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Meet Jenni Steck of Jenni Steck Voice & Speech Services

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenni Steck.

Jenni, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
The path to my current position has been winding. After earning a BFA in acting from SMU and an MFA in acting from the University of California, San Diego, I performed, coached, and taught in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, California, New York, and Texas. While in LA, I was lucky enough to form a theater company with other SMU alums, including my husband, Ira Steck, and television writers/producers, Aaron Ginsburg, Wade McIntyre, Samantha McIntyre and Janie Haddad. In 2006, my husband and I moved back to Texas to start a family.

During that transition, I had two children and went back to school for a second Master’s, this time in Speech-Language Pathology at UTD. I interned with the Voice Center at UTSW where I began to see how my two passions, care and development of the voice and helping cultivate great delivery, could overlap.

I began coaching for Barry Nash and Company to help anchors, reporters, and analysts sound their best on air. That work pulled me away from my full-time work as a speech therapist at a local skilled nursing rehab facility where I had been working with patients suffering from stroke, swallowing problems, Parkinson’s and other types of disorders. I took the leap and started my own business, Jenni Steck Voice & Speech Services.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I have had two major crossroads during this journey. The first was after our move from California to Texas. I had been steadily building a coaching career for actors and productions in LA, but the demand for that work was significantly smaller in Texas. I did have the opportunity to coach a few productions after moving to Texas (Straw Dogs for James Woods and Alexander Skarsgard; Butter for Alicia Silverstone and Kristen Schaal, and the NBC thriller Chase, to name a few), but the opportunities were not enough to support a growing family. I decided to go back to school for a degree in Speech-Language Pathology. I completed that degree with a 2-year-old and while pregnant with our second child. My husband supported us by waiting tables and earning his teaching certificate.

The second crossroads came after starting work with Barry Nash and Company. I had a great job that I loved, working with medical patients. However, the coaching work had me traveling once a month to Bristol, CT, to work with ESPN talent including Ray Lewis, Brian Dawkins, Brian Windhorts, and so many others. The travel did not work well with a full-time job. But the coaching work wasn’t quite enough to fill my calendar. I had to make the decision to leave my full-time job (with benefits!) to start my own company. It was the best decision for me at the time, and I have never looked back.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Jenni Steck Voice & Speech Services story. Tell us more about the business.
In my business, I have the privilege of working with a wonderful group of clients on any number of challenges. I offer accent modification training to rising stars who are limited in their upward mobility due to lack of clarity in their speech. I offer presentation coaching in which I work with the client on body language, voice quality, anxiety management, and overall presence. I work with actors (near and dear to my heart) who feel pigeonholed because of their voices or who need to work on an accent for an upcoming part. And I continue to work with patients struggling with medical diagnoses including Muscle Tension Dysphonia, nodules, polyps, and other issues that compromise communication.

But I don’t just work with individuals! I have a growing list of corporate clients, including Sewell Automotive, Hilton RMCC, Junior Players with DISD teacher training, and UNT Health Sciences. Together with the management teams, I develop and execute a growth plan to improve the communication skills of their associates.

Throughout the training process, whether it is with individuals or with businesses, I strive to be a resource that empowers and uplifts. Building confidence is often the most powerful coaching tool.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck for me has always been about being prepared and being willing to jump when an opportunity presents itself.

I feel like my past led me directly to where I am now. When I had the opportunity to start coaching for ESPN, for example, I would never have been able to seize that chance and turn it into a success had I not spent years honing my craft. And when the time came for me to jump into the role of entrepreneur, I would not have made it through the first year without relationships I had cultivated.

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