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Essential Speaking Skills
All about the art of public speaking.

Be good to your vocal cords

Last night I had a nightmare. I dreamt that I lost my voice! Yikkkeeeess. No matter how hard I tried to make a sound, nothing came out. Not even a whimper. Guess that is the speaker’s greatest fear after they conquered their fear of public speaking. How unfair! Anyway I woke up to my relief when I found out that I just had an itchy throat. (phew!) Nonetheless, to play safe, I went online and researched on how we should protect our vocal cords (aka voice) Here’s a list of practical pointers I found online that will save your voice for more meaningful purposes. Gossips don’t count…

1. Limit your intake of drinks that include alcohol or caffeine. These act as diuretics (substances that increase urination) and cause the body to lose water. This loss of fluids dries out the voice. Alcohol also irritates the mucous membranes that line the throat.

2. Drink plenty of room-temperature water. Six to eight glasses a day is recommended. On the actual day, avoid drinking ice-cold water. Room temperature water is recommended.

3. Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. Cancer of the vocal cords is seen most often in individuals who smoke.

4. Practice good breathing techniques when singing or talking. It is important to support your voice with deep breaths from the diaphragm, the wall that separates your chest and abdomen. Singers and speakers are often taught exercises that improve this breath control. Talking from the throat, without supporting breath, puts a great strain on the voice.

5. Avoid eating spicy foods. Spicy foods can cause stomach acid to move into the throat or esophagus (reflux). Unfortunately that’s the hardest to do esp. in Singapore!!! We have laksa, curry fishhead, curry chicken, tom yam soup… gosh!

6. Avoid clearing your throat. If you feel a tickle in your throat or the need to clear your throat, cough gently and lightly.

7. Don’t overuse your voice. This is especially important for people who earn a living through speaking. For example, teachers, lecturers, speakers, trainers… eh politicians maybe? Try not to yell while at sports events. Limit talking if you have to raise your voice to be heard. Enjoy thrill rides quietly. (HUH?!) Avoid speaking or singing when your voice is hoarse. Best to keep your mouth shut. Don’t sing or talk on the phone.

8. Include plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. These foods contain vitamins A, E, and C. They also help keep the mucus membranes that line the throat healthy.

9. Exercise regularly. Exercise increases stamina and muscle tone. This helps provide good posture and breathing, which are necessary for proper speaking.

10. Get enough rest. Physical fatigue has a negative effect on voice. Ensure that you have at least 7 hours of rest on the eve of your presentation.

Remember, be good to your vocal cords else don’t make any sound if you lose them. Yes, pun intended!

“Be good to your vocal cords”