Five Tips for Keeping Your Voice Healthy
Your voice is a key part of your presentation delivery. And having a tired, hoarse voice can negatively impact your presentation.
I’ve conducted many training programs where I’ve had to present for five or six hours a day for five days in a row. And I’ve also sung in choirs and as a soloist. So I understand how important it is to take care of my voice so I can rely on it being ready when I need it.
Here are my five tips for keeping your voice healthy:
Drink plenty of water, and not just during your presentation, but also before your presentation so you can stay hydrated. Room temperature or warm water works best for me. I also drink warm tea without caffeine. I find that cold water, particularly ice water, actually constricts my vocal cords, and makes me feel hoarse, making it much harder for me to project my voice. Gargling with warm water and salt also helps (and the salt is natural disinfectant). Find something that works to keep your voice well lubricated.
2. Control the room environment
Sometimes you’re in a room that is too hot, too cold or dry and that can quickly give you a sore throat. Check out the room before you present and decide if you need to open a window, lower the heat or increase the air conditioning.
Rest is crucial. You need adequate sleep the night before a presentation so your voice sounds rested (and you are alert and focused). And you should rest your voice, so no screaming at a sporting event the night before. You can’t fake rest – if your voice is tired, people will hear it.
If you’re going to do several presentations over a few days or conduct multi-day training programs, you have to accept the fact that you will tire your voice and will need extra rest. It's like working out – if you do bicep curls with weights, you expect that your muscles will be sore the next day. As you gradually build up strength, you’ll be able to lift more weights without feeling as sore. The same is true with your voice.
Breathing properly keeps your voice supported. Take full deep breaths from your diaphragm and core that will support your voice to the end of the sentence, rather than taking shallow breaths from the top of your chest that cause you to run out of air. If you do yoga or Pilates, or you swim or sing, use that same kind of breathing.
5. Warm up your voice
In preparation for your presentation, do some vocal warm-ups, much the same way as you would do flexibility stretches with your body. Vocalize from high to low – just open your mouth wide and say “ah,” making a continuous sound with a pitch that goes from high to low. Pronounce consonants and vowels and really move your lips. Repeat the “t” sound and the “k” sound, for example.
Screw up your face and then relax it. You may feel silly doing these exercises but they will help you loosen up and open up your voice.
If you follow these five tips and take care of your voice before, during and after your presentation, you can keep your voice sounding energized, full, supported and healthy.
Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people from all walks of life improve their communication and presentation skills.
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