Caring for Your Voice


By Candice Coleman, Ph.D.

No matter how you use your voice, you must take care of it. Don’t you want it to be there when you need it? Those of us who use it professionally and act, present speeches or broadcasts for a living, must take even better care as we use, and abuse, our voices more often.

There should never be discomfort in your throat while speaking or performing vocal exercises. If your voice gets tired, that’s one thing. (All muscles do at some point if they’re used enough.) However, your vocal muscles should never HURT. If they do, stop what you’re doing and get professional advice.

Here are some suggestions to help you stay in top form.

  • Drink LOTS of water. Eight glasses per day should be a minimum, but in winter drink two or three more. Not only is the air dryer, but many of us are drinking more coffee and tea for warmth — both contain caffeine and are diuretics. They remove moisture from our bodies which must be replaced. Keep a bottle of water handy.

  • Make sure your voice is warmed up before you speak. The length of time you need to spend will vary depending on the conditions and your individual voice. With practice you’ll begin to find what works best for you. Include some breathing, relaxation and articulation drills (tongue twisters) in each session. Start slowly and gently and never, ever strain.

  • Don’t yell or scream during sporting and other events. It puts too much strain on your voice.

  • Your vocal mechanism is vulnerable at times of seasonal change, so treat it carefully. Also, keep a positive and upbeat attitude … it can’t hurt!

  • To avoid putting extra strain on the vocal mechanism, try not to cough or clear your throat. When the “frog” tires to arise, swallow first. If that doesn’t work, drink some water. As a last resort, clear or cough GENTLY.

  • Before you speak, don’t eat or drink anything containing chocolate or milk no matter how tempting that dessert looks! They’ll coat your throat. Your voice won’t be as clear sounding and you’ll want to do what I just said not to do – clear your throat.

  • Finally, if you find yourself losing your voice, don’t speak unless you must. Then speak quietly, but don’t whisper. The technical reasons are too long to explain here, but speaking softly is kinder to your vocal cords than whispering.

For more information and guidance, check out The Expressive Voice System by Dr. Coleman.

If you read sacred texts, click here for more articles directly related to this aspect of reading aloud.

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Photo Credit: David Coleman

©2019, Say It Well! Permission is given to reprint this article if the following is included: Reprinted by permission of Dr. Candice M. Coleman. She can be reached at 386-402-7047.

Troy McClenathan