Saving your throat

At a recent performance of “A Little Night Music” on Broadway, one of the leads, Catherine Zeta-Jones, had to cancel due to a bad throat.    I found that interesting, as I’ve worked with actors and noticed – especially nowadays with Broadway performers being amplified – that many actors don’t support their voices.  Consequently, they may develop laryngitis or a raw throat and have to cancel a performance.

I often emphasize the importance of correct breathing as a key to vocal stamina and to help protect your voice and throat.  Here are other hints that will help  before a presentation.

  • Make sure you have plenty of rest.  Speaking, like acting, singing or dancing, is physical, and you need energy to support your voice.
  • Keep your throat moist and  “well oiled,” especially in air-conditioned rooms and in dry, winter air.   Avoid alcohol, and drink plenty of water.  Hard, sucking candies are also good.
  • Be sure you are breathing from your diaphragm or belly, thus supporting your voice.
  • At all costs, avoid yelling, which is very hard on your vocal cords.

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  1. #1 by Kay B. Meyer on May 22, 2010 - 5:54 pm

    Hello from your friendly Voice and Speech Trainer who is also a Licensed Speech and Language Pathologist:

    I am so glad you posted this topic. Don’t forget, that there is great benefit in consulting an SLP for an assessment of how you are using your voice–Is the larynx held too high, is your pitch too low for the structure of your vocal folds. If training is recommended to make your voice smoother and less harsh, to build up strength so you can appropriately project and not fatgigue, the course of training is usually short. Many clients require only 6 1-hour sessions.

    Kay B. Meyer, M.A., CCC-SLP
    Owner of You Are Your Voice

  2. #2 by E.G. Sebastian on May 26, 2010 - 3:19 am

    There are different kinds of public speaking…

    As a keynote speaker you’ll do all of the speaking and all of the above tips are useful. What I’d add is that “keeping your vocals moist” should be done with room temperature water, not with ice-water.

    Keynotes are usually 20 minutes to an hour… ocasionally up to 2-hours. Whenever your keynote is on the lengthier side, involve the audience: ask questions several times throughout your presentation – involve the audience – let several people answer… all this giving your voice a chance to rest.

    I present 90+% workshops, and as such I provide my audience members plenty of interractive activities – both group activities and individual activities. I often present full-day and even 2-day workshops and I grew to think of myself more as a facilitator than a presenter… which ensures that my voice gets plenty of rest – a big difference from the time when I started, when I spoke throughout my presentations and I’d lose my voice by the end of the day, each time…

    • #3 by Linda Kundell on June 16, 2010 - 7:23 pm

      Thank you for your comments. The point about room temperature water is particularly well taken. Although some people are okay with ice water, room temperature is generally a safer bet.

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