Voice Synergy News

Presenting online

How to look after your voice

Are you struggling after months and months of online Zoom and Team meetings? Are you preparing yet more online presentations and delivering strategic plans to staff, colleagues and stakeholders? Do you get an overwhelming impulse sometimes, to just run away?!

Without the old visual feedback which comes through your audience’s attentive body language or a puzzled or interested face, it is an ongoing challenge to gauge how your presentation is going.

You may be tempted to project your voice more, yet think if you speak too loudly it will be wrong and end up with a conflict of muscle activity in your neck and larynx. This can result in antagonistic behaviour, where muscles are being held to do a job that’s not necessary, at the same time as other muscles – which are necessary – are also being pushed to perform.

The outcome of this is at best tired muscles around your larynx, jaw and voice and at worse, strained vocal folds (or vocal chords) which can make your voice sound hoarse and ‘thin’.

You can avoid a tired, strained voice and here are some tips to help you plan how to get the most out of your online presentation:

  1. Prepare thoroughly. Ensure you know your material and have it ready in a logical and accessible format.
  2. Know your audience as much as you can. What do they want to get out of your presentation? Ensure you are addressing their concerns or meeting their attendance objectives.
  3. Now to your voice.
    • Warm up your voice by breathing in, deep down into the bottom of your lungs and hum the air out, slowly, on one note. Repeat this exercise five times on different (low-ish) notes.
    • Breathe in deeply and slowly and this time hum out using your voice like a siren. The notes of your hum should gently rise and fall, like a series of gently arching bridges. Once your lungs are feeling empty, stop humming, breathe in again and repeat the exercise four more times.
    • Breathe in to the bottom of your lungs again and halfway through your humming out, allow your jaw to drop and the sound ‘aahhhhh’ to come out. No effort, no pushing, no tension in your neck or anywhere… just the air passing over your vocal folds and gently warming up your voice. Repeat this exercise four more times and relax.
  4. Begin your presentation with a smile, if appropriate. Acknowledge and welcome your audience, tell them what to expect and how long you will be speaking for.
  5. Rehearse your opening and closing sentences.

Always have a glass of water to hand and ensure you are well-hydrated before you begin to speak. Take sips of water throughout your presentation to keep your vocal folds hydrated and moving smoothly.

As you make your presentation, remember to be yourself. Be present and be engaged with what you are saying and your voice will carry the sincerity of your words.

There are many, many aspects to speaking well during an online presentation in addition to the points I have raised above, including clarity, pace and vocal variety.

Your posture is important too. Ensure you have a good, supportive chair or if you’re standing, check your posture is aligned and relaxed. If you are relaxed, your voice will be relaxed.

If you are experiencing vocal fatigue, exhaustion or just feel a bit jaded about your online presentation skills, please get in touch. So don’t run away! I can help you develop a very effective toolkit to bring out your best voice for your Zoom and Team calls.

Are you treated differently because of your accent?

Voice Synergy, accent softening, elocution, public speaking, presentation skills, accent confidence, effective communication, accent coach, voice coach, voice coaching, accent coaching, voice coach Bath, elocution lessons Bath, speech lessons Bath, vocal confidence, stop mumbling, speak clearly, speak too fast, speak in monotone

This week on BBC Radio 4, this question was posed to its listeners. It is topical at the moment as we are hearing many Olympic event commentators with UK regional accents speaking on TV and radio.

I listened to this programme, presented by Winifred Robinson, with great interest. Issues that arose included people who had taken elocution classes, or voice training classes to change their accent and people who resisted change.

Some people wanted to lose their original accent as they felt it held them back professionally and others held on to their accent and said they had experienced success in the workplace in spite of their accent.

Some people with ‘posh’ accents, acquired through elocution lessons, felt they no longer ‘fitted’ in their original social groups and felt displaced and judged to be a wealthy person, because they spoke in the way a well-educated, well-heeled person would do. There was a barrister with a strong regional accent who was very content to continue advising and representing his clients in his native accent.

