Have you ever lost your voice, or had a bad sore throat, or such a bad cough, that you were not able to carry on with your daily activities, let alone do all the talking necessary for your work?

If so, you are certainly not alone! Many a speaker or person in business who depends on making speeches, presentations and phone calls, has run into this problem.

Just yesterday I received an email canceling the taping of a podcast on which I was scheduled to be interviewed. The host of the podcast had been struggling with a bad cough and sore throat and simply was not able to use her voice effectively in any speaking situation, let alone one to be recorded for posterity.

So what is a person to do to heal one’s voice? Better yet, how can you avoid vocal troubles in the first place?

Here’s my handy-dandy list, based on my years of training as both a singer and a voice actor. Enjoy!

  1. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! By the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. The better rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily. (Did you honestly think that 8 glasses of water a day would work equally well for both Peewee Herman and Michael Jordan?)
  2. Drink warm or room temperature water with a slice of lemon. Cold or ice water is not helpful. I leave a slice of lemon in my cup all day and simply add water as needed. Although it tastes acidic; lemon turns alkaline in your body, which supports your health.
  3. Breathe through your nose, not your mouth. Breathing through your mouth dries out the tissues in your throat and vocal folds, aka your vocal chords. Unless your nose is stuffy, keep your mouth closed when you are not talking or singing.
  4. Don’t yell! It’s hard on your throat. Whispering is not so great either.
  5. Stop talking! Get vocal rest when you can. If you have to talk all day, either on the phone or teaching classes or whatever; try not to spend all your free time yakking with family and friends.
  6. Try this dry mouth trick: When your mouth feels dry and there is no water easily available, rub your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Doing this will get the saliva going. This is particularly useful if your mouth gets dry from nervousness right before you have to speak.

Just remember. Whether you speak or you sing, your body is your instrument. It’s up to you to keep it in tune.

Happy talking!