Recently, I woke up to a raspy voice on the day after I delivered a full day workshop. Why was my throat so sore and my voice not its usual self? Maybe it had something to do with how I had taken for granted my most valuable asset as a speaker – my voice.
With so much thought and energy given to the content and delivery of my presentation, I had neglected the very instrument through which I was to deliver to my audience. Many of us do know, on a subconscious level, our audiences do judge us by our voices. Our personality, competence, and even leadership ability comes through in our voice, so it is in our best interest to keep it healthy.
Based on the book, Full Voice: The Art of Practice of Vocal Presence by vocal coach and singer Barbara McAfee, here are five recommendations to support a more powerful and healthy voice:
- Drink lots of water. Your vocal chords need to stay hydrated to vibrate and function the way they are supposed to.
- Breathe deeply. Practice diaphragmatic breathing regularly, as insufficient breath causes tension in your throat.
- Use good posture. Standing tall improves airflow and enables effective breathing.
- Release tension around your neck, throat, and jaw area with stretching or massage. Big, open yawns and neck rolls throughout your day can help release tightness and open up the natural flow of your voice.
- Rest your voice. Rest your voice before and after long speaking events. During a long speaking event, alternate speaking with participant activities. Avoid yelling – use a microphone if your audience size will cause a strain on your voice.
Think of your voice as your instrument. Keeping it well tuned and healthy will improve its strength, stamina, and flexibility. And most importantly, your audiences will find you easy to listen to and your message will be heard.
(For more information and videos on exercises to expand your vocal presence, check out Barbara’s website: http://www.fullvoice.net .)