Client profiles, feedback & results

man-icon Jason wanted to improve his English pronunciation and accent

Jason’s Profile

Jason completed his schooling and undergraduate degree in Engineering in China before moving to Australia to study at post-graduate level. He spoke Mandarin as his first language and had learnt some English through school and university with the main focus on literacy.

After graduating with a Master’s Degree he decided to make Australia home and found work in the Banking and Finance Industry where he had worked for 7 years prior to contacting Word of Mouth.

Jason was being over-looked for management positions internally and had received feedback from his manager that he was sometimes difficult to understand, that he spoke quickly with a low volume voice and that he had some difficulty explaining his ideas clearly and concisely.

Following a detailed assessment, Jason’s training objectives included focus on his English pronunciation, specifically the correction of specific consonant sounds, neutralising certain vowels and diphthongs and readjusting his stress and rhythm to a more English sound. Additional objectives included slowing his speech rate, adopting techniques to ensure his verbal grammar and expression were accurate, well structured, concise and coherent.

Jason attended 12 coaching sessions and 2 follow-up sessions. Mid-way through his program, Jason had to return to China for personal reasons. He continued his regular coaching sessions with Lana via Skype during this time. Jason was diligent both with the structured practice using the audio recordings and worksheets, and with the integration practice which involved monologue and conversation practice in everyday contexts.

Jason made very significant improvements which were quantified throughout the program and compared to the assessment recordings. As a result of the coaching, he reported he no longer had to repeat himself, he felt more confident in his spoken communication and four months later was successfully promoted into a management position.

Jason’s Feedback and Results

Working with Lana at Word of Mouth helped me to really understand what I needed to do to improve the way I speak English.  Focus on certain sounds that I was not pronouncing correctly, the rhythm and stress patterns and my grammar and spoken English were really valuable.  These are very different in Mandarin. The audio and written materials that Lana provided that I used to practice between sessions were very professional, easy to use and essential to my practice between sessions and revision.  Lana’s coaching style is very professional, focused and supportive and I felt she designed my program to meet my goals.  I believe the program I completed with Lana (and my regular practice) helped me to get my recent promotion.  I cannot be happier.  Now when I speak English at work and socially I feel much more confident. I couldn’t have done it without you Lana – thank you very much.

woman-icon Natalie wanted to improve her speaking and singing voices

Natalie’s Profile

Natalie works full-time as solicitor in Sydney. She also enjoys singing in a band in her spare time which involved rehearsals and performances.

Natalie was referred to Word of Mouth by a speech pathology colleague who had worked with her previously for a couple of sessions following a visit to her Ear Nose & Throat Specialist (ENT) where she was diagnosed with pre-nodular vocal fold thickening, reflux and laryngeal (voicebox) constriction when speaking and singing by her ENT. She was in her 20’s at the time.

She requested a location for her voice coaching sessions in Sydney’s CBD which was closer to her workplace.

Natalie’s more acute voice problems began to arise after she suffered a bout of flu and a gig where she sang without warming up.  Notably she experienced vocal roughness/ huskiness which gradually improved however she felt her voice remained weak.

At assessment, Natalie presented with a mildly breathy and rough speaking voice and had an intermittent feeling of a lump in her throat.  She reported difficulties with both her speaking and singing voice.

Natalie attended five, one-hour voice coaching sessions at Word of Mouth following the assessment session.  Her training objectives included refinement of her speaking and singing voice techniques (resonance and releasing laryngeal constriction), voice projection techniques and voice care/ hygiene education.

She was diligent with the structured and integration practice between coaching sessions and worked at integrating techniques into her singing voice with her singing teacher.  She made very pleasing improvements in both her speaking and singing voice.

Her voice quality returned to normal and she continues to experience no vocal difficulties and occasionally receives compliments on her ‘pleasant’ speaking voice and singing voice.

Lana maintained phone contact with Natalie in the months following her program.  She also contacted Natalie’s singing teacher at the completion of the program to provide an update and receive feedback about her progress with her singing voice.

Natalie’s Feedback and Results

The five sessions I did with Lana changed my perception of how I viewed and controlled my voice. Before I started out with Lana, I knew that my speaking voice wasn’t the best. I often felt it was robotic, unemotional and un-expressive. I would often lose my voice after long rehearsals or gigs for several days at a time. I also knew that there was some thickening on my vocal chords and I was very afraid that I would develop nodules in the future.

Since the sessions, I have become a lot more mindful and aware of how I speak and I have been able to bring in these mindful practices with voice into all facets of my life beyond singing, including speaking in large venues or in large rooms, or just talking through distances at work. I have gone from being afraid of sounding robotic to having an emotive and expressive voice that I can be proud of.

My singing voice has also improved beyond what I thought I was capable of prior to the sessions. Through understanding how the voice works and understanding how to use it properly, I have been able to get much more out of my lessons and develop my singing voice.

Recently, I also completed a Toastmasters course where I was given a number of compliments about my speaking voice including that it was clear, could be heard from long distances when an audience member was in the back of a room, was expressive and very pleasant. I never thought I would be getting these types of compliments with my voice, and honestly, I couldn’t have done it without Lana (or my singing teacher!)

Thank you Lana!!!

