You may not be performing at Wembley or on Broadway, but it’s still important to take care of the musical instrument we all have – our voice.
(1) Drink more water: If you are dehydrated it will affect all the lubrication systems in your body. Drink eight glasses of water daily and avoid tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks. If you have a dry throat just before you speak, sip a small amount of water, hold it in your mouth for a second, and then swallow.
(2) Rest and sleep: Sufficient rest and sleep are vital to keep the voice healthy. If the body is tired, it will not be able to support the voice effectively. On the day of an important presentation or speech, conserve your vocal output and let your voice rest.
(3) Relax: Avoid stress if possible, as it is a significant factor in vocal fatigue and strain. If you’re feeling stressed try walking, swimming, tai chi or yoga to relax.
(4) Irritants: Irritants like smoke are best avoided. Cigarettes dry the throat and affect the mucous lining. They also impact negatively on breath control. Fumes from varnish or paint can also affect the throat, so avoid being exposed to both until after your presentation.
(5) Exercise: Regular exercise and keeping fit are also important, but be aware of your neck and throat especially if you are doing sit-ups or weight training – it is easy to get tight around your throat area and strain your voice.
(6) Warm up: All the muscles connected to voice production, and not just the vocal chords, need to be warmed up before going into action, just like the other muscles in the body. A five minute vocal workout as outlined below should be sufficient.
The Simple Vocal Workout
Stand tall. Start with a full body stretch. Lift your left arm as high as it can do. Repeat the full body stretch with the right arm. Wrap your arms around yourself, as far as you can. Roll your shoulders forwards, then backwards. Point your elbows as high as your can. This will stretch the diaphragm. Point your chin to the ceiling. Then point it to the floor. Look to the left, then to the right.
Stick your tongue out as far as it will go. Then, try to touch your nose with your tongue. Then, move your tongue down as far as possible. Move your tongue from side to side.
Open your mouth as wide as you can. Roll your r’s. Puff your cheeks out. Do a growling sneer. Say your vowels like Eliza Doolittle, and open your mouth as wide as you can. Rest your chin on your chest, and inhale by counting to ten. Exhale by counting to 15. Puff out the remaining air, like blowing out birthday candles. Repeat two or three times.
Finish off with some tongue twisters such as, “She sells sea shells on the sea shore”.