‘Tis the season of parties, gifts, friends and family, baking, meaningful traditions, and more. ‘Tis also the season of cold air, holiday drinks, singing, and sickness—all of which can wreck your voice. So over our next two blogs, we’ll be looking at vocal care during the season that can sometimes leave us, well, speechless.
Today, we’ll look at how to be proactive about caring for your voice, and next time, we’ll look at how to react to sickness and how to treat your voice once it becomes strained. As a speaker, you can’t do your job well if your voice is strained or sore. So here are 3 tips to keep your voice operating it’s best this holiday season.
Pay attention to what you are drinking and how that can affect your voice. Alcohol can dry out your vocal folds. And celebrity vocal coach Jeannie Deva tells us why that can be such a problem. She says, “the muscles and mucous membrane that compose your vocal folds require hydration to perform well. These vocal tissues make many small rapid motions and adjustments in order to produce the variety of sounds . . . Their flexibility and agility depend to no small degree upon their level of hydration.”
Also avoid drinks with lots of dairy—milk, eggnog, hot chocolate, and even coffee with lots of cream. Dairy causes the opposite problem as alcohol. Instead of drying out your vocal folds, it thickens the mucus in your vocal folds. While both alcohol and dairy-based drinks won’t render you speechless, they aren’t doing your voice any favors either.
You’ll also want to avoid drinks which are too cold or too hot. Drinks that are too cold can cause the muscles in your throat and neck to shrink and tighten. On the other hand, heat causes them to expand and relax. Neither of these is an ideal vocal state for your voice. All in all, it’s best to stick with lukewarm or slightly cool water before you speak.
Winter air tends to be cold and dry. But why? According to this CBS Minnesota article and Meteorologist Chris Shaffer, it has to do with the laws of physics. Shaffer says, “The cooler the air is, the less its ability to hold water.” CBS Minnesota goes on to say, “what that means is that as the temperature drops outside, down goes the humidity inside our homes.”
Just like your lips and hands are drier in the winter, your vocal cords are too. In order to help balance the moisture deficiency in your home in the winter, consider using a humidifier. Recently experts at The Spruce rated the top humidifiers of 2019. You can see their list here. You might be surprised how much simply using a humidifier during the winter can help keep your voice ready for your next presentation.
It’s also important to remember that many of the things that we participate in around this time of year might strain your vocal cords. Here are just a few things that might do damage to your voice. Spending time outside in cold weather. Sitting around a fire. Singing or talking loud (thinking caroling and loud parties). It’s hard not to write these tips and feel like a Scrooge. We aren’t suggesting you speakers have to sit the season out. But if you have a big speaking engagement coming up, just be smart about protecting your voice ahead of time. Otherwise, enjoy the magic of the season!
Choose your pre-presentation drinks wisely, keep your vocal cords moist, and watch out for things that might strain your voice. Take care of yourself and your voice, so that when that big presentation comes, you’ll be ready to perform at your optimal level.
Need more tips on how to prepare and perform at your highest level? Get in touch with an expert at Ethos3 now.
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