believing somebody, if it sounds natural. Yes, the stops can be there but they can also be there a little too much.

    Tricia Veldman:
    And it depends on the placement. So we use a lot of glottal stops, particularly on T sounds. For example, we’d say cat as a glottal T instead of cat. But on the vowel sounds at the beginning of a word like here are, we don’t have to do that instead if we replace that with a tiny Y sound so it sounds more like here are back in instance, make it feel more relaxed and more natural because most of us do that, to a certain extent. Obviously, not all the time but really, it’s the placement of those glottals that we can watch out for to make it feel a little more authentic.

    Julianna Jones:
    I’m just trying to think about how. Because I’m watching you do it but obviously our listeners aren’t watching. So how are you placing emphasis in your throat and mouth about when you aren’t doing a stop?

    Tricia Veldman:
    So that’s a really interesting question because you can’t. I mean, none of us can physically see the vocal folds. And so a glottal stop is essentially the vocal folds slamming together. They’re closing. I know your listeners can’t see me but I’m using my hands right now to show the vocal folds’ closing. So it’s not something that we can see the physical adjustments to well, we have to feel it.

    Tricia Veldman:
    But if you really pay attention, you’ll feel some excess tension in your throat when you start contracting the swallowing muscles as opposed to the muscles used exclusively for speech, then you can get some of that extra tension and that’ll cause the glottal stop as well. They can.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    There are many different regional accents and people will say things differently depending on where you are. So for instance, we’re in southwestern Ontario, we have a very distinct accent. Now, I would say Toronto, for the City of Toronto. It’s spelt with a T-O but for some reason, don’t say it that way, Toronto.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So, in which ways might that glottal stop show up in other places where if a T is gone, or it sounds like you’re falling out of a consonant. It’s not really there. What are those words where a lot of people might need to think, “Gee, I really should have that aspart consonant there.” I guess it’s just being more disciplined with our speech.

    Tricia Veldman:
    It’s a good question. Off the top of my head in North American English, in general, we don’t often aspirate the T’s. Like just now I said often but a lot of people say often, and either one is fine. I wouldn’t say that something people should stress about. When it’s more important is when the T comes at the end of a word and the next word begins with a vowel sound.

    Tricia Veldman:
    So for example, if you’re saying, “I sat on the chair.” You can either say, “I sat on the chair.” Which sounds a little pretentious, and people don’t actually usually aspirate that T. Or you could use the glottal and say, “I sat on the chair.” And that’s using that glottal stop, or the most efficient way because you’re not breaking the airflow, as you do with a glottal stop would be to use what’s called a tapped T. Say, “I sat on the chair.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Almost like a D.

    Tricia Veldman:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s interesting because I just think of the word important. Important can be said really easily. “Oh, that’s really important.”

    Tricia Veldman:
    That’s a good example.

    Julianna Jones:
    How do you balance being conversational and relatable by using the glottal stop and being in a professional space like doing an insurance explainer video?

    Tricia Veldman:
    I would say to use more continuity and less of the glottal stops. Particularly, in this example, the glottals were between words that we naturally would link causing it to sound a little choppy. So it felt to me, “Oh, he’s on right now. He’s in his presentation mode. Here are the steps.” Whereas in life, you would never say, “Here are the apple.” They would say, “Here are the apples.” It’s more connected.

    Tricia Veldman:
    And I think the problem that people face particularly when doing voiceovers is they feel in order to be articulate, they have to break apart every word and that’s absolutely not the case. You can speak with 100% continuity and still articulate every single sound very well. Not that we need to use 100% continuity but it’s in those tiny little transitions between words that can make all the difference to the listener who’s subconsciously going to pick up on whether this feels conversational or a little bit stiff.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah, and we want to be relatable. That’s all part of this is when we’re learning how to read for this particular spot, it is about being approachable, a teacher, helping people to understand. So that means you’re articulate but you’re not so disconnected that people don’t know why you care about them or why you’re sharing the information. So that’s really great. We’re going to move on to audition number two.

    Audition 2:
    Helping a client through their accident claim can be a difficult process. Not only is the client still in shock from their experience, they may also be awaiting their funds or a payout. If a client calls and wants to know when their claim will be processed, and when they will receive their funds, here are the steps you should take.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    All right. What do you think, Tricia?

