Speaking tips when you have a bad voice

by | Nov 9, 2017

So you have a major speaking gig coming up, and your voice hurts.

That is probably every speaker’s worst nightmare, losing your voice or losing the vocal quality just before or after your speaking gig. There are loads of speaking tips that you can practise to keep your voice healthy. However,  the question is, when the voice hurts, what do you do?

Here are some DO NOT DO tips to follow when you are hit with a sore, raspy voice.

1) Do not throat clear / cough
Throat clearing and coughing, might be really tempting to do, however please remember to keep them to a minimum. Throat clearing and coughing are traumatic to the vocal cords and harm them when you are doing the action.
One of the most frequent causes for throat clearing and coughing is thick mucus (due to dry vocal folds) or too much mucus (as with a cold)/. The safest and most efficient way to clear mucus is by using a gentle, breathy productive cough where there is high airflow with little sound. This can be achieved by using the following strategy: take in as deep a breath as possible, momentarily hold your breath, and produce a sharp, silent “H” sound while you expel the air.

2) Do not take OTC ( Over the Counter) medication
Coming into Spring, Hay fever will increase pollen counts, and you will be tempted to get some antihistamines. Just be aware that antihistamines do their job, and dry out the mucus, which in turn will also dehydrate the voice. If you do really need the antihistamines, ask your chemist for a Nasal Steroid Spray, such as Nasonex to help relieve nasal allergies without drying.
There are many other decongestant drugs that dry the voice. If you are not sure if your drug is affecting your voice, feel free to contact me , and I will be happy to answer your question!

3) Reduce conversation in cars/planes/noisy restaurants/mobile phones
Cars, aeroplanes, and high ceilinged , noisy restaurants are great places to catch up on conversation. However, these are particularly bad for your voice. AVOID talking when you are at these places. As tempting as it might be to have full conversations when you are driving or sitting in a quiet airplane, they have their own vices. We usually use a higher volume than normal when talking in the car, as we are often talking to the earpiece or bluetooth, and competing against traffic noise.
In a quiet aeroplane, it may seem harmless to converse for lengthy times, however the dehydration will cause equal damage.
Noisy restaurants, or bars…need I say more? They would strain an already strained, overworked voice. Look for nice spots with good carpeting, low ceilings and low reverberation factor.

4) Do not whisper
Keep talking to a minimum, whilst you are recovering. And as tempting as it is, do not whisper your words. They make the vocal cords work harder, and in turn reduce your vocal rest.

5) Reduce caffeine, smoking, alcohol, acidic drinks
These are self – explanatory, but always serve as a pleasant reminder. Minimise consumption of these drinks & smoking, and your voice will be well on its way to sounding better.

Stay tuned for our next blog, where I will write about what you should be doing to prevent voice injuries. Prevention is better than cure anytime!

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