The voice of authority: preserving your speaking voice
Whether it’s the rich, resonant tones of Richard Burton, the breathiness of Marilyn Monroe or the nasality of Fran Drescher, the sound of the voice can influence how people perceive you.
In fact, communication studies indicate that the voice is 38 percent of the message.
Since most small business owners do a lot of speaking to market their services, it’s important to keep your voice in good shape.
If you sound hoarse, it may be due to an inflammation near the back part of the larynx caused by acid reflux. Thirty-five million people in the U.S.have acid reflux, which may be caused by stress and a poor diet.
The major symptoms are:
- Vocal fatigue
- Lack of projection
- Hoarseness as the day wears on
- Throat clearing
- Increased phlegm in the throat
Here are some tips to keep your voice in good shape:
1. Don’t talk over loud background noise or constantly clear your throat.
2. If you are hoarse, try hydration and steam. Frequent travelers should avoid the dry air in a hotel room. Turn on the shower and fill the room with steam if possible.
3. Avoid alcohol, chocolate and caffeine before a speech. They dehydrate the mucous membranes.
4. To keep the voice in top shape, drink eight glasses of water a day, avoid dairy products and eat a balance of protein and carbohydrates.
5. Practice “safe speaking” by using disposable hand sanitizers to clean off telephone mouthpieces.
6. To minimize the effects of a cold, use zinc lozenges with 12.5 mgs of zinc.
7. Don’t sit near fans and air conditioners.
The key to vocal fitness is good breathing and being relaxed. Most people don’t breathe adequately. To project your voice, work on your breathing.
Practice breathing into your belly by pushing it out like a balloon, holding it for 5-10 seconds, then releasing the air with a sound for 5-10 seconds. This will give you vocal power as well as reducing speaking jitters.
Before a presentation, warm up your voice with these exercises:
1. breathing down low in the chest
3. lip trills (brr brr brr..)
4. tongue trills
5. syllable drills (puh tuh kuh/ buh duh guh) to warm up tongue/jaw motion
Remember, your vocal cords are muscles. Frequent speaking can fatigue the voice, so build in time for vocal rest. With proper breathing, voice training and vocal hygiene, any speaker can master true vocal power.