DIY Voice Care

by Speaking Tips | January 12, 2004

Unlike professional speakers and others who use their voices to make a living such as actors, singers, trainers and teachers, the occasional speaker is unlikely to have received professional advice on caring for their voices and minimizing the possible problems resulting from a health condition or their surrounding environment. It's also likely that they will not have received instruction on proper vocal production techniques.

That said, there are several things anyone can do to care for and condition their voice. The best advice we can give you is that prevention is a much better approach than seeking a cure once a problem has ocurred and that having said that, sometimes problems can't be prevented. Oh well!

Preventive Measures

  • Start exercising your voice daily as soon as the speaking event is calendared. Ten minutes of vocal or singing exercises in the car or shower will do wonders.

  • Arrange for the speaking event to take place in a speaker-friendly environment, free from dust, noise and fumes.

  • Build body-memory and awareness of your voice by recording and listening to how you sound.

  • Join a Toastmasters club and get a voice assessment involving such things as speaking speed, voice quality, articulation, intonation and range of variation in volume, pitch and pace.

  • Warm up with some relaxation exercises before speaking to loosen up. Many voice problems come from tension and stress. A pain in your foot will be reflected in your voice.

  • Learn proper breathing and relaxation techniques. You may need to take a class or work with a coach to get this type of instruction or you can learn it from singing, acting or athletic instruction. Power breathing is from the diaphragm and is also important for most sports and good health.

  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day for adequate hydration. This is particularly important if you are travelling by air to your speaking assigmnent since it is easy to become dehyrdated on airplanes.

  • Take water with you to the podium, lectern or your speaking site and sip it throughout your speaking event (room temperature is better than cold).

  • Avoid dairy products (this unfortunately includes most desserts), caffeine, liquor and smoking immediately before speaking. Consider giving up smoking permanently.

  • Use alternatives to yelling and screaming at sports events. Substitute bells, noise makers and foot stomping. In fact, avoid raising your voice at all unless it is necessary to do so.

  • Reduce the number of times you clear your throat by swallowing instead.

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