When you use your voice for a living, it’s vitally important to protect your vocal health.
Here are some tips to keep your most precious resource functioning smoothly.
1. Know Your Instrument
The sound of your voice is produced by vibration of the vocal folds, which are two bands of smooth muscle tissue that are positioned opposite one another in the larynx. The larynx is located between the base of the tongue and the top of the trachea, which is the passageway to the lungs. When you are not speaking, the vocal folds are open so that you can breathe.
When it’s time to speak, a series of things happen: the vocal folds snap together while air from the lungs blows past, making them vibrate. The vibrations produce sound waves that travel through the throat, nose, and mouth, which act as resonating cavities to modulate the sound. The quality of your voice—its pitch, volume, and tone—is determined by the size and shape of the vocal folds and the resonating cavities.
2. Healthy Body, Healthy Voice
Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoke irritates the vocal folds.
Get enough rest. Physical fatigue has a negative effect on voice.
Exercise regularly. Exercise increases stamina and muscle tone. This helps to provide good posture and breathing, which are necessary for proper speaking.
Avoid mouthwash or gargles that contain alcohol or irritating chemicals. If gargling is necessary, use a salt water solution.
Keep your sinuses clear by doing nasal irrigation daily. The saline solution rinses out your nasal passages, restores moisture and eases inflammation of the mucous membranes that line your sinuses.
3. Know When to Speak … and When to Shut Up!
Try not to overuse your voice. Avoid speaking or singing when your voice is hoarse or tired.
Illness puts extra stress on your voice. Rest your voice when you are sick.
Avoid using the extremes of your vocal range, such as screaming or whispering. Talking too loudly and too softly can both stress your voice.
Avoid talking in noisy places. Trying to talk above noise causes major strain on the voice.
4. Warm Up and Breathe (Correctly)
Do lip or tongue trills in the morning (try it in the shower or on your drive to work) to facilitate better use of airflow and breath.
Perform gentle humming and cooing to warm up your voice in the morning.
You can also repeat these exercises throughout the day to reduce muscular tension in the neck, shoulders and jaw.
Talking from the throat, without supporting breath, puts a great strain on the voice.
Use this resource to learn and practice good breathing techniques.
5. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Drink plenty of water. Six to eight glasses a day is recommended.
Limit your intake of drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine, which can cause the body to lose water and make the vocal folds and larynx dry. Alcohol also irritates the mucous membranes that line the throat.
Use a humidifier in your home. This is especially important in winter or in dry climates. Thirty percent humidity is recommended.
Avoid or limit use of medications that dry out the vocal folds, including some common cold and allergy medications.
Article Supplied in Partnership with Such A Voice
Such A Voice offers voice over training and demo production to aspiring voice over artists through classes online or in person!
About the Author: Claudine Ohayon
As an actor and voice artist, Claudine’s commercial clients include Verizon, Listerine, MasterCard, Betty Crocker, Disney World, Pillsbury, Kitkat, JC Penney, Pepsi, Sony Music, Boston Market, and Secret Deodorant, among many others. She has voiced countless promos for clients that include USA Network, ESPN, VH1, and MTV, and was the live announcer for the first ever televised Hollywood Film Awards on CBS. Claudine recently appeared on camera in a tutorial for Sonnox plug-ins, highlighting her work on the technical side of life as a voice actor.
Claudine is also an Emmy Award-winning director/producer, native Brooklynite, fluent French speaker, published photographer, great Mom, excellent salad maker and is frequently the first one on the dance floor. She is currently represented by William Morris Endeavor.