So, is it all to do with accent, or is there more at play here?

It’s all about better speech and better communication
At Voice Synergy, we tackle more than accent even if a client requests elocution lessons, for example. Your voice potential consists of a lot more than just your accent.

How you use your voice and the words you choose can be extremely powerful, regardless of accent. The successful speaker will be able to articulate accurately, sounding ‘t, d, th’ and ‘ing’ clearly, but will also use their voice in a way that effectively conveys their thoughts and ambition. In short, it’s not about getting rid of an accent, it’s all about better speech and better communication.

Your voice is important
It is well known that people seek help to communicate more effectively and that includes actors, business professionals, academics and politicians as well as those of us who simply want to get our voice heard. Your voice is important in interviews, in meetings, on Zoom or Team calls and in motivating staff or delivering reports.

So this begs the question, is accent softening only about accent changes or are we seeking a better speaking voice?

It is important to be the best communicator that you can be and that should be included in your accent softening, elocution lessons, public speaking classes, presentation skills course or effective communication projects.

Do I want to be a better communicator?
Currently, you may speak too slowly or speak too fast. Right now, you might suffer from a monotonous voice and want to learn how to speak with a more interesting voice, regardless of accent. The first thing that comes to mind when you are reflecting on your voice might be that you want to change your accent. Perhaps a better question would be, do I want to be a better communicator?

It is important not only to work on clearer articulation (stop mumbling) but think about the quality of your communication.

The aim of every good speaker must be to improve the quality of their communication, and that includes broadening their vocabulary, confidently articulating what they want to say and landing those thoughts to affect their listeners in the way they intend.

For more information about improving your speech skills, please get in touch.

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme.

Voice and Personality Types

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Over the years I have noticed that in different work meetings, I behave differently and use my voice differently according to the composition of the group. Talking to a group of accountants requires a different style as they speak and behave differently from a group of barristers, for example. Both groups require a specific style of delivery of information and they in turn express themselves differently from say, a group of estate agents.

That set me wondering about personality types in broad terms and how we use our voice, depending on what sort of personality type we are and how we can adapt to communicate better with other personality types.

If you use your voice in your usual, habitual way – your ‘everyday voice’, others may not ‘buy-in’ to your way of thinking, particularly if they belong to a different personality group.

In a work meeting in-person or online, attendees can have diverse communication styles and respond more positively to someone who speaks in a similar style to themselves.

According to one personality type model, people generally fall into four broad groups. Personality types include: Analyst, Communicator, Driver and Planner and each type uses their voice in a different style and requires different information to motive them.

The Analyst might use their voice to request more information, they will ask for data, documents and detail and process the information with careful scrutiny. They are likely to be factual and procedural in their communications, both written and spoken.

The Communicator is a different kettle of fish, being keen to share ideas and opinions, build relationships and thrives in a positive environment. Their spoken style is outgoing and friendly and veers towards the more informal – possibly using texts, emojis and voice messages to communicate outside the meeting room when face-to-face isn’t possible.

The Driver is assertive, ambitious and competitive, with a direct communication style. This person wants results. Driver personality types are usually in a powerful position and expect efficient and responsive communication from those around them. They use decisive language and may speak in shorter sentences in an assertive tone of voice.

The Planner is a patient, steady person who is usually calm and easy to get on with. This personality type appreciates the opportunity to be heard and to be supported in an unpressured environment. Time is a precious commodity and to the Planner, it is an essential component of their work in order to organise themselves well.

Any one of these personality types might speak in a way that is unsettling or alien to those in another group. The Analyst might frustrate the Communicator as they may use their voice in a composed, fact-led monologue, without the keen enthusiasm that the Communicator might prefer.

The Driver might be equally frustrated by the Planner, speaking at the slower pace, time scales being requested to complete a project. The short, sharp direct communication style of the Driver could result in the Planner compromising results instead of encouraging a dialogue for a better outcome.

