how to save your voice

image credit: Shutterstock/ @9nong

According to the Human Footprint, a Nick Watt’s documentary from 2007, the average person speaks 4,300 words a day. We use our voice more often than we realize and it is easy to forget to take care of  what seems to be our most valuable tool.

As a speech-language pathologist I specialize in the assessment and treatment of various communication disorders, including voice disorders. When I work with my  clients, I always impress the importance of vocal hygiene upon them.

Vocal hygiene sounds impressive, and a lot of work, but it’s simply taking good care of your voice.

I advocate for good vocal hygiene because most of us are required to talk a lot throughout the day, and the quality of our voice and ability to speak is important to our jobs. This is especially true for those who are professionals like teachers, lawyers, singers, and yes, speech pathologists.

Here are three very simple tips on how to take care of your voice:

  1. Drink Water. The first step to practicing good vocal hygiene is to drink water. It sounds simple doesn’t it but drinking water throughout the day is one of the best things you can do to moisten and hydrate your oral cavity. I recommend carrying a bottle of water with you at all times so you remember to take a sip every now and then.
  2. Royal cough. Coughing is natural reflex but it also causing a lot of strain and can potentially damage your vocal cords if you cough too often. So what should you do when you feel an itch in your throat? Practice the royal cough! The royal cough is a gentle method to resist the urge to cough uncontrollably. Imagine yourself as the Queen and cough how she would cough.
  3. Vocal rest. If your work requires you to use your voice often, it is important for you to take mini-breaks throughout the day to rest your voice.  It is exactly what it sounds—resting your voice means refraining from talking as much as possible. If you need to still use your voice, consider whispering as this puts less strain on your vocal cords than when you are talking in a loud voice.