Several people have asked me lately how to avoid hoarseness or voice loss at family gatherings, so I thought I’d share some tips for those who are prone to vocal fatigue or strain in festive situations.
Keep your vocal cords healthy
If you are entering into a potentially challenging vocal situation (lots of background noise, more talking than usual), be prepared. You will have a greater chance of coming out unscathed if your vocal fold tissue is healthy going in.
The vocal cords like to be well-hydrated — see my blog post Why you need to keep your voice moist (That’s right, I said “moist”!) for more specific advice. Hydrating systemically and topically about 2 days in advance of an event can be helpful.
A second consideration for vocal cord health is acid reflux. See my post Is acid reflux secretly messing with your voice? for more detailed information. More food, richer food, eating closer to bedtime are all things that can potentially cause stomach acid to irritate your vocal cords, which can reduce the amount of time you can talk with ease and clarity.
Quality is often more important than quantity
The way you use your voice is often even more relevant than how much you use it. You can talk for longer with efficient technique than you can with technique that causes the vocal cords to get irritated.
My post Three tips for a more powerful voice has some quick suggestions, as do several of my blog posts. Check out Five things you forgot from your acting voice training (even if you never had acting voice training!), and Don’t let your mask stop you from being heard!
Be mindful of how you are speaking, and if you start to notice strain or hoarseness, it’s time for a break. To that end…:
Use your “vocal bank account” wisely
You have a finite amount of voice use available before your vocal cords get irritated. This amount (the balance in your account) varies by person, and according to other factors (such as hydration and vocal technique). It is up to you how you choose to spend that time.
So maybe consider scheduling a long phone date for a different day than the big party. Or excuse yourself for a few minutes to step away from the activity and reset. Learning your own limits may take some trial and error, but is a valuable endeavor.
If you’d like some personalized suggestions for keeping your voice strong and healthy, reach out for a session!