    Tricia Veldman:
    She has a very kind voice and there’s a lot of potential there. It’s difficult for me as a speech pathologist to listen to this because I can physically hear the tension in her voice. She’s really pushing a lot of her sounds out. You could hear at the end of payout, for example. I just felt that strain. And so in her case, she’s only using a fraction of the voice she has available to her. There’s so much more depth she could get just by relaxing the musculature.

    Tricia Veldman:
    Right now, she’s pushing and squeezing everything to this one portion of the space she has available to her and the result is a tense and strained sound and people don’t like listening to those sorts of sounds because as empathetic beings that we are, we subconsciously pick up on other people’s tension. We feel comfortable when we hear voices that are healthy because we know that person is comfortable and doing something in a healthy way.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I don’t want to make any assumptions because obviously, that tension could come from anywhere, right? It could be because they’re not sitting right or it could be because the breath is not properly supported. This is probably not the case here but I do want to say that whatever you bring into the studio, in your mind, and if you’ve got some unresolved issues you’ve locked in, you’re not clear on what you need to do, some of that could seep into the read, where some of that tension could come in. Is that fair to say?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Absolutely. Your voice is a full body, mind, spirit experience. And so if you’re carrying that tension anywhere and you don’t realize that can affect the sound of your voice as well.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Do you have any ideas for how people can get to a place where they have less tension? I know that sometimes zero tension is hard to get to. If someone is sensing, “Oh, my gosh. I feel really tight. My voice is getting hoarse. Or I’ve got terrible vocal fry going on or something.” How can they help to smooth that out when they’re in the midst of a session or is it too late at that point?

    Tricia Veldman:
    So there are so many things that you can do to address tension. If it’s becomes a serious issue and you see a speech pathologist, one of the first things we would do would be a laryngeal massage. So we would physically massage the muscles around your larynx because those get tense just like any other muscles. Obviously, prevention is preferred to having to address it in the moment but as you said, we can never really achieve zero tension nor do we need to.

    Tricia Veldman:
    Most people carry a lot of stress in their chest and shoulders, all those muscles connect to your larynx or your voice box. And so that is going to be felt and heard in your voice. Basic tips, particularly, if you’re already in a session and you start to feel all this tension, one would be proper alignment. So making sure your posture is appropriate. A lot of times people think, “Oh, sit up straight.” And they immediately jet their chin upwards. You want to avoid doing that because when you do that you stretch out the muscles surrounding your larynx and then it actually creates more tension and tightness.

    Tricia Veldman:
    So you want to have your chin slightly tucked. If you stand up against a wall, you want the back of your head and your shoulders to be in alignment with the wall. The other thing would be make sure you are breathing appropriately. Deep diaphragmatic belly breathing and simple tool that you can do on the spot, my favorite for attention is to yawn. I don’t know how frequently you all do this but when we yawn, our larynx physically lowers and when our larynx lowers that opens up those muscles.

    Tricia Veldman:
    Obviously, we probably don’t want to use that voice unless it’s a particular character voice. But just speaking with that really yawny voice can open up everything, relax your muscles, and get rid of some of that tension.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Wow. I know that if you watch someone else and they are yawning, then you might yawn too. But if you don’t have that person yawning in front of you, and you’re legitimately not tired. How could someone yawn without really yawning and can you make yourself really yawn?

    Tricia Veldman:
    It takes practice. Some people naturally get there a little faster with the practicing of yawning but this is something I do with my clients all the time. For people who it’s not coming easily to, try to practice first in times when you are sleepy and you’re naturally yawning and then use that yawn to capitalize on that and feel how it feels and add the voice to it. But what you can start with, even if you’re not tired at all, is putting your hand on your larynx or your Adam’s apple.

    Tricia Veldman:
    So if everyone listening can just put your hand on your neck and swallow. You’re going to feel some little thing bob up and down. That is your larynx. And if you yawn or just try to fake a yawn, you should feel that little notch, move down. If you’re a man that will be your Adam’s apple, you should feel it move down.

