If you have ever lost your voice, you will understand how important
it is in functioning in the world. So it is also a good idea to know how
to take care of your voice especially prior to a speaking event.
So, How Does Your Voice Work
When you speak, sing laugh, sob or make any noise, air comes up
from your lungs, through the trachea (windpipe) into the larynx
(located in your throat) and through your vocal folds (two folds of
tissue usually called vocal chords) and then out through your mouth
When resting, your vocal folds are open to a “V” shape to let air pass
freely through without any obstruction.
When you make a noise, the brain sends quick messages to
coordinate the tiny cartilage muscles connected to your vocal folds,
to remain closed. The air pressure builds up against the closed folds
and when it passes through it vibrates.
These vibrations then travels through the vocal folds into the
resonating cavities. The sound is then amplified and shaped into
words by your ‘articulators’, your nose, mouth, palate, tongue and
lips to make relevant sounds. The size and shape of these cavities
along with your vocal folds helps then to determine the sound and
quality of your voice.
HABITS THAT HINDER YOUR VOICE
Excessive Use of Voice: If you find yourself having to shout, scream
or make unnaturally harsh sounds for long periods of time, then
chances are, you are damaging your vocal folds. Be aware of
overuse and try to avoid these things.
Excessive Coughing and clearing your throat. The actions of
coughing and clearing the throat, slams the vocal chords together
creating damage to the area this can cause slight inflammation. Try
gentle swallowing or drinking water to help elevate the irritations.
Smoking: Any kind of smoke will irritate your throat, whether you
are smoking or just standing in the vicinity. This will result in
inflammation and a stiffening of your muscles. Also continued use of
smoking will damage your vocal chords and lungs but dries up your
vocal chords. That is why so many smokers have deep husky, raspy
voices, due to prolonged damage to their vocal chords.
Avoid Alcohol and Coffee: Alcohol especially when you are due to
speak, as this can cause acid indigestion whereupon the spray of acid
will inflame and irritate the vocal folds. It will also along with coffee
and tea act as a diuretic. Don’t wanting you running off to the toilet
just before you are due to speak.
Avoid dairy. All diary will create mucus ,which will coat your throat
and your vocal chords. This will make the vocal chords resonate
with a muted and distorted sound. You may also have to continually
clear your throat, so keep away from dairy products before
Eliminate slouching or bad posture. We can all be guilty of bad
posture but it is so closely related to your breath and your voice it
cannot be ignored. It also gives off the signal that you have low self-
esteem or confidence. Remember the non-verbal signals we give
HABITS THAT BENEIT A HEALTHY VOICE
Rest and Relaxation: if you have a sore throat or an infection the
best thing you can do is to rest your voice and don’t speak. That’s the
best medicine! Also if you are stressed, so will your throat and voice
be. Find ways to relax, be it listening to music, slow deep breathing,
reading, meditation or going for a walk. If it relaxes you, it will help
to relax your voice.
Hydrate: Drink lots of water, around 6 to 8 glasses a day to
consistently lubricate your vocal chords, nose, throat and chest.
Without lubrication your vocal chords may become dry and tense.
This may lead to coughing and the clearing of the throat which can
damage the vocal folds. Also be aware of central heating which can
also dry your throat. Being nervous can stop the saliva glands
working effectively, so have water to hand and sip frequently, even
when on stage.
Good posture: Be aware of how you are standing, it starts with
awareness. Good posture means back straight, shoulders back, head
held up. This in turn will give the air rising from your diaphragm an
easy and clear passage through your chest, throat and out of the
mouth making crystal clear sounds.
Suck sweets, mints or cough drops: Sucking glycerin based sweets
and mints will help to reduce the need to cough or throat clear and
will keep the saliva glands working effectively.
Yawning: Yawning is your body dispelling a build up of too much
carbon dioxide due to inactivity or sitting still and its needs to get rid
of it, as it can be harmful. So when you yawn, you dispel carbon
dioxide and take in a new batch of fresh oxygen, which in turn helps
to re-energize you. Another added benefit is that it also helps to
relax your throat as well as to improve your voice. So take 5 big
yawns and it actually will help.
Breathing. Many people breathe shallow in their chest. Breathing
in deep from your nose, deep down into your diaphragm allows air to
pass freely through your vocal chords thereby producing clear vocal
vibrations, as well as It helps to relax the body’s muscles, increase
the air flow, increased oxygen to the body’s tissue, relaxes the
muscles in the neck, throat and calm your heart rate. If your
shoulders move up when you breath, then you are not breathing
from your diaphragm.