Copyright 2006 Deborah Torres Patel
Most of us use our voices all day long but only a few people are aware of how to take care of your voice to guarantee optimum vocal health and vocal power. Common sense vocal rules can really help you to perform, present & speak well. These simple vocal care tips will help you to become more confident, keep your vocal cords in tip top shape & put your best voice forward.
KEEP YOUR VOCAL FOLDS HYDRATED
A moist vocal tract will give you the best sound with the least amount of vocal effort so it is wise to stay hydrated. Vocal health experts agree that you should drink a minimum of eight glasses of water per day. To keep your vocal cords functioning optimally, before and during an important presentation, anything you drink should be room temperature or close to body temperature. Ideally drinks should not be too hot or too cold because extreme temperatures can de-neutralize your sensitive vocal instrument.
If you travel frequently via airplane, drink lots of water while flying. Recycled air in planes is extremely dehydrating to the voice & skin. Speaking above the level of the constant often-unnoticed engine noise can put a great strain on your voice so talk as little as possible if you need to deliver a presentation on the same day that you fly.
The day before and the day of an important presentation try to avoid alcohol, smoking and second-hand smoke, caffeine, antihistamines and chocolate – note that penicillin and many prescription drugs also dry out vocal cords.
PREVENT EXCESS VOCAL MUCOUS
Many people find dairy products phlegm producing so if this is an issue for you avoid dairy. Also limit your sugar intake, including sugary drinks before giving a speech, presentation or public speaking. Stick with warm or room temperature water on the day of a presentation for optimum vocal performance.
If you need to entertain for work or like the occasional alcoholic drink with dinner, the night before and the day of your presentation avoid red wine, grain alcohol, vodka and beer because they can sometimes spark allergic reactions that decrease your vocal power. If you must drink for social reasons or simply cannot abstain before your presentation, choose white wine instead.
Women who are pregnant, lactating or menstruating will generally experience extra vocal mucous and vocal cord swelling. To manage this simply take more time to warm up than usual and drink extra fluids to ensure your vocal cords are moist and flexible.
Speakers often clear their throats as a nervous habit. Try not to do this. Instead, cough gently or silently. Then build up saliva in your mouth, lower your chin to your chest, and swallow.
If you are feeling unwell or struggling vocally, dont speak with a forced whisper. The reason for this is that your tiny crycothyroid muscle at the back of your throat weakens and wears out much faster than if you just speak normally.
The best way to manage an ailing voice is to use your voice as little as possible or to give yourself complete vocal rest for 12 to 24 hours. If that isnt possible, make sure you warm up slowly and gently with a nasal focus to keep any strain off of your throat and voice. Only light and gentle vocal exercises should be performed if you are unwell.
For optimum vocal performance before or during an important presentation dont drink anything carbonated because it could cause you to burp.
Many peak performance trainers also suggest following basic food combining principles like not combining protein and starch in the same meal and eating fruit only on an empty stomach. The food combining rules arent for everyone but if you do choose to follow them you will have access to significantly more energy because the body doesnt have to work as hard to digest the food in your stomach. Consequently more energy can be channeled into your presentation.
You can chew gum or suck on lozenges to keep your vocal folds moist. I have found lozenges with glycerin to be the most soothing to the voice. Also stay away from menthol flavors because they tend to irritate delicate vocal folds.
To comfort a fatigued voice, many vocal professionals choose to drink honey and lemon in warm water. Warm peppermint or chamomile tea with or without honey can also be very soothing to the voice. The natural peppermint will give you energy and the chamomile will calm you. You can also mix peppermint & chamomile together for variety.
Finally, ample sleep and complete vocal rest are the best solutions to heal an overly stressed voice. If you are leading up to an important presentation and are in any way nervous about it, following these simple vocal rules will really help you. In order to perform, present or speak well it is best to do everything you can to get out of our own way physically, vocally and psychologically. Again, these simple vocal care tips will help you to become more confident, keep your vocal cords in tip top shape and put your best voice forward.