    Tricia Veldman:
    So when you do that, then try to keep your larynx as low as you possibly can try to yawn lower and lower eventually, you won’t actually have to yawn, you’ll learn how to physically manipulate the muscles around the larynx, which is probably not something you’ve ever done before because who does that unless you go to a voice lesson?

    Julianna Jones:
    Tricia, what I hearing you say that we should go get more massages as voiceover actors.

    Tricia Veldman:
    Absolutely. Yeah. If your insurance covers it. Insurance being the subject of today’s podcast. Yeah, absolutely. I think that it’s important actually because as we know your entire body is your instrument when you’re an actor, or a voice person or a singer or whatever you’re doing. It’s critical because that tension that you’re talking about some of it just builds up over time and you actually have to get it worked out.

    Tricia Veldman:
    One of my voice coaches when I was in university, she would say, “You know what? You need to get some deep tissue massage. You need to make sure that they’re really getting to what it is because your whole body influences how that sound is going to come out or not come out and you don’t want to be carrying tension all the time.” So you could get some definite release from having some massage regiment.

    Julianna Jones:
    And you can laryngeal massage yourself, it’s not that difficult. You’re massaging your neck, I would encourage you to not try this without at least doing some research beforehand because you don’t want to hurt yourself and your neck can be a sensitive area. So make sure you do some research or talk to a speech pathologist and they will show you how to do that.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    I will definitely look up my local SLP and entrust them with that because this is… Honestly, this your instrument. You don’t want to hurt it or ruin it or whatever. Go to someone who knows what they’re doing. All right. Well, let’s hear audition number three.

    Audition 3:
    Helping a client through their accident claim can be a difficult process. Not only is the client still in shock from their experience, they may also be awaiting their funds or a payout. If a client calls and wants to know when their claim will be processed, and when they will receive their funds, here are the steps you should take.

    Julianna Jones:
    There are moments and I really liked this voice. And there were moments I was like, “What’s going on?”

    Tricia Veldman:
    I agree. She also has a very pleasant sounding voice. She seems like a very kind person that you’d want to spend time with. I get the sense that she’s not a native speaker of English, or there’s some accent there. And mostly I could tell that from the amount of time she aspirated her T’s and lacked continuity. So just like what we talked about with the first one but this one had less continuity than the first one. It felt a little staccato to me and that was preventing it from feeling relatable.

    Julianna Jones:
    There were a couple like really genuine moments that were it strung together perfectly.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    I like the warmth in her voice. I did. But as a listener, it was hard to follow along and I think a lot of that does have to do with the phrasing and just making sure that it feels like it is one natural phrase. When we’re looking at, say a piece of copy, or you’re singing a song or what have you, you always have to make sure you know where you’re going before you get there and then you plan with, “I’m going to breathe here, I’m going to inflect there.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    When we’re thinking about how to figure out what we need to do, what are some ways that we could look at a piece of copy, Tricia and say, “This is how I’m going to really put my best voice forward and this is how I’m going to make sure that I have enough breath or enough of that solid tambor that I need.” That sturdy resonant voice that I can get through this voiceover and it to feel like it’s well supported. And I still sound like I’m really engaged and able to speak to someone?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Try to resist the temptation to go word by word. It feels sometimes when people are reading off of paper, that the emphasis okay this word, word, word, word. And so instead, I personally like to memorize a sentence and not read off the paper. Because we get distracted when we’re reading and then we forget when to breathe, and then the breath can feel calculated. And then it’s like, breath number one, here’s sentence number one. As opposed to if you know where you’re going and you feel that flow and connect to the content is a huge portion of this.

    Tricia Veldman:
    Technique aside, if you are not really feeling what you’re saying, and not believing what you’re saying, then it’s going to feel force and it’s going to feel scripted. So really connect with what you’re saying, why you’re saying it, and believe what you’re saying. Whether that’s by memorizing it and thinking about it as opposed to reading it word for word. But I’d say just be careful to stress each word. Think of where the words fall in the sentence as a whole.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Would you be able to tell that they’re not as connected or in sync with what they’re saying just by their voice betraying them?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Really depends on how good of an actor the person is because if they’re phenomenal actor, usually you can’t tell but our voices give away so much of our subconscious, that typically, yeah, you can hear that and even not and it being a voice expert to some degree, we all know that because we’re all empathetic beings and you can pick up on those subconscious feelings. And that’s why sometimes we walk away and say, “Oh, that person just seemed a little shady.”