Natalie’s Singing Teacher’s Feedback

As a singing teacher, I have noticed for a very long time that the students who often have trouble in their singing voice are those that need help with their speaking voice. I have sent students to Lana McCarthy and have noticed immediately the difference in my students’ voices. They are able to sing with more ease and able to get notes they once struggled with. Very exciting for them and for me! Also, I often have students where English is their second language and as this is Lana’s expertise, she is able to get my students to understand and mouth the right words which helps so much in the singing of a song. As I say to my students, “A great singer sounds international. You cannot hear where that person is from. There is no accent.”

As soon as Natalie had seen Lana I noticed a huge difference. Her voice was immediately clearer & it sounded finally like she was speaking & singing in the ‘right spot’ as I like to call it. Exercises she’d struggled with just flowed. She could easily get from her bottom voice to her top voice with smoothness and accuracy. She could now sing a song from beginning to end in perfect tune and without struggle. Thank you Lana for adding your expertise. It’s made a real long-term difference. (Maz Mazak).

man-icon Zakh wanted to improve his vocal delivery and  professional presence

Zakh’s Profile

Zakh arrived in Sydney from Nepal in 2007. After studying a Masters of Accounting he decided to make Australia home.

He worked in accounting firms in Sydney for several years before changing his professional direction and set up his own business in education consultancy.  Whilst setting up his business he worked in call centres and undertook study in Migration Law.

Zakh contacted Word of Mouth to build his professional presence. He wanted to consistently make a strong impact, to appear credible, to build rapport easily and to ultimately win more new business. He also reported issues with his vocal quality and stamina when working in the call centre.

His training objectives, developed through detailed assessment with Lana included: slowing his speech rate; focusing on specific voice techniques to create a more resonant and engaging spoken voice quality; more varied intonation to energise his vocal delivery; reduction of fillers e.g. ‘um’; use of more dynamic words to better sell his message; techniques to quickly and easily build rapport, together with neutralising aspects of his accent.

Zakh made substantial improvements in all of the communication areas addressed in his program.  He reported that he could speak on the phone for whole days working at the call centre without vocal fatigue.  He believed that as a result of integrating all of the techniques into his business and every day communication, he was able to communicate with more confidence and finesse.  As a result he was better able to build business relationships which helped to grow his business.

Zakh’s Feedback and Results

As soon as I arrived in Australia, I realised that I needed a good command of English if I wanted to move up my career ladder as well as to build good relationships with people around me. Since that time, I tried lots of things to improve my communication like talking to and recording myself, I joined speech clubs and spent several hundred hours watching YouTube videos about voice tone and fluency.

After hours of practice I was still feeling I wasn’t going anywhere.  Luckily one day I heard about Word of Mouth and took classes with Lana and I now can see massive growth in my English language and communication ability.  She debugged all of the myths I had about voice production and ways of speaking English and equipped me with the right techniques.

woman-icon Julie wanted to gain greater control of her stuttering

Julie’s Profile

Julie has a history of stuttering since childhood which has varied in severity throughout her life. As a child she had some treatment for this.

As her anxiety increased around speaking in adulthood she began to work with a Clinical Psychologist (using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy {CBT} techniques). It was at this time that she contacted Word of Mouth. She was in her 30’s at the time.

Working as a health professional with a busy social life, Julie was keen to work at improving her fluency especially for professional reasons. She had an initial medium – term goal of presenting fluently and confidently to a professional audience at an international conference.

At initial assessment, she presented with a mild-moderate stutter. She started the recommended treatment using Speech Restructuring (Prolonged/ Smooth Speech techniques) using the Australian Camperdown Program together with slowing her speech rate. Julie gradually learnt to use these techniques, combined with CBT, within coaching sessions, then integrated them into more ‘real life’ speaking contexts. Focus was initially on integrating the speech techniques into smaller, less formal work-related presentations and finally she achieved her goal of presenting at an international conference with good fluency and confidence.

This has allowed Julie to showcase the research she was already conducting at work and enhance her professional profile. She surprised herself and actually found that she enjoyed the experience of presenting.

As a result of her ongoing work with Word of Mouth, Julie has gained much greater control of her fluency. Combining speech techniques with CBT, allowed her to significantly reduce her social anxiety when speaking in a wide variety of situations. She pushed herself both professionally and socially to achieve the goals she initially set for herself.

Julie has attended ‘follow-up sessions’ over subsequent years when she either had presentations scheduled or felt that control of her fluency had deteriorated.

Julie’s Feedback and Results

My stutter had been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. I had become extremely skilled at avoiding public speaking for most of my professional career until I moved to Australia from the UK to take up a nursing management position. A large part of my duties in this new position involved facilitating workshops and an expectation to present at conferences. I was referred to Word of Mouth via my GP who also suggested I see a clinical psychologist to address the anxiety issues I suffered as a result of my stutter.

This combination proved extremely successful and for the first time in my life the possibility of public speaking with confidence became a reality. Lana at Word of Mouth creates a safe, comfortable and supportive environment where progress is made and confidence is built. I have been seeing Lana since 2009 and am now able to present with confidence, self-belief and even enjoyment, something I would never have imagined possible. Lana has, quite frankly, changed my life and I would highly recommend Word of Mouth to anyone who has issues around fluent speech.

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