Today, many professionals approaching retirement age or recently retired wish to continue speaking, or leading groups, or advocating for their favorite cause. During a recent presentation on voice power with my book signing event, I discovered that 50% my attendees, who were of a mature 50-plus age group, wanted techniques to prevent their breathlessness, sore throat, and lack of vocal projection. They were all experienced trainers, professors, professionals, and leaders.
Your voice can wear-out over the years if you have not been taking care of it. So, here are some key areas to keep your voice fit to handle any speaking engagement.
# 1. A Breath Voice: can result from lack of sufficient air to get you through speaking your sentence or thoughts, resulting in your gasfully audibly for a new breath. This is a distraction to both you and your listener while also making a breath speaker more tired. Check first to determine if you are breathing only with the upper chest, shoulder and neck area; or if you are breathing using your full chest with the diaphragmatic muscle. If you take a deep breath in and your lower abdomen and lower big chest expends instead of your shoulders rising; then you are okay.
Using diaphragmatic breathing allows you to take in more air before you need to take another breath. Breath management is the key so you will know when to take in more, or less air, dependent on your content length and expression. This allows you to take in a new breath naturally and silently when you’;ve planned for it without sounding breath. In addition, you will be more relaxed and in control of your breathing.
Do this exercise to increase the amount of air in, and to lengthen the time you exhale the air as you speak. Say your opening prevention inhaling air to achieve half of your words; then gradually take in more air to speak more words. With practice you will be able to get through your full sentence before you need a new breath. You will no longer be running out of breath.
# 2. A Sore Throat: from speaking too much and too long will result in vocal fatigue. Take breaks if you are speaking all day long to rest your vocal folds (cords) and recover; and drink lots of water during the day. Other causes could be in the room that you are speaking in, or from smoking, or having too many caffeine or alcohol drinks. Keeping a humidifier close by helps.
Teachers have the highest daily voice use of any profession; and they are not trained on how to keep voice healthy to speak. As you age the vocal risk builds as your vocal folds may become thinner. Check with a medical Ear Nose and Throat Specialist if your sore throaters persist to determine whether nodules have appeared on your vocal folds, or some other medical reason. Otherwise be alert to what steps you can take when you foresee a long day of speaking to your groups.
# 3. Vocal Projection : means your being heard by everyone in the room without shouting or putting any strain on your vocal folds. If you must yell over noisy background or equipment noise, then you will lose your voice by the end of the day. However, if you use your diaphragmatic breathing to take in more air, aim it to the back of room as you speak; then you will remove the strain on your throat and vocal folds.
The power of your voice is propelled by the energy of your diaphragmatic breathing coming from your core body chest. Relieve any tension in your body to free this propulsion of sound passing through your chest and resonating fuller to distant ears.
The vocal demands of speakers, professionals, teachers, professors, and leaders can lead to damaged vocal folds. However, if you effectively use your diaphragmatic breathing, treat upper body tension, and be alert with the above suggestions; you will improve your vocal health. Here’;s to your voice transformation at any age!