    Tricia Veldman:
    And it’s not because of anything that they necessarily said but it could have been that they didn’t actually believe what they were saying. And so you could tell, you just got the vibe from their voices, and usually body language as well. But in this case, we’re just focusing on the voice. Good actors usually can fake it, and that’s why they’re called actors. But I think it takes a lot of training to connect with that very empathetic side of yourself so that even when you don’t believe it, you can actually put yourself in this state of temporarily believing it or feeling what it would feel like to believe the statement.

    Julianna Jones:
    Do you think that research into the script as a company helps with that?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Absolutely. If you’re talking about something that you don’t know anything about you could maybe pass and say, “Okay, that’s fine.” But if you actually research and you stand behind what you’re saying, then that’s going to transfer to your voice.

    Julianna Jones:
    Kind of like how we’ve been talking about creating a character. You’re talking to someone so this will be the same thing. You’re creating an agent but you’re talking to a friend.

    Tricia Veldman:
    I love that I always encourage people to practice as if they were talking to a friend at a coffee shop when they’re practicing presentations because that just gets you in a different zone.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    I think that’s really great. And if I’m not mistaken, our resident talent success specialist Cameron does encourage people to memorize too. I think this is particularly relevant for those short form reads. All right. Let’s listen to audition number four.

    Audition 4:
    Helping a client through their accident claim can be a difficult process. Not only is the client still in shock from their experience, they may also be awaiting their funds or a payout. If a client calls and wants to know when their claim will be processed, and when they will receive their funds, here are the steps you should take.

    Julianna Jones:
    Speaking of talking to a friend in a coffee shop, that’s definitely the vibe I got from this guy.

    Tricia Veldman:
    I felt he was the most conversational of the ones we’ve heard so far. He also had a really great depth to his voice. It’s very soothing and that’s a relaxed voice.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    There really isn’t much too to point out is what could he have done better? Because the whole point is you’re supposed to be relatable, you need to get your point across, you have to just know the material. And even if he wasn’t someone who was an insurance rep or someone in that office who’s doing some e-learning thing, or explainer video, what have you. He sounded like he was one. I could have believed that he lived in that world, even if he wasn’t technically, one of those licensed agents out there.

    Tricia Veldman:
    Yeah. And what I think we can point out for people listening that say, “How do I sound like that?” One thing he did really well was he incorporated rate variation. So he’s sped up at times. In conversation, we do talk quickly, and the fear that I’ve seen in a lot of voice actors is going too quickly and say, “Okay, this is an ad. So I’m going to talk like this.” But by speeding up occasionally and having some variety in the rate that you use, it really can make it feel a little more natural.

    Julianna Jones:
    I really liked the mhms and the ahhs and the breaths that were very subtly slipped in there. I thought those are probably calculated. They really gave it the feel like it was just him riffing, just talking.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I think that that could have been a natural thing. He might have just done that based on his interpretation. But I think whenever you’re talking peer to peer that tends to be what comes through most often is people feel more free to just use more utterances if you will. Like I think when we were talking in a previous episode for Alexa skills and so on. The guest on that podcast was talking about how there are these scripted utterances. So sometimes you will see, “Hmm. Okay. Yeah.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Or some other way to make it more personalized or especially in a world where there are all kinds of different technologies and synthetic voice plays a role now, how can we still sound human? And how can we make those interactions relevant to the audience? So what’s your thought on those utterances? Should people be popping them in every now and then? Or is there a point where you can slip an utterance in but it really is ill-timed, it’s unnatural, and it just shouldn’t be there?

    Tricia Veldman:
    That’s a really interesting question because part of my job is teaching public speaking. And one of the primary goals of public speaking is to eliminate filler words. So umms and things like that, I tend not to say. Of course, that’s different from mm-hmm (affirmative) or uh when in something like a voiceover ad. I think there’s definitely a lot of room for people to play around with those. But it’s really tricky to not let it feel calculated. If you write and like, “Okay. Here I’m going to do this thing.”

