December 19, 2022

Voice Health: Taking Care of Yours

Public Speaking , Vocal Delivery

We've all heard the political candidates in the last days of the campaign, voices raspy from giving speech after speech. Overuse is one reason you might be putting your vocal production under stress.

The cold and flu season can be another.

As we move through this winter hoping to keep our voices healthy, we hear a lot of advice: don’t whisper, drink honey, do warm up exercises before you speak. Of course, some of these tips are more valuable than others.

Here are three quick tips we found from the National Institutes of Health that can help you preserve your ability to make a little noise. 

Rest and drink water

Water, the NIH says, is the best liquid for keeping your vocal folds hydrated. A humidifier in winter can also help.

And rest? Apparently, rest of every kind is helpful for the voice. Vocal naps (times when you don’t speak) are a good idea throughout the day, especially before or after a speaking engagement.

Sleeping enough is beneficial, too. Overall physical fatigue can harm the voice and also makes you more vulnerable to colds and flu.

And if your voice is tired or hoarse or if you're sick, give your voice a break. It seems like common sense, but many of us are too quick to muddle through. Sickness and overuse make your vocal folds vulnerable. 

Avoid vocal extremes

Yelling for your favorite basketball team or whispering to "save" your voice creates more stress. Particularly if your throat is feeling scratchy or your voice is getting raspy, try to avoid both.

You might also want to limit conversations in noisy environments, like a busy restaurant or conference exhibit hall, when you're trying to preserve your voice. The effort to make yourself heard will tax your voice more than you may realize.

Consider seeking help

Help might be seeing a doctor if your voice suddenly becomes raspy or changes, in order to make sure everything's in good shape.

Or if you regularly lose your voice when speaking, consider voice therapy. A speech pathologist can coach you in using techniques that will help you project your voice in healthier ways.

And help might be as simple as using a microphone, particularly if your voice is already feeling strained.

Learn more

Find detailed information from the NIH here

Explore some of the pros and cons of home remedies for the voice in this article from UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

On a speaking tour, preparing for a long run of pitches at a trade show, or giving a series of presentations to clients? See how Duke Health counsels call center employees to preserve their voices from overuse.

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