We can spend all the time in the world talking about how to prepare better presentations, capture and hold your audience’s attention, create great PowerPoint slides, etc. and it will all be for naught if we forget to talk about one very important thing: your voice. I don’t know about you guys, but I really don’t spend very much time thinking about my voice – until it’s not there!
So if everything is going along fine, then you don’t really need to worry about your voice. However, if you have a big presentation coming up, that’s when things can start to get bad in a hurry. You pick the cause: weather changes, allergies, a cold or flu, no matter the cause – the results are always the same. If there is something wrong with your voice, then that’s what your audience is going to be focusing on – not what you are saying!
We all have ways of dealing with sore body parts that we can get to like an arm or a leg. How does one go about taking care of a voice that is located “in there” somewhere? It turns out that it really comes down to a list of things that you SHOULD be doing as well as another list of things that you SHOULD NOT be doing. Let’s take a look…
Fluids, fluids, fluids. In the end, having a healthy / happy voice requires that you keep your vocal cords supple. Ways to do this include drinking fluids such as sports drinks which replenish sugars, sodium and lots of other nutrients.
Of course, there is a flip side to this – you need to stop drinking some things. You can say goodbye to coffee as your presentation date / time grows nearer. Oh, the same thing goes for alcohol in any form. The reason that you have to avoid these fluids is because they act as a drying agent and that’s the last thing that your vocal cords need.
How do you start your day? I personally enjoy having a glass of orange juice. However, it turns out that orange juice has the potential to irritate your throat. Dang! The OJ has to go on presentation day.
If you start to come down with something as your big presentation day approaches, there are some defensive activities that you can start to do. Adding a humidifier to your bedroom will help to lubricate your throat while you are sleeping. Additionally, you can spend some time in a steamy shower in order to sooth your entire respiratory system.
Once you get your fluids taken care of, you need to make sure that you don’t screw things up now. This means that you need to avoid clearing your throat because this will end up irritating your vocal cords.
If you feel yourself starting to become hoarse there are a couple of things that you can do. Try to gargle with warm salt water a few times during the day. Additionally, you should start to drink herbal tea with honey in order to fight back the hoarseness.
Be very careful about doing what we all normally do: popping a throat lozenges that contains menthol or some other anesthetics. The reason that these are so bad for you is that they numb your throat and this will hide your body’s warning signs that it’s time to stop using your voice.
One final recommendation: during your actual presentation you should do your best to keep your tone at a conversational volume level. By doing this you will be able to avoid overexerting your vocal cords.
Have you ever been in danger of losing your voice just before you were to give a big presentation? What did you do to save your voice? Did it work? How did you sound when you gave the presentation? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.