    Tricia Veldman:
    It’s probably going to sound awkward versus what I would say is try to talk to someone else and again put yourself in the situation, “Okay. I’m at a coffee shop talking to my friend.” Or actually talked to someone else and see if those things come out naturally and record yourself and listen back and notice where they happen and try to do that again. But if you’re thinking, “Okay. I’m going to say mm-hmm (affirmative)” You risk sounding… It’s forced.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. Like contrived, right? You can’t really laugh on command unless I don’t know. There’s so many different ways to sound authentic and if it doesn’t sound natural, then take it out, would you say?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Yeah. And if it doesn’t feel natural… I’m a big feelings person, a lot of ways to work I feel like you just have to feel it. There are no black and white rules. And so if you’re saying like, “Oh, that feels weird or that feels off.” You have to record yourself and listen back to that obviously and if you listening to it, “That feels a little off.” Trust your instinct and try it again without it.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Well, all great tips. Let’s listen to audition number five.

    Audition 5:
    Helping a client through their accident claim can be a difficult process. Not only is the client still in shock from their experience, they may also be awaiting their funds or a payout. If a client calls and wants to know when their claim will be processed, and when they will receive their funds, here are the steps you should take.

    Julianna Jones:
    I almost feel like he put in purposeful pauses and umms. He’s like the opposite of the guy we just listened to or is that just me?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Felt like there was a lot of elision. There was a lot of discontinuity as we were saying kind of earlier before. I could feel the same personable qualities that the previous gentleman had when he was speaking but there was definitely something different about this read. Tricia, hoping you can help us out with that.

    Tricia Veldman:
    I appreciated his inflection. I thought the tone that he used was similar to the previous sample. The thing he did differently was he pushed out the words at the end so he lacked the rest support and instead of it being compared to the one previously where it was very open and ended his sentences with a really relaxed vocal mechanism. This gentleman did not have as much breast support, it sounded to me. And so by the end of the phrases, pushing out. And so at the ends of phrases, there was that extra tension there.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    This is on a left field. But do you find that there are certain lines of work where someone may be more of a pusher with their voice? I don’t know. I don’t want to point the finger at broadcast radio but part of me does. Is there a habitual use of this pushing to either get a certain sound quality that someone might want to have? What are the tendencies that you’ve seen in performers across the spectrum? And what is it that they could improve upon?

    Tricia Veldman:
    To be completely honest, I don’t spend a lot of time listening and analyzing to voiceover work. Usually, I’m working with people who are talkers in their lives, and I do work with voice artists as well but I’m so focused send their voice, I don’t really listen to, “Here’s what broadcast sounds like. Here’s what stage sound.” So I don’t feel equipped to answer that question. But I would imagine that with each genre, there are going to be techniques people pick up on and the danger is when you hear someone else doing something and you try to imitate it, if you do so, in an unhealthy way, that’s when the issue can arise.

    Tricia Veldman:
    So it could be that one person was speaking. Let’s take vocal fry, for example. Speaking with a nice vocal fry, and in that person, it sounded really deep and relaxed and soothing. And then someone else tries it and it just sounds obnoxious. And so you have to be careful with the way that you’re using those techniques.

    Julianna Jones:
    We’ve mentioned a couple times breath support, and I feel like I have a good grasp but could you walk us through exactly what that looks like?

    Tricia Veldman:
    I will do my best without the visual. Usually, it helps to be able to see. But all right, exercise number two. So, everyone put your hands on your lower abdomen, your lower belly, and then one hand on your chest. And when you inhale, the hand on your belly should be the one moving out, the one on your chest should stay still. You may already know this, this may be completely basic but basically you want to fill up your belly like a balloon.

    Tricia Veldman:
    It feels almost counterintuitive but when you breathe in, your belly should come out. Not only your stomach but it’ll feel like you have an inner tube around you, your whole back and lower torso should expand as you inhale. And then you can practice a more engaged exhale. So if we breathe in, we should feel relaxed. We’re not pushing the stomach out. We’re letting the belly fall open. And then we exhale, belly button comes towards the spine.

