KOCHI: Human voice is one of the most priceless evolutionary gifts given to us. Though we don’t realise it, consciously and unconsciously, we are quite often judged by the quality of our voice.
Many times we often hear conversations go, “He/ She was really making a good impression until he/she spoke.” Harsh, but true. The simple fact is that we are constantly judged by how we speak and not merely what we speak.
Anatomically speaking, the voice is generated by the vibration of two delicate structures called Vocal Cords, sitting in our airway, which follows specific vibratory patterns when we breathe out (exhale) to generate what we know as our “Voice”. Our unique voice is a combination of the qualities of our vocal cords as well as other parts of the oral cavity which contribute to the resonance of our voice.
‘Voice’ becomes most important to people who use it in their professional life. Professionals such as Singers, Radio Jockeys, Teachers/ Lecturers Lawyers, Politicians and Religious leaders, Trainers/Instructors at Institutions.Voice becomes a strong component of their very identity besides being a professional vehicle of self-projection.
The quality of our voice is a delicate balance between our breathing, our diction and the resonance of the oral cavity. The ideal balance of these three factors is what a qualified speech language pathologist/therapist can help us identify, which in turn can help us reach an optimum projection of our voice with the least amount of effort.
Many a time, due to the inappropriate balance of these critical components while projecting our voice, professionals tend to complain of voice issues that haunt them throughout their professional life such as Loss of voice for prolonged periods Strain while speaking Change in quality of voice and so on Lack of depth in the Voice. It is important that such professionals approach the right personnel for the right care for their voice in the form of voice therapy from a qualified speech-language pathologist/therapist
How do you know when your voice is not healthy?
- Has your voice become hoarse or harsh? Unpleasant to the listener
- Has your voice lost the ability to hit a high note while singing?
- Does your voice suddenly appear unnaturally deeper?
- Does your throat feel raw? Achy or strained?
- Do you find yourself repeatedly clearing your throat?
But before your voice deteriorates to the point of requiring professional help. Here are a few do’s and don’ts that can be followed to help protect our voice.
- Aim to drink at least 7 to 9 glasses daily. This in turn keeps your voice smooth and vocal cords (voice box) working smoothly.
- Maintain the humidity of the environment you speak in. A very dry environment dries out the voice box which in turn dries out the vocal cords.
- Use a mic whenever possible when addressing a large gathering.
- Use a voice range appropriate to your voice range. A good speech-language therapist can help you determine that.
- Practice good breathing techniques while singing or talking.
- Use voice judiciously.
- Give the voice time to rest, such as breaks for at least 5 mins after every 45 mins of talking continuously.
- A cough or Clear your throat often.
- Breathe through your mouth.
- Smoke. The chemicals harm your vocal cords.
- Eat a lot of spicy food as it affects the stomach and causes acid reflux which
affects the voice in the long run.
- Do vocal mimicry without proper training for long durations.
- Use products or medicines that dry the throat or mouth. Some mouthwashes and
medicines for allergy can dry up the mouth and throat.
- Scream / Yell- As much as possible speak in a comfortable volume with a correct projection which a qualified speech-language therapist can help you achieve.
- Whisper- this is a vocal habit that is worse than screaming or yelling.
- Yell to get someone’s attention. If required, go to them to speak.
Instead, let us help our voices function to their full and optimum capacity.
Ceana Mariya Paul
Speech Language Pathologist/ Therapist, Hestia Hospital, Palarivattom