There are many combinations of personality types that can throw up communication issues and it presents an opportunity to understand how we can use our voices to take into account the needs of others.

Using your voice and the words you select in a variety of ways might be the key. In a meeting that includes a mix of personality types, use your voice to address their diverse needs. You might speak using different vocal ranges, for example.

A calm, slower pace of speaking will appeal to the Planner and Analyst, for example, including details, evidence and timelines will also be appreciated and engender a positive response.

Speaking to a Driver, use your voice in a more powerful, energised and decisive way, pointing out succinctly, how results can be achieved.

Sometimes we are given some advice about how to use your voice in a meeting and it can be simply, ‘speak up, be assertive and use positive body language’ but without some professional input, this can be unhelpful at best.

Effective use of your vocal range, using the power of pause and varying your vocal patterns can be hugely influential. Your voice, coupled with carefully chosen words, can be used to change minds, to create support, to encourage others to adopt your vision. Your voice can be a powerful instrument for change.

Using your voice effectively, appreciating that others’ needs and speaking in the right way can reap very big rewards. It really is Voice Synergy.

For more information on how to use your voice to influence others, please get in touch.

Your voice – a sense of self

As a Voice Coach, I help many people to develop their speaking skills and requests come in regularly, asking for help with pronunciation, with confidence building or with clarity. Sometimes behind these requests lies a cry for help to become accepted into a work team or to be established as a team leader within a large organisation.

Our accent begins as soon as we begin to speak. We learn to speak from our parents, carers and teachers and build up speech patterns over the months and years. Children mimic what they hear and shape their articulators to replicate the sounds they hear.

Children can adopt the accent of their carers in pre-school, so they may sound quite different from their parents, but can easily adjust the sounds they make as the accent around them changes.

However, this skill can diminish over time and once that child leaves the familiar environment of home and school and embarks on a further education pathway, their accent might not ‘fit’ any more with the new social crowd they meet. At university, students from all over the world can meet up in a tutorial group (an online Zoom or Teams meeting currently) and for the first time encounter many accents different from their own.

Having an accent that is different from your peers can be quite a shock to begin with. Having an accent different from others can be isolating. Your accent very much represents your sense of self and to hear other people in your social group speaking in a different way can be disconcerting or even demoralising.

When this young adult goes out into the workplace, well-qualified with good prospects, often they can find it difficult ‘fitting in’ with their colleagues because their accent is not the same as the others.

When my new clients approach me in the first instance, they might ask about how to change their accent and it often transpires that behind this personal objective lies another hidden objective – ‘how can I fit in, speak like the others yet command respect as their manager through using my voice with authority?’

The voice work I offer to my clients covers accent change, of course, however, much of voice training or voice coaching focuses on developing accurate articulation, developing good posture and using the breath to underpin the voice. But there is more to voice coaching than changing your accent. Much of voice training with Voice Synergy comes from finding your sense of self, your values, your offer – what qualities and skills you represent.

Finding your sense of self through your voice allows you to become more comfortable. Being happy with the way you speak allows you to get on with the work you want to do. Avoiding accent change but finding the strength in yourself to speak with confidence, to speak with conviction and to speak with authority can be enormously freeing.

Some people ask for elocution lessons, however, it is the wider realm of vocal development that will help you really develop your sense of self. You can discover how to be more yourself and comfortable with the words and phrases you say. It can be incredibly empowering to release your voice to speak the words you want to say but have been too inhibited to express before.

Sometimes voice work is about finding out more about yourself and your own worth and when you begin to realise your own self and what you offer, your voice steps up to the mark and you really begin to sound like the person you want to be.

For more information on voice coaching or accent training, please get in touch.

Gasping with admiration or gently nodding off to sleep?

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Presentations – do you love them, or hate them? Either way, they’re an essential part of our lives as we connect with our colleagues or customers online and it’s our constant challenge to excite interest and attention through our speech.

