How to Find Your Voice With Hollywood Vocal Trainer Denise Woods

This week we tune our instruments with the help of Hollywood vocal coach Denise Woods. Denise has been a professional vocal and dialect coach for over 20 years and has worked with stars such as Will Smith, Halle Berry, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Chastain and Mahershala Ali, to name just a few. Listen to hear Denise give advice on how to break the hmm, ah, and like habits, find out your unique voiceprint, and learn how to use the power of your breathing while speaking.

Denise’s new book is called Power of the Voice: A Guide to Making Yourself Heard .

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Highlights from this week’s series

From an interview with Denise Woods:

On the importance of breathing pause:

[If] you have the feeling that just as you need to breathe now, your listener too … And this is how this wonderful symbiotic relationship of providing information, receiving information, providing information, this mutual kind of energy, arises. So, when you breathe, you give the listener the opportunity to breathe. So the first thing is to give them permission to say that it’s okay for this wonderful silence. Because in silence, in a pause, there is rest, which means rest for music. And just as a composer needs rest to make notes important, we need silence to make words important.

How to prepare for an important speech:

[No] no matter how great your voice is, if you’re tense or in a tense situation, it’s like turning a valve on a string instrument: the more tension you apply, the more you turn the valve on the string, the pitch rises. And so it becomes like a string, a violin with a very, very high key. And that creates tension. It also creates tension for the listener … So tension is the first thing I would like to address to really just release the tension, shake it out, exhale through the lips, making sure that this breathing apparatus is not taut. as well as articulators.

On the value of knowing your unique “voice imprint”:

It is a combination of everything we are, what we bring to the table culturally, geographically, racially, even in how we identify ourselves. So we can be a collection of things, but we can simply identify ourselves with one or two aspects of ourselves. Our voices should reflect this. And because we are so unique and diverse and need to be flagged as such, we have a responsibility to put it all in our voices so that people not only see us, but hear us in general.

For all of Denise’s great advice on how to improve your voice, we recommend listening to the entire episode.

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Episode transcript


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