Today, April 16th, is World Voice Day!
It's an opportunity to celebrate the amazing instrument that connects us to virtually every other person on the planet (and no, I'm not talking about the Internet.)
The voice is one of those things we take for granted until it fails us, whether a case of laryngitis due to overuse/abuse, an illness, or anything else. Here are a few tips to take care of your voice so it can take care of you:
- Drink plenty of water! It's important to keep hydrated. Caffeine and alcohol have the opposite effects and the voice can suffer so limit those options and stick with healthier options.
- Avoid dairy before a speaking engagement – including a simple phone call or meeting. Dairy (which I love) can cause excess mucous/phlegm, so unless you want to continually be clearing your throat, stay away from them too. Citrus can help counter those effects, so add a few drops of lemon juice to your water to give it a little zing.
- Breath support is key. Check your posture: are you a perpetual sloucher, whether standing or sitting? If so, you aren't getting a full breath of air, which is the “fuel” for your voice. It has a negative effect on volume, clarity, endurance (you'll run out of breath easily), and increases the likelihood of “vocal fry,” that annoying crackling sound that makes people sound indifferent or insecure. While men and women, old and young, commit this faux pas, women get the brunt of the bad “rap” for it, even influencing hiring decisions.
- Use a microphone when possible. Plenty of us decline to use a mic when it's available, declaring, “oh, I have a big mouth, I don't need it!” But more often than not, you're wrong: acoustics of the room, audience members with undeclared hearing impairments, and our own unrecognized tendencies to trail off at the end of sentences, or speak loudly enough to be easily heard by ourselves but not by those toward the back of the room, are all landmines that sabotage our ability to be heard… or we try to compensate for all those things and PUSH our voices to be heard by everyone. But then you're practically yelling, and without breathing from the diaphragm (see point 3 above) you're just straining your vocal cords, and that causes the very problem we're trying to avoid!
So remember these simple tips and practice them regularly to make sure your voice projects the best image of you!
To good vocal health and communication,