    Tricia Veldman:
    And that’s important to practice because we speak on an exhale. So if you take this nice, delicious belly breath, and then don’t do anything with the exhale, it’s not really going to help your voice that much. So one thing you can practice doing is deliberately breathing with allowing your belly to fall open and then forcefully engaging the abdominal muscles for the exhale. If that makes sense without being able to see me.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    If I can give just another visual. If anybody has a little baby at home. So, like an infant, a small one, one that still knows how to breathe properly, go and look at those kids and watch how they breathe as they’re sleeping, right? You’ll see that inhale, exhale. And they just naturally know how to do it. I don’t know where it is along the line but we somehow forget how to breathe properly.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    And so someone might say, “Oh, take a big deep breath, breathe in big.” And then all of a sudden someone’s sucking in their tummy as they’re trying to do this because they think that taking a big breath must mean that I must… I don’t know. Suck in my tummy. But that’s not what you’re supposed to do. It’s supposed to actually fill that space.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So I know that I’ve been someone who’s done that and fallen into bad habits myself but the whole idea of that inner tube or that tire around your waist and just to feel it filling up. And that’s really awesome. So someone could practice that and then hold the breath and then let it out over a hiss for however long. Would you recommend doing exercises like that so you can get more of that stamina?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Absolutely. A hiss or a Z sound is a good one. I love the baby analogy too because babies can scream and cry for hours and hours and hours and get very loud and they never lose their voices. So that is literally how we are designed to speak. And when we’re not doing that properly, it’s really difficult to get a good sound.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s awesome. Oh, my gosh. We all just need to be like babies because when you think about it, like honestly, you’re right. They can go and go and go but they’re not hoarse. It’s because they’ve got good technique. See? Well, that said, I think we have another audition to listen to. This is audition number six.

    Audition 6:
    Helping a client through their accident claim can be a difficult process. Not only is the client still in shock from their experience, they may also be awaiting their funds or a payout. If a client calls and wants to know when their claim will be processed, and when they will receive their funds, here are the steps you should take.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    I think there was a volume issue like she wasn’t as loud as everyone else. That’s one thing. I do like her voice. I do want to say that before I say anything else because this is a show about loving people, and helping them out, right? But there’s one other thing. I just felt like it was too fast. I think it was too fast and it didn’t have the same confidence that I’ve heard in some of the other auditions.

    Tricia Veldman:
    I would agree with that. She has a very soothing voice that could be appropriate for other types of work, I would imagine, in the voiceover industry but there is a lack of energy that undermine the credibility. And so I also felt the confidence was missing and that a lot of that comes down to volume and so it felt like she was timid, too afraid to say the words.

    Julianna Jones:
    Volume plays a huge part in how someone perceives your capability, your professionalism, and so quiet is unfortunately equated with not being as talented as someone who’s louder. So making sure that your audio is at an ideal volume is so important for winning those auditions. And again, if anyone is wondering, “Is my audio competitive? Am I loud enough?” Just hit up Cameron and our support team and we can make sure that you’re at the right level.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. Usually, it’s someone’s not close enough to the mic, which could have been the case here. But if you are close enough to the mic, and you still sound like you are holding back or not bring in at all to the mic, that’s something you can get coaching for and just have someone listen back and be like, “Oh, yeah. Well, when you’re this far away, I can hear your voice doing that.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    But voiceover although you’re talking to hundreds of thousands of people, potentially, depending on what it is that you’re doing. You honestly have to think of it as an audience of one so far as how loudly you speak into that microphone.

    Julianna Jones:
    Are there things that someone who may be naturally timid that they can do in front of the microphone to give that confident read?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Yes. A lot of things. I would say, practice away from the microphone at first. One thing I often will do with my clients once we talk about how to project in a healthy way, you always want to make sure you’re not shouting and that a large part of that comes down to the breathing. If you’re taking a nice belly breath, you can get a lot louder than if you have that shallow chest breathing.

    Tricia Veldman:
    But once we establish how to make a loud sound in a healthy way, then we really just practice being as loud as you possibly can and making… I don’t want to burst your eardrums here but ah sounds as open and relaxed and loud as possible. If you don’t have a coach to work with or someone else that can monitor, make sure you’re recording yourself and maybe putting your phone or computer across the room and comparing the volumes because volume is one of the things I find people are really poor at judging in ourselves until we hear it back.