If you’ve ever wished you could speak more clearly, with more passion in your voice or with gravitas and sincerity, you can get help at Voice Synergy.

I’ve noticed over the years that even people with very senior positions can let down their organisation and disappoint their stakeholders by not engaging their voice effectively. If you’re not engaged with what you’re saying, your words can sound empty and hollow. You might have heard someone saying, “Thank you to the whole team and especially to our sponsors who have provided the finance for this project.” If this is said as words only, it sounds heartless and purely a function of speech. Instead of cheering and heartening the audience, it can sound bland and mechanical.

Using your voice when it’s connected to your thoughts and most importantly, with your emotions, can be very powerful. Harnessing the power of your voice can be achieved when you engage your imagination and allow yourself to connect with what you’re saying.

It’s easy to trot out ‘thank-yous’ but if you take a moment to really think and mean those words, how differently they can sound. Your listeners can feel a warmth towards you and your organisation; your sincerity can be heard in your voice and the beginnings of loyalty can be ignited.

How can you begin to be connected with your words? Firstly, write down a few sentences that you would like to say to your team. Let’s start with the ‘thank you’ speech. After you have written it, record it as naturally as possible, as you would normally speak.

Now take a moment to read your sentences again and find the words that might really stand out and reach people. Next, breathe in slowly and deeply, feeling the air flow into your lungs. When your lungs are full, begin your speech. Take your time and read a whole sentence fluently. Take a new breath for each new sentence.

You can practise this reading aloud of your speech with great effect. Always take time to breathe before you speak. Begin speaking when your lungs are full and your breath will enable you to speak a long sentence comfortably.

Next, find one or two words that you would really like to bring out in your sentence. Repeat the above exercise, but this time pause just before the key word. You can try several different methods to emphasise a word, like pausing just before and/or just after it. You can try lifting or lowering your voice on that word. There are many ways of varying your speech patterns to make your speech more colourful and interesting.

By trying out some of these vocal techniques, you will begin to hear that your voice is gaining in expression. This should help you feel more confident and empowered to try more vocal variations in your speech.

When you’re happy that your expression has improved, try recording your voice again and compare the first recording with the second and notice the two styles. You should be aware of a positive difference in the before and after speech styles and be encouraged by how much more engaged your voice sounds after trying out new vocal techniques.

If you take time and practise working with your voice, it can help you to connect better with your colleagues, your team and your stakeholders.

If you would like help with developing a more connected and relaxed way of speaking, please get in touch.

The Professional Voice User

Debbie Chatting, Bath Radio, Somer Valley FM, voice coaching, broadcasting, voice training, accent coaching, presenting, better speaker, voice artist, sound authentic, Voice Synergy, Bath Voice Coach, leadership, excellent spoken communication, authority, professional voice user, voice coach, accent coach, presentation skills, radio broadcasting, voice over

As lockdown and Covid restrictions go into their second year, I have reflected on how the last year has been for me as a Voice and Accents Coach.

In the winter of 2020, I joined Bath Hospital Radio station with the intention of cheering up patients, getting requests and playing some of their favourite tunes live on air. With just a few weeks under my belt, we were in lockdown and no more opportunity to get in touch with Bath Radio listeners.

I continued to coach my clients by Zoom or Skype and became very busy with many people taking the opportunity to upgrade their speech skills whilst in lockdown. At the same time, I learned how to make short inspirational voice recordings for people’s well-being and sent those to Bath Radio. Over the weeks, I interviewed hospital staff and doctors about how they were coping with the pandemic and sent over these reports which were played on air to support NHS key workers as well as families of those in hospital.

