How to Look After Your Speaking Voice
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 and nose.
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.
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.
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 speaking.
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 out.
Habits That Benefit 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.
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.
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 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.
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 breathe, then you are not breathing from your diaphragm.
Have you found anything works well for you – if so please leave your comments below.