3 Steps to Create a Super Voice for Vocal Marathons

 In Presence, Vocal Health
crowd of people gathering together

Ever since people have been trying to be heard over a crowd, there have been hoarse voices, but nowhere is this more apparent than in the race to grab the Presidency in the US. An article in the NY Times stated that the Republican Primary Campaign “has a cold,” and described vocal issues experienced by the candidates due to the extreme demands on their voices, while MSNBC actually interrupted the broadcast of a speech by Hillary Clinton in order to discuss her voice, which was obviously hoarse from overuse.  With nearly 8 months to go, the candidates are already showing signs of vocal fatigue, problems that would put most people on immediate vocal rest, i.e. silence! 

Since that’s not an option for a presidential candidate, they soldier on with raspy voices as their vocal images fade into a shadow of their former glory. (This could be good for the rest of us if they now feel they will only speak if they have something to say that is worth the pain of croaking it out.)

Although the race for the Presidency seems to create extraordinary conditions for vocal use, executives often speak non-stop for 8-12 hours a day, as do teachers and attorneys. According to voice practitioner, Joanna Cazden, voice over artists spend hours in a studio creating voices for games, making sounds that are harsh and hard on the vocal folds.  Singers go on tour, and day after day they have to be heard by thousands when they cannot hear themselves, and they over sing to compensate. Success in these vocal marathons is threatened by the physical demands of travel, eating on the run, colds and flu, and sleep deprivation– universal experiences in a global economy.

Bernie Sanders giving a speech

It’s tough to have to depend on your voice when you know the requirements of your job put your voice at risk for vocal damage; everyone knows that in today’s competitive landscape, the one who stops talking (or singing) is the one who starts losing. Yet, is it any better to have a voice that gives people the perception that you are weak or hedging because your vocal folds are so raw that you can’t make a strong sound? Conversely, if you have to shout in order to bring your inflamed vocal folds together to make a sound, others may judge that you are yelling at them, which is exactly what is happening to Clinton. Your vocal image is the perception people have of you from the sound of your voice, and that perception is created in the first 8 words that you speak when the race has just begun.

For the current candidates, it’s already too late to create the super voice they needed. They can only hope to get a little time off to recover after the primaries, or enough cortisone to keep complete voice loss at bay long enough to finish the race. But they will be limping to the finish line. Your super voice, however, doesn’t have to be a lost cause.  In order to find it, you have get to know your voice and treat it like it is important to you BEFORE you have a problem with it. If you know you have vocal demands greater than the average person, take a lesson from the athlete’s handbook and do something about it before your only resort is repair rather than prevention.

Donald Trump in a crowd

Here’s how to create a super voice:

1.     Learn good vocal technique: Minimize vocal distress when put to the test of extreme vocal use by finding a good voice coach and learning how your voice works and how to use it;  find out about posture and breathing. Eat a diet that supports a strong voice. Exercise it to make it strong and, above all, practice regularly to keep your technique in shape.

2.     Adopt good vocal maintenance habitsDrink lots of water and build vocal rest into your day. Keep fit with vocalizes and warm-ups before voice use.

3.     Follow good vocal care practices: when there is an issue emerging, the right care helps to prevent problems that lead to severe, permanent damage. Learn when to seek help from an otolaryngologist. For starters, if you have chronic hoarseness, get help. If you wake up with laryngitis, get help. If your voice hurts, get help. Get help before a lingering vocal issue shuts you down for a long, long time and you have to get out of the race for good.

To learn more about these three steps to create a super voice,

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Photo 62076681 © Tommy Jeffers – Dreamstime.com

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