If you want to succeed with voice training, it’s crucial you learn to manage your expectations for progress. If you start by assuming you’ll just do a few exercises for a week or two and your everyday speech will improve, you set yourself up for failure. Now, to say that out loud makes it seem pretty obvious, but I encounter voice students harboring this unspoken expectation all the time.
It’s human nature to want fast results. It’s tempting to assume that, if you just find the right exercise or try hard enough, you should make noticeable improvements right away. But your voice is physical, it comes from your body, and like anything else in nature, it takes time to develop and grow.
Consider the process of growing a healthy plant. You can’t work at it or make it happen in a week. You can only give it light, water, nutrients, and then you just have to wait. No matter what you do, it’s going to grow at the pace Nature dictates.
Voice training is the same way. All you can do is cultivate the right conditions, through relaxation, breathing and sound vibration, and allow the skills to take root, grow and blossom. It doesn’t happen fast, but it does happen.
When you expect your voice to improve too soon you get discouraged and stop practicing. I’ve noticed this tends to happen at the one-month mark. Students start giving up because they’re not hearing results in their conversational speech. It’s a shame to let that stop your training because that’s where you’re supposed to be after only one month of practice.
I’ve been training speaking voices for over 15 years. I’ve worked with literally thousands of students and, allowing for individual differences, here’s Nature’s average timeline for progress.
After one month of voice training, you should notice a difference during your lessons and in your personal practice. You probably won’t be applying the new skills in real life conversations, let alone presentations, because it would require too much concentration and be too distracting. But in your practice, when that’s your sole focus, you should be noticing a difference.
After three to six months of regular practice, you should be able to apply your new vocal skills in a real life situation, an interview, presentation or an important call, at least for a limited period of time, and it shouldn’t be too distracting. You’ll still probably go back to your old habits when you’re not thinking about it, but when it matters, for a period of time, you should be able to make the skills work for you.
After nine to twelve months of regular voice practice, you can expect to hear a difference in your everyday speech, even when you’re not thinking about it.
As you can see, vocal change doesn’t happen fast, and there’s no way make it go faster. But it does happen if you keep doing the practice on a regular basis. Just embrace the long game, do the practice and trust the process. It will work for you. With just one year of practice you can reap the benefits of a good speaking voice for decades to come. I’d call that a bargain in terms of the time invested and the ultimate value of the outcome.
Voice Training: Managing Expectations
Voice training requires patience. Everyone wants to find their optimal voice as quickly as possible, but expecting results too soon causes discouragement and undermines your chances for success. Slow and steady is the way to approach voice training. Change won’t be fast but the improvements will be noticeable and permanent.