Let's address the elephants in the room. Masks and social distancing. Masks are not going away. But neither are speaking demands. In fact, now we have to speak through a mask. We have to project our voice and be heard through a mask, possibly also through a face shield or plexiglass, an N95, across 6 feet, or across a classroom spread out. Let's talk about some strategies to help speak with a mask. Not to mention continued increase in phone and virtual meeting duties.
· Webinars for Voice Technique Demonstration: Dysphonia.org/nsda-webinars (scroll down to Part I and Part II of Voice Techniques)
· YouTube Channel for discussion and demonstration of voice tips and techniques: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCihgqcKLx9iyQzh3iy1fzJw?view_as=subscriber
Voice Technique Tips
· Less effort is more when it comes to voicing!
· Avoid straining your throat when speaking or projecting
· Speak with more airflow and increased forward focus of the voice to lips and tongue (see webinar for details on flow phonation and resonant voice production)
· Perform resonant hums frequently, feeling a strong buzz in your lips without throat effort
· Use a straw to get that same buzzy easy feeling or use the straw technique in some water!
· Try voice techniques to “warm up” the voice and to “reset” your voice throughout the day. Do resonant hums or straw phonation in between calls, teaching sessions, or conversations!
· Give yourself mini “breaks” between conversations and spread speaking duties out throughout the day if possible
· Always work with a speech language pathologist (specialized voice therapist) for techniques
· Engage in relaxation techniques and exercises for destressing and calming not only the mind, but decreasing tension in the body
· Practice voice techniques frequently and in conversation to make them more automatic and to translate to conversation
For Virtual Communication or Phone Calls
Use speaker phone and headphones with an input microphone
One headphone in the ear can help modulate volume
Use wireless headphones if moving and projecting (i.e. Apple Air Pods)
Project with more buzz/forward focus of your sounds and NOT with effort in your throat
For Speaking with Masks or Through a Barrier
· Use crisp/clear articulation strategies (demonstrated on YouTube video)
· Obtain amplifier, particularly if you’re any sort of instructor/teacher
· “Reset” with straw phonation or resonant hums (see YouTube channel)
· Obtain mask with clear front cut out or a mask that explains that you have a voice disorder and are not sick here
Be easy with yourself! Dealing with voice challenges can be very difficult. Celebrate the small wins, maintain perspective, and appreciate when or in what ways you still can communicate or express yourself (even if in different ways)
Be patient with these techniques. Benefit and gains are a process and can happen with frequent practice and through building awareness of your voice
Always work with a speech language pathologist/specialized voice therapist when doing these techniques or engaging in any voice work
These techniques are not designed to strengthen anything and are not “exercises” but techniques. They establish more efficient voice patterns and ways of compensating
Acknowledge that dealing with a voice disorder or voice difficulties is hard! Recognize that your feelings about your voice are valid no matter what those are!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask any questions or contact to set up a free virtual consultation if you feel any vocal symptoms or to get tools to maintain a healthy voice!