Is your voice vital to your work?
Here’s how to keep it in tip-top condition.
If your voice is key to your professional performance, you’ll need to keep it in peak condition. A surprisingly wide range of professionals rely on their voice in their day-to-day roles. Voice Over Artists and actors, obviously. Teachers, coaches and public speakers, also fairly obviously. But perhaps less obviously; any professional involved with delivering pitches, presentations or high-level meetings.
In the case of a Voice Over Artist, actor or singer, their voice is their instrument. It stands to reason that like any instrument, it must be tuned, conditioned and cared for.
For other business professionals however, their voices also have huge potential. To engage an audience. Influence colleagues, clients or prospects. Show leadership. Motivate and inspire.
As an Actor and Voice Over Artist, my career depends on my vocals. It’s in my professional interest to invest in my voice; through researching every product, every technique and every health tip going, to keep my voice powerful, adaptable and crystal clear.
Top five tips to achieving a healthy, high performing, robust voice.
1. Healthy body equals healthy voice. I’m not just talking about the avoidance of coughs, sore throats and laryngitis here – although that certainly helps. Of course, all of us will succumb to these from time to time. But generally looking after your health will have an impact on your voice. A good diet, exercise, staying hydrated and getting plenty of sleep, will all ensure your voice has every opportunity to perform at its best.
If you are unlucky enough to get hit by a cold or suffer from regular sinus problems, you may want to try the Netipot. This clever little gadget helps flush out the nasal passages and clear the sinuses, returning your vocals to their full potential.
2. How l’eau can you go? I can’t emphasise this enough; staying hydrated (even if you don’t feel thirsty), is essential. When you’ve been speaking for a while, particularly if at a higher than natural volume, it’s very easy for your voice to dry up. Drink before you speak and as much as is practical during. Oh – and that’s water by the way, not alcohol. Alcohol and vocal performance do not mix. While we’re on the subject of drinks, you’ll also want to avoid milk or drinks high in fat. It can thicken the phlem (sorry), inhibiting clarity and quality.
3. Push pineapple shake the tree. More than just a questionable 80s song lyric; I, like other voice professionals, will be pushing the pineapple. It has anti-inflammatory qualities, prevents phlem and soothes the throat. So, the good news is (if you like pineapple), pineapple juice or fresh pineapple consumed before your performance is great news for your vocals. Feeling fruity? The humble apple is also the Voice Over Artist’s friend; especially Granny Smiths. The apple cuts through mucus and manages the saliva, removing dreaded smacking and clicking sounds while keeping the mouth hydrated. For an alternative for soothing the throat and yes you guessed it – reducing mucus – lemon and ginger is yet another fruity beverage with benefits.
4. Want a clear voice? Clear your mind. Approaching any kind of work with a negative, cross or anxious mindset will negatively impact on your performance. But when it comes to your voice doing much of the work, the impact is multiplied. Try getting into a comedy script or animated child’s character when you’ve just had a row with your partner. Or delivering a rousing, motivational talk when you’ve had a thoroughly shocking day in the office. Frankly you’d have to be an Oscar winner to not let negative thoughts creep into your performance.
However, these stresses are a fact of life. So, if you’re feeling that way; get some fresh air. Do some exercise. Find a meditation, mind clearing and breathing technique that works for you. Some people find doing yoga or pilates enables them to manage their emotions and stress more effectively. Finally, give yourself space and time before your voice performance to get your mind into a neutral place; so that your only focus is your ‘character’ and your audience.
5. Stand and deliver. For your voice to have impact, you need to come from a position of strength. The effect of your posture on vocal performance should not be underestimated. But as well as maintaining good posture, you need to be in a position that’s comfortable for you. If you’re a Voice Over Artist this may mean investing in a high-quality chair so your back is supported. If you’re doing a lot of standing, you may find strengthening your core through pilates or yoga hugely beneficial.
The voice of experience
Take it from someone who knows; looking after your vocal chords properly really does require a holistic approach. Your mind and your body need to be looked after, as both will impact on your vocal performance.
Posy Brewer is a Voice Over Artist and Actor with over 17 years of experience. She is based in Guildford where she has a broadcast professional studio with ISDN, Source Connect Pro, SCNow and Skype facilities. Clients include – BBC, Lego, Cadbury, Next, Disney, Morrisons, Sky, Arla, Barclays, Fisher Price, John Lewis and many many more…
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