Experienced Voice and Leadership Coach Julia Montague-King founded her company Vocability in 2003. This week Julia ran a mentoring session for our MBA participants, focusing on voice projection, breathing and building the confidence to deliver an effective presentation. The improvement, from the entrepreneurs’ first pitch, to their final pitch, was remarkable.

Interview 

Q. You began your career as an actor in film, TV and theatre. What crucial expertise did you acquire as an actor that informs your current role as a Voice Coach?

 A. At Drama School there was a huge emphasis on the importance of the voice. I had an incredible voice coach who sparked my interest in the subject, and I chose to go on to further study. There are so many skills in acting that are relevant and transferrable: even if you are in character, you learn how to stand up in front of others and present yourself with confidence.

 Q. So confidence is something you can acquire?

 A. Definitely. You know that 75% of people hate public speaking? It’s the second biggest fear after death! But there is so much you can do to address this. It’s wonderful to watch the impact of my coaching as people’s confidence grows, as they find their voice, and themselves.

Q. You taught as a Drama Teacher in a school and worked extensively with teenagers and autistic children before focusing on voice coaching. Why did you decide to dedicate yourself to the latter?

 A. I loved working as a drama teacher with teenagers, and I learnt so much from the experience. Moving into voice coaching and setting up my company Vocability was a natural step across. I wanted to go to the next level: there are so many professionals who have reached top positions, but don’t have the basics. I realised that this was where the greatest need for coaching was. I work with several senior management teams – everyone always has more to learn and can improve their skills.

Julia has a background in acting.

Julia has a background in acting.

 Q. What are the challenges of launching and maintaining your own venture?

 A. There are lots! But it was most challenging at first – I was so focused on getting the website up and running to offer my services, that I had no clients! To find people to work with, I started small, at women’s networks. I also freelance for different coaching companies, so I had a good circle of contacts from that.

It takes time to get your foot in the door and establish yourself. You have to fully commit to what you are doing: always ensure you are delivering the highest level possible, and always be exactly where and when you said you would be.

Now, I do less and less promotional networking, because when you get a good reputation, referrals come increasingly by word of mouth.

 Q. You offer various services ranging from 1 to 1 coaching to in-house training for companies. How do you manage your schedule? Is every day different?

 A. Every day is completely different! That’s what I love about it. When I was acting, I struggled with the monotony of having to work 9 to 5 in administrative and café jobs. Now, one day, I can be in Sweden; the next, I can be working remotely with a client via Skype; on another day, I can be doing voice-over work in a studio – I still have my creative outlet in this respect.

Q. What are the business benefits of improving one’s public speaking abilities?

 A. I work with so many different levels, so it’s hard to give one answer. Obviously there is the confidence factor. But more specifically, it can really help with chances of promotion if you are able speak in front of a board and deliver your message with clarity. Even the most senior professionals can always learn and improve more.

 Q. What gives you the greatest satisfaction in your job?

 A. Watching people come alive! At the MBA session, when I first stood up and told the room we were going to focus on our breathing, I could see Rafael looking at me like I was crazy! But after the session, the difference between the first and final pitch really was incredible.

Final Word

The evening was certainly a resounding success, and the participants benefited hugely in terms of their pitches. Thank you, Julia!

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