When trying to improve professional communication skills, most people focus on two factors: developing efficient, effective professional language, and speaking with clarity and confidence. However, there is one crucial factor that often gets overlooked: vocal quality. If you’re like most professionals, you use your voice non-stop throughout the workday. Vocal strain and fatigue are common by-products of over-using your voice. However, there are certain strategies you can use to keep your voice healthy and strong no matter how much you use it.
Don’t Scream: This may seem like common sense, but speaking or yelling at high volumes actually happens more frequently than we realize. Whether at a sporting event or concert, talking to someone in another room, or losing your temper, avoid the temptation to raise your voice. Screaming or speaking at high volumes for even short periods of time can cause damage to your vocal folds.
Don’t Talk Over Loud Noise: We often find ourselves in situations in which normal, conversational speech volume isn’t loud enough to be heard. Usually, when people are in these situations, they simply continue to raise their voice until they can be heard. This can cause strain and damage to the vocal cords. To maintain a strong, healthy voice, avoid doing this unless absolutely necessary. Instead, your first line of defense should be to change the environment, not your voice. If there’s significant noise from outside the room, shut the windows or door. If you’re speaking to someone who is far away, walk over and speak to them instead of shouting. If there is sudden, transient noise, wait for it to pass and then continue your conversation instead of raising your voice to be heard above the noise.
Hydrate: Parched vocal cords can be easily damaged and decrease the quality of your voice. Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the workday, especially situations in which you’ll be speaking for a long time or in front of a group of people. Also, try not to over-do it on the coffee—caffeine is dehydrating and can dry out your vocal cords.
The Microphone Is Your Friend: Whenever possible, use a microphone when giving a presentation, especially in noisy environments. When speaking in small or medium groups, many people decline audio assistance and simply raise their voice. Don’t be a hero: take the mic, and give your vocal cords a break.
Want to learn more about how to keep your voice healthy? Take a look at the video below by Corporate Speech Solutions President and Founder, Jayne Latz!
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