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Lucy Cornell on why women leaders need to find their voice

by Guest on September 30, 2013

Do you want to find your voice in business and the community?

Lucy Cornell Director of Voice Coach brings the world’s most sophisticated techniques in voice and speaking to the business world to develop vocal presence and power for stronger, more inspired leadership. Lucy specialises in advising CEOs and senior executives of blue chip companies, politicians, orators, barristers and radio and TV presenters. In this post she shares her insights with Global Charity Dress for Success (Leaders in Heels is a proud supporter of Dress for Success Sydney).

Q. Can you tell us a little about your professional and personal background prior to becoming a voice coach?

From an early age, I had always been interested in performance. At school, I would appear on stage singing, drumming and acting. I had a fascination with what makes humans connect, a real calling to teach and a want to support and help people to find a voice. Whilst I had these passions from a young age, it was only later I found out about voice coaching.

If you can find a voice that is rich, compassionate, subtle and precise then that is your power in business

Being a voice coach is not a traditional form of study, it is a master apprentice training. I was lucky enough to follow a handful of enigmatic, powerful women internationally who have been involved in the field of voice for performance. My first experience of voice coaching was when I was living in London. I observed voice teachers at the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company and I knew I had found my calling.

On returning to Australia I trained with Isobel Kirk, a master voice teacher and, importantly, found my own voice before learning to coach. I then traveledto New York and trained with Kristin Linklater who is one of a handful of master voice teachers in the world. I am lucky enough to be one of only 200 teachers in the world who is certified to use her techniques. From there I returned to Australia and built my business called Voice Coach, which has adapted that work to coach voices in the business world. I also have a 13 month old daughter, who teaches me about voice, communication and connection every day.

Q. What inspired you to become a Voice Coach?

I remember being being fascinated by a cousin’s interest in the study of facial diagnostics at ten years of age. I had never heard of such a thing but was intrigued to think that you might be able to read subtleties about a person from the markings and shapes of their face. From there on, I began to read people and work on a deeper level where communication is about a more holistic experience than just the words. I also wanted to find a balance between my need to express and my need to help others find a voice.

Q. What difference can how a woman uses her voice make to her career?

It makes all the difference! As humans our voice is our means of communicating who we are and what we need at any moment in time. As adults, our voices have been cultivated and crafted over all our years of being civilised from the age of 1. Our voices as adults are certainly less influential and less expressive than when we were babies. Living in a community we often need permission to say things and women often have issues because of culture and our place in society over history – as our voices are allowed or not allowed to be heard in certain scenarios.

We are now in a phase of humanity which is still relatively new where women are starting to find a voice in the world. Women need to re-learn some of those silencing behaviours our culture has taught us; and assert the natural right that your voice expresses your power. If you can find a voice that is rich, compassionate, subtle and precise then that is your power in business.

Q. What are some of the most common mistakes professional women make with their voice?

They feel like they don’t have a right to speak. This is understandable as it’s deep set and subconscious. Another common mistake would be to let someone else take credit for what they have said. Women don’t naturally have the courage – or feel like they have permission – to declare their successes. It’s also interesting to see the effects of our business culture on women which creates a space where emotion has no place in communication. To me this is nonsense; emotion is an essential currency of communication. Women are such extraordinarily subtle beings who have an ability to do many things; subtly and intellectually – to be heroines – but where does this warrior strength go in business? It seems that there is no currency for the warrior women in business. It’s hard for women to bring this power to business because if they do, they are often cut down for being aggressive by our typical business hierarchy.

Emotion is an essential currency of communication

Q. We are grateful that you’re using your voice for our charity’s Dress for Success fundraising event in October – what drew you to support Dress for Success?

Apart from running my own international business (run from Sydney) – my deep desire is to support people who don’t have a voice in the world. This is the essence of what Dress for Success does – not through voice and communication but through giving these women in need of some sense of finding their power.

Q. You’ll be sharing more tips at the event but what’s the biggest tip you would give professional women to better use their voice in business?

One key point I always come back to is a common issue in business – for both men and women – if you can deal with your relationship with your own sense of power, then everything else seems to falls into place from there.

If you’d like to hear Lucy speak, please join us on Thursday October 24 at Robert Walters, Level 53, Governor Phillip Tower, 1 Farrar Place, Sydney from 6-9 pm where you will also enjoy champagne and canapés whilst raising money for Dress for Success Sydney. The event is $30 to attend and you can find out more information here: We’d love to see you there!

Dress for Success Sydney is a registered charity that outfits women in need free of charge, in high quality professional attire and provides practical advice in preparation for job interviews – all to improve the employability of women by increasing confidence and restoring dignity. Y.E.S! Sydney is hosting this event and is a networking, volunteering and fundraising group of professional women in Sydney delivering events all in support of this charity.

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