    Tricia Veldman:
    And so compare that really loud sound to your conversational voice and then see, “Oh, okay. Where on the spectrum do I fall?” So then when you’re in front of the microphone, you can choose, “Okay. Where, on a scale of one to 10, where do I want my volume to be for this particular ad or project?”

    Julianna Jones:
    Whenever we’re doing a consultation, there’s A, B, and C that we always have to cover. When you’re working with someone for the first time is there an A, B, and C for speech-language pathology that you always have to cover?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Really depends with the person’s goals are just because I don’t only do voice therapy. So I do public speaking and accent modification and voice work as well. But focusing on the voice work, step one would always be breathing because that’s the fundamental issue and that typically is people’s first lesson, breathing. And then we work on how to coordinate that breathing with phonation or voicing. So working on that coordination and then doing so in a healthy way.

    Tricia Veldman:
    It really depends on what the person’s coming in with because sometimes people come in because they want to be louder. Sometimes people find that they get feedback that they’re too loud or too tense and want to soften. It’s actually a variable but typically, you can always expect to start with breathing.

    Julianna Jones:
    Actually, funny story, where for the longest time one of my husband’s friends, his dad was the loudest talker. It was so hard to have a conversation with him because your ears were ringing. Well, his wife eventually got him to go to the hearing doctor, and guess what? He was extremely hard of hearing. He had no idea he was talking so loudly.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    On that note, that’s also a good tip too, is I’m sure you run into people who need help with their speech but it’s because they honestly can’t hear as well. So how important is it that someone in this field, someone who relies on their ears, obviously, to edit audio and so on but also to be able to speak well and clearly. How important is it that they do have an audiologist or they are setting up an appointment every now and then to have their hearing checked.

    Tricia Veldman:
    That’s incredibly important. I actually just referred someone today to an audiologist who misinterpreting different words and thus articulating things incorrectly because no idea she had a hearing loss. So that is something that typically healthy adults by now you’ll notice, but there’s always the situation like your husband’s friend, where you don’t know and you really have to rely on the feedback from others.

    Tricia Veldman:
    So particularly, with your voice and speech, listen to what other people have to say and the feedback you’re getting. And if you aren’t getting feedback that you’re louder, that your sounds are different, then it’s really something to investigate. But if this is your profession, absolutely, make sure to see an audiologist at a relatively frequent intervals.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Great advice. I know we’ve got two more auditions so we’re going to listen now to audition number seven.

    Audition 7:
    Helping a client through their accident claim can be a difficult process. Not only is the client still in shock from their experience, they may also be able Waiting their funds or a payout. If a client calls and wants to know when their claim will be processed, and when they will receive their funds, here are the steps you should take.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I don’t know why but I noticed the plosives. And they weren’t really big or anything but they sounded just right. And plosives, for those who are not aware of what that might be, or at least the terminology around it, it’s your P’s and your B’s. So from a speech-language pathologist point of view, how did this gentleman do with his plosives, and should we be emulating them?

    Tricia Veldman:
    They didn’t stand out to me. I did feel that he has a particularly healthy sounding voice. There is nothing in his voice that I thought, “Oh, he needs to adjust this or he needs to do that.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Whenever we hear a voiceover and if we can’t find anything wrong with it, as in we don’t notice anything, then that generally means they’ve done a really good job because there’s nothing to criticize, frankly.

    Tricia Veldman:
    One thing I do want to say about his voice perspective, I thought it was beautiful. I would have loved a little more pizzazz. So he said, “Still in shock.” And it was just so calming and so relaxed. It was like it didn’t really convey shock to me. So, that’s the only thing I would say from an acting perspective is maybe just a little more energy would have been nice.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    We are now on to our last audition. This is audition number eight.

    Audition 8:
    Helping a client through their accident claim can be a difficult process. Not only is the client still in shock from their experience, they may also be awaiting their funds or a payout. If a client calls and wants to know when their claim will be processed, and when they will receive their funds, here are the steps you should take.

    Julianna Jones:
    What’s your opinion, Tricia?

