11 Surefire Ways to Keep Your Voice Strong & Healthy: Part 1

11 Surefire Ways to Keep Your Voice Strong & Healthy: Part 1

We did a quick survey the other day and found that about 75% of our clients had either completely lost their voice at some stage in their speaking career or at the very least had suffered from vocal strain and tiredness.

Had they been ill? Sometimes, but more often than not this generally happened after they had been speaking for extended periods of time or in situations where the stakes were really high.

Sound familiar? I hasten to add this happened before working with us of course!

So if you’ve ever suffered from vocal strain and tiredness, losing your voice (either partially or completely) for periods of time, or general vocal discomfort, then read on for a few tips on how you may preserve one of your most valuable assets – your voice.

First things first – let’s look at how we can avoid treating our voice badly in the first place.

‘Water is the only drink for a wise man’ Henry David Thoreau

To avoid dehydration and ensure you keep well hydrated drink at least 6 – 8 glasses of water a day.

Remember though, that drinking two litres of water right before a presentation won’t do anyone any favours. Needing to use the facilities five times in an hour can certainly interrupt the flow of your presentation (if you’ll excuse the pun).

Stay hydrated by sipping small amounts of water throughout the day. For the jetsetters amongst you, it is recommended that you increase your water intake in air-conditioned environments or during air travel.

Get rid of the ‘Hmm-hmm bug’

The occasional cough or attempt to clear your throat is certainly natural and can be useful. If you are a habitual offender however (ask your friends and colleagues….you may not even be aware you’re doing it) you run the risk of creating serious vocal discomfort.

Over a period of time this can irritate and inflame your vocal folds (also known as vocal cords) Instead, try to break the cycle by swallowing, or taking a sip of water whenever you feel the urge.

It’s a tough habit to break (speaking from experience) but your voice will thank you for it.

Moderate your caffeine intake

I certainly wouldn’t be one to deny you your ‘cup of joe’ of a morning, so we’re talking excessive caffeine consumption here.

Caffeine is both a stimulant and a diuretic, which as you’ll appreciate is not a great combination when trying to achieve a focused, connected presentation.

Stress – the nemesis of a healthy voice

Basically, whatever is good for your health and wellbeing is generally good for your voice. The opposite is also true.

As many of us have experienced, emotional stress can make us tense.

Unfortunately, our voices tend to reflect that tension. Wherever possible, try and address what is causing any excessive stress levels – both for your health and that of your voice.

How strange – I found my voice left the party before I did!

Speaking (or shouting) over excessive background noise for long periods of time can lead to vocal strain which may result in voice loss.

Going to a gig, having a few drinks in a crowded bar and cheering at your favourite sports game can be unavoidable at times – after all, life is for living – so as far as possible, try to maintain healthy vocal use and perhaps zip your lip if a major presentation is due the next day!

Temper the temptation to tipple

Ahem. Excuse us for stating the obvious here, but perhaps it may be wise to avoid excessive alcohol intake when speaking.

Alcohol not only dehydrates the body and voice, but also leads to losing a sense of how the voice is being used (remember Cousin Barry’s best man speech where he confessed to being in a relationship with the bride for the last eleven years??).

Last….but certainly not least!

You guessed it…smoking.

Smoking affects the voice by irritating the mucous membrane linings of your respiratory tract and larynx. Further to this, smoking leads to long-term damage of the lungs, which prevents essential vocal support.

There is the argument of course that smoking contributes to a husky, somewhat sexy vocal quality…personally, I’ve never been too sure how that measures up against the bad breath, discoloured teeth, vocal, lung, heart and circulation damage.

Speaking from experience, quitting smoking can be a tough one to crack …but it is possible.

OK – now you know what not to do – stay tuned for our next post where we investigate how you can stay on top of  maintaining optimum vocal health and power.

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