By Ellen Dunnigan, CEO of Accent On Business and NAWBO-Indianapolis member
Do you regularly use your voice at work? If your voice tires frequently, or you’re experiencing seasonal laryngitis, here are some tips for keeping your voice in tip-top shape:
- Keep yourself hydrated. Eat “wet foods” during the day, such as soups and fruits, and sip water while speaking.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking (or secondhand smoke), which dry out the vocal cords and surrounding tissue.
- Sip water or suck on small ice chips all day.
- Avoid dairy products, oily foods and mayonnaise during lunch if you will be speaking after lunch. These make you feel as if you need to clear your throat, which strains your vocal cords.
- Rest your voice and use it less if you feel that it is starting to sound hoarse. If your voice feels tired, be quiet and try not to talk for the rest of the day. Whispering doesn’t help, as it stresses all the muscles around your vocal cords. Staying quiet is our best advice.
- Avoid cough drops and mints, as they irritate the vocal cords. Cough drops contain alcohols and menthols that dry your vocal cords. Instead, try lemon drops (hard candy) or ice chips.
- Inhale steam from a facial steamer (purchase this from your local pharmacy), a tea kettle or while in the shower. Inhale slowly through your nose. Singers and speakers use facial steamers daily as a preventative measure. You could, too.
- Try a personal vaporizer at night while you sleep for added humidity during cold winter nights. If you continue to experience difficulty, seek help early from a voice or speech pathologist; don’t wait for chronic pain to develop. A voice evaluation can be a business lifesaver for many. Speaking techniques and vocal protection techniques can be taught that will conserve the voice and prevent long-term problems with your voice.