Do you ever feel so tired of talking that, by the end of the day, you don’t want to say even one more word?
If your work involves using your voice a lot (meeting with clients or customers, talking on the phone, making presentations, etc.), you may run into problems with vocal fatigue.
Vocal fatigue (or vocal problems) can show up in a number of ways:
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Hoarse voice
- Pain or discomfort when you speak
- Losing your voice altogether
Even if you are dealing with a medical problem, following are some guidelines that you can use to protect and strengthen your voice. The bonus you get from these strategies is that they actually help to improve the sound of your voice. So if you are one of the many people who is not in love with your voice, read on!
Guideline #1 – Whether You Speak or You Sing, Your Body Is Your Instrument
How well your voice functions depends a great deal upon how well you take care of your instrument, i.e. your body. Here are three vital things to know and do.
- You cannot expect your voice to function well if the rest of your body is tired, or even exhausted. Bodily fatigue leads directly to vocal fatigue. As challenging as it may be, make every effort to get enough sleep every night.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Your voice requires a well hydrated body. Since the rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day, most of us are severely dehydrated. No wonder we suffer from dry mouth, sore throats, etc.
- Avoid anything that either dehydrates you or irritates your throat – including caffeine (a diuretic), smoking, and dry air in buildings, to name just a few of the most important items.
Guideline #2 – Treat Your Voice As If It Were a Pipe Organ
The pipes in pipe organs only make sounds when air is pushed through them. Unfortunately for us, our vocal chords (or more properly vocal folds) function even when we don’t push air through them.
Not supporting our vocal chords with air when we speak or sing forces them to do a lot more work than they were designed to do. Thus it is vital to get into the habit of taking a breath every time you start to speak, and to continue to do so as you continue to talk.
Try this experiment. Intentionally say something without taking a breath first. Then take a nice deep breath and say the exact same thing a second time, supporting what you say with your breath. Keep experimenting with this until you can really hear a difference.
When you take those deep breaths before speaking; not only will your vocal chords metaphorically do a happy dance, your voice itself will sound richer, rounder, and more resonant.
It takes time to get into the habit of continually taking breaths as you talk. Doing so will reward you with both a much more reliable voice, and also a much more pleasant and powerful sounding voice. That difference will inspire you to cultivate the habit of always supporting your vocal chords with your breath.
Following these guidelines will give you a great start on avoiding vocal fatigue, while at the same time improving, protecting and strengthening the quality of your voice.
Go for it! And please let me know how you do.