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Taking Care of Your Voice

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If the majority of your revenue comes from doing seminars, your voice is your most important “tool.” Many people do things that cause their instrument harm.

I had a colleague at CareerTrack named Roger Burgraff. Roger is a speech expert. He knows a lot about the physical mechanics of the voice. Roger always made some very important points about the “care and feeding” of a speaker’s voice.

Here are some of the highlights about what he had to say:

First, never yell. It is incredibly damaging to your vocal chords. If you’re tempted to go to a sporting event where you know you’ll get riled up, stay home!

Second, when you’re not speaking, keep your mouth shut. Don’t sing in the car or talk on the phone. Give your vocal chords a chance to rest.

Third, drink room-temperature (decidedly not ice-cold) water while you speak. Just like a car needs oil, your voice needs water to be properly lubricated. I always squeeze a lemon or two into a large carafe of water. As far as I know, the lemon itself did no harm or good, it just made it easier for me to suck down all the water. At a one-day seminar I might go through a gallon of water. (Yes, that leads to lots of breaks designed to let me run to the bathroom. But your audience likes breaks; we’ll talk about that later.)

Fourth, never drink anything containing caffeine. It’s bad for your throat and voice.

Fifth, watch out for dairy products. They tend to create mucus, not a good thing to be “hacking up” in front of your audience. Some people can get away with it. Check to see how milk and other products react with your own voice. 

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