A lawyer has your briefs and your arguments. A basketball player needs a basketball and a plumber uses a snake to clean a drain. What do these professionals (who are paid a lot of money) have in common? Without a specific tool, they cannot do their job properly. Also, if that tool is not in optimal working order, your job will become more difficult, if not impossible, to perform!
Well guess what? If a public speaker wants to make an impact on his audience, the only tool he absolutely needs to protect is his voice. Doing so will allow you to effortlessly do your job so your audience can enjoy your message and content.
Before working as a professional speaker and comedian, I trained as a professional actor. I did lots and lots of stage work that allowed me to speak on stage and be fully heard (without straining) in the back row of the theater / auditorium.
I accomplished this with hours of voice training and proper use of my voice using my diaphragm.
You see, your larynx is a muscle, and just like any other part of your body, if you abuse it, you will lose it! And if you don’t take care of your body and don’t get enough sleep or are fatigued, I guarantee it, as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, your voice will be the first to disappear. ! Hello, laryngitis!
Your body and voice must be operating in peak performance mode for your inspirational message and content to ring loud and clear like a bell.
Don’t rely on the sound system to help you if your voice is harsh, painful, or withered from fatigue.
The result will be a harsh voice that is NOW louder for your audience and more annoying to listen to. Remember: if your voice fails, you are lost! Also, apologizing to your audience every few minutes won’t help with the matter. Do not care. They want a speaker that EVERYONE can enjoy now!
What to drink to protect your voice
Yes, drinking is very important. Of course, we are talking about drinking the proper fluids that are NOT alcoholic. Working professionals know that alcohol is a clear no-no before preparing to speak in front of an enthusiastic audience.
I can’t tell you how many times a night before doing a corporate show, a client or an attendee has offered me a cocktail before jumping on the platform.
I always rejected it and I hope you do the same. You see, not only will alcohol dry out your throat, but the combination of drinking it and talking to a crowd is fraught with dangers.
Try this on to see the size. You could forget what you wanted to say; You could stumble offstage and into the audience. Landing off the platform and onto the lap of an audience member is NOT how you want to be remembered, is it? And imagine what the evaluation forms will say.
“The speaker was pretty decent until she tripped off the platform and landed on me breaking my collarbone! I’d enjoy hearing her again when she’s sober and I’m healed!”
Again, do yourself a favor: drink alcohol AFTER your presentation during your free time at the hotel bar.
That said, you should do everything you can to lubricate your voice so that phlegm doesn’t reap its ugly head. The best to drink is plain water. In fact, you should drink plenty of water (hydrate as they say) the day BEFORE you are scheduled to speak.
Doing this will moisten your vocal cords, not to mention your entire body (which is always a good idea anyway). Then, during your speech, have a cup of room temperature water next to you on the lectern and sip from time to time. .
Another big no-no is staying away from sodas and other carbonated beverages right before they are presented. If you want to protect your voice, remember to stay away from carbonation, especially if you DO NOT want to burp or lightly burp on stage. Imagine the embarrassment when you burp a word or two in the middle of your talk!
If water isn’t your thing, try drinking something naturally sweet, like orange or grapefruit juice. They are astringent and can help clear any congestion from your vocal cords. Again, doing this will allow you to NOT have to clear your throat after every other sentence!
Pamper your voice like a baby!
Just as you wouldn’t send your toddler out into the cold without a sweater and scarf, do the same with your voice when speaking.
Protect your voice by wrapping a winter scarf around your neck in winter. Wear turtleneck sweaters and shirts (in season, of course). Wisely, do what you have to do to keep your voice warm and welcoming.
Don’t go too far by wrapping a wool scarf around your neck in mid-July. Sure, other speakers may know that you are protecting your voice. BUT some people might think you are crazy and could possibly alert the authorities. (And no, that never happened to me!)
There is more you can do
Does the word “tension” evoke feelings of pain or tension? Well, your voice thinks so! Common sense dictates that a microphone should always be used when speaking to an audience. Certainly if you are in an intimate setting, say less than fifty people, you may not want to. But only do it if you can project your voice correctly to your listeners without damaging it.
Besides having trained as an actor, I also trained earlier in my life as a singer. And since it was, I always want to keep my voice lithe by singing scales and doing certain vocal exercises.
If I’m traveling (and I usually do it when I make a presentation), I make my stopovers in my hotel room (preferably in the shower). My public speaking program has certain voice exercises for you to use that can help give your voice more timbre, vocal range, and flexibility.
Remember: just as an athlete stretches the arms and leg quadriceps for flexibility, the speaker must flex his voice to get the job done.
Be wise: If there is a break during the day before you have to speak, protect your voice by taking that time to be alone.
Do your best not to talk to anyone. Explain to your host or client that you are not being antisocial; you are only saving your voice for the time you are scheduled to speak. (Hopefully they will understand and walk away so that you are alone!)
Once again, it bears repeating: before starting your speech, find a quiet area (preferably your hotel bathroom) and warm up your voice. Do this in the same way that you would warm up your muscles before going for a jog or any type of exercise you like to do.
Don’t worry if some people can hear you doing those strange vocal exercises to continually protect your most important asset – your voice!