    Tricia Veldman:
    I feel like she would be very good at telephone. She has a nice tone and the inflection. She has a good job emphasizing words like still. It felt a little robotic to me, which is a skill that I think people need in this industry for certain types of work. I don’t know if it was appropriate for this particular ad.

    Julianna Jones:
    Maybe not really relatable.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. We typically want to stay away from robotic. That’s generally a sign that something’s not quite as it should be. Sometimes there’s work out there that does ask for a robot voice, frankly or pretend to be a robot. And in which case, you would learn to do those things but I just don’t know if I would pick her for this particular job because I want to know that she’s like that peer to peer. I didn’t quite get that.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. I would agree. There was some feeling missing. And I remember from previous episodes that talking at the same bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop leads to the robotic sounding voice and even you’ve said you think and then you read and then you think and then you read. And that’s what gives it that conversational tone. So it sounds like this is another example where if you try and memorize it, record yourself saying it and then listen back and try and record that as your audition that that’s where this great voice could become a great audition.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    One of the hardest thing to do in this business is to sound conversational, to sound natural. So everyone who’s put forward a read today, I think you all definitely put an effort into sound that way. It is one of the hardest things that you can do as a voiceover artist is to sound normal, frankly. You do have to be thinking about, “Well, how do those people talk to each other?”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    These are insurance agents. This is a training for those people. They’re not talking to the insured, right? They’re talking amongst themselves in that context. If I were so and so and I was talking to this person, I’m going to pretend I’m Sally, that’s Joe. We’re both in this business together. I’m going to find a way to talk to Joe in a way that conveys what I need to say. But all the while keeping in mind that we are on the same team.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    We’ve now had our eight auditions. And as is our custom, Tricia, we’re going to ask you to pick the winner. So if you don’t mind, could you please let us know who the winner of Mission Audition is for this episode?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Absolutely. First, I want to say that they were all phenomenal, amazing potential. I know we were being very nitpicky, but that’s what we’re here for, right? So my favorite was number four.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Awesome. Way to go number four. You know who you are, no doubt you’re listening, go celebrate somehow. I don’t know do a little dance or makeup song. Anyway, that’s pretty much all that we’ve got for the show. But before we go, I want to make sure, Tricia, that people know how to get ahold of you. Especially, if they would like some help with their voice in terms of how they can use it better.

    Tricia Veldman:
    Absolutely. So you can contact me at Tricia, which is T-R-I-C-I-A, @georgiaspeechcoaching.com. Feel free to check out the website, Georgia Speech Coaching as well as New York Speech Coaching and newyorkspeechpathology.com. I also host a podcast of my own called The Lost Art of Communication. Totally different topic from what we’re doing today but if you have any interest in communication, social communication skills, you can find me there as well.

    Julianna Jones:
    While we have you on the show, and before we let you go, are there any tips that you would give to voiceover actors when it comes to just being mindful of being their authentic realest voice?

    Tricia Veldman:
    Don’t be afraid to practice that thing, which is being authentic. And so it can feel like, “Oh, well, I have the words I have the script. Let me just do it.” People forget how the what you were saying before Stephanie falling into that presentation mode, we forget how to sound natural. It is okay to actually practice that. And it’s necessary to set aside time where you’re practicing doing something in a conversational way. Recording yourself, videotape yourself because when you video yourself, you can see your alignment, you can see your facial expressions, all of that affects your voice.

    Tricia Veldman:
    So I would say just don’t be afraid to practice and actually take time to practice the things that you feel should be “natural” because chances are people who are good at them do put in time to be good at them.

    Julianna Jones:
    Practice makes perfect. Well, not just practice makes perfect, perfect practice makes perfect,

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Fine distinction there. Anyway, thank you everyone for joining us. As always, you can find these scripts on the blog, voices.com/blog. Make sure you go there if you like this script, you want to have it on your profile, you’re more than welcome to record it, upload it as a demo, let us know you’ve done it. That’d be super cool. But until we meet again next week, I just want to say thank you for tuning into Mission Audition. You can subscribe if you’re not already subscribed via anywhere that you get your podcasts. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli.

    Julianna Jones:
    And I’m Julianna Jones. We love being on this journey with you as we help you practice perfect. We hope you have fun taking these tips into your studio. Take care, guys.

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