You may have noticed that yesterday (Wednesday 4th October) saw Theresa May fighting with a cough to deliver her Conservative Party Conference speech. Alongside voice struggles she was also handed a P45 by comedian Lee Nelson and several letters from her backdrop fell mid-speech. We can’t do much about security breaching TV personalities or runaway lettering but we can help with the vocal care!
The PM was passed a yellow lozenge by Chancellor Philip Hammond and her twitter account shared a range of throat remedies (including Vocalzone!) in a photo following the speech, but vocal care as an afterthought is too late.
BBC News published an article containing voice tips. Head & Neck surgeon Prof Neil Tolley of London’s St John and St Elizabeth Hospitals told them “I would change my delivery technique by speaking more slowly to take tension out of my larynx [voice box], rather than trying to shout my way through a presentation. (…) In the House of Commons she’s got to overcome a wall of noise, and that can be particularly challenging.”
Breathe With Me
Breathe properly using your whole chest – not just the upper part of it – in order to support the voice. Our bodies like a six-cylinder car, so if you only use the upper chest to breathe it’s like running on three cylinders and putting unnecessary strain on the body.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
You should always drink plenty of water to keep the vocal cords lubricated. Have a water bottle on you at all times or at least drink one glass every mealtime and at least one in between.
Try To Relax
Relax, relax, and relax! Tension tightens the voice and makes it harder to talk. Keep your posture low and easy, your face and jaw relaxed. Try and stretch your upper body regularly. Massage your neck on either side of your voice box. Also yawning and sighing before speaking opens the voice and relieves stress.
Speak Slowly & Pause When You Need To
Resting your voice when possible during a speech gives it time to recover and talking too quickly can strain it.
Try Not To Cough Too Much
Coughing or clearing your throat too much causes vocal fatigue and can damage your vocal folds. Try sipping water, sucking a cough sweet or try Vocalzone instead!
Pause During Background Noise
Trying to project your voice over intense background noise strains it and makes for a poor listening experience. Take a breather and wait for the sound to pass before resuming your speech.
Think About When You Eat
Eating late at night can allow stomach acid to spill into your larynx causing hoarseness. Watch out for any pain or hoarseness, they may signal a voice problem. Always consult with your doctor or voice coach if you feel you may have a problem.
Avoid Alcohol & Smoking
Smoking is a major cause of vocal cord damage. Alcohol is an irritant too which should also be avoided as much as possible.
Think About Pitch
Adopt a lower or higher than natural pitch in order to sound authoritative or emphatic. If you make the sound of agreement “mm” mm’, (I know you’re making that sound – aren’t you?!), the second “mm” (and again…) is likely to be close to your optimum pitch.
Monitor Your Voice
Don’t ignore any warning signs – Monitor you voice! Don’t shout when you don’t have to; vocal cords already collide with each other more than a million times a day. If you have a high stress job which requires lots of public speaking like the PM you must always be mindful of looking after your voice.
If you haven’t already, give Vocalzone Throat Pastilles a go! It is specially formulated for voice care and is designed specifically to relieve throat irritation or dryness which may occur if you have been singing, speaking or smoking excessively. The pastilles should be used prior to a speech but can be used throughout and after in addition.