Spring gave way to summer and as we were allowed back into the broadcasting studio in 2020, I asked our director if I could present a show of my own. I wanted to help people feel in touch with nature and help them with their sense with their well-being. This show is still on air. It’s called the Great Outdoors Show and each week I play music, tell a few jokes and most importantly, I interview two people about their role in the great outdoors. So far I’ve interviewed a light aircraft pilot, open water swimmers, communities creating better environments through tree planting, famers with low carbon footprints in the lambing sheds and out in the fields as the cows were calving and discovering new bridleways in the company of local foragers. I’m met chefs, volunteers on Duchy Farms, paddle board instructors, concert violinists who’ve played outdoors to cheer up the old folk, stuck at home or in care homes, I’ve chatted with artists, writers and naturalists with so much knowledge of the great outdoors. I’ve discovered things about peregrine falcons, hedgehogs, elderflowers, hawthorn hedges and earthworms that I never knew and I’ve passed these on to our listeners as the weeks passed.

The opportunity to have become a script writer for my own two-hour show, the researcher, interviewer and presenter has been absolutely fantastic. Each week, l come up with ideas for content to fill the structure I have created. I now present the show on two different radio stations – Somer Valley FM, as well as Bath Radio.

For you, this means what? It means that like you, I am actively engaged in a professional performance where I present to an audience. Like you, I am giving a live performance to a live audience and like you, my listeners judge me on my voice and the ability to generate interest in the subject matter I am presenting.

I can absolutely identify with the feelings you might have when you are preparing a presentation and the anxious thoughts that can develop. We all share an unwelcome voice in our head from time to time, asking if we’re good enough, can we speak well enough, will we sound authentic?

Every single one of my clients has the benefit of being a professional speaker. She or he has the responsibility of communicating important information to their audiences.

Together, we explore the four component parts of excellent communication, including authority (status), interest (though intonation) connecting with our listener (empathy) and leadership (via posture and speech patterns).

The four component parts of excellent spoken communication:

  1. Authority
  2. Interest
  3. Connection
  4. Leadership

Building on the experience of decades of leadership roles in industry and now being a broadcaster, has created a foundation on which to build a new role. This new role allows me to embrace what I know about communication and push myself into new territory of being a story teller and a friendly voice. I am speaking as a radio presenter, live on air. Like you, I have an audience to inspire.

Each week, I coach groups of academics or voice artists or individuals via Zoom or Teams or Skype, to become better speakers, to be authentic and inspiring. My voice coaching is consistently judged by delegates to be ‘excellent’.

To find out more about voice training, accent coaching or presenting, please get in touch.

To hear Debbie’s Great Outdoors show go to Somer Valley FM Mondays 10-12 and www.bathradio.org.uk Wednesdays 10-12

Shall we dance?

When we speak, a complex series of actions begin in our lungs, larynx and mouth. The voice is started; we can hear a sound, but just how do we get ourselves understood? Thanks to a sophisticated, complex dance which originates in our mouth, our speech can be recognised and enjoyed by those who are listening to us.

Our mouths are like a ballroom and the dancers that make our voices so clear and easy to understand, need training. Who are these dancers that live in the ‘Ballroom Mouth’ and how on earth can they be trained?

The dancers are our articulators – and through undergoing a series of exercises, these dancers’ muscles become agile, flexible and strong.

Dancers in our mouth go by the names of the tongue, the soft palate, the lips and the teeth. Now, of course, the teeth cannot be flexible, but they play a key support role in their ‘Paso Doble’ in partnership with the lips and tongue.

Where would we be without our ‘TH’ the ‘f’ the ‘v’ if it wasn’t for our tongue and teeth? The teeth lightly join the tongue and together create the ‘th’ sound. The teeth balance on the lower lip to create the ‘f’ and ‘v’ sounds. These dancing articulators cooperate closely and meet in exactly the right place at the right time. You can hear their commitments to each other in our spoken words like “those three things are free, however, the thin feathers are very threadbare”.

Another collection of complex dance moves by our articulators are found in the partnership of the tongue (again) and the gum ridge (or alveolvar ridge) just behind your top teeth before your hard palate gets underway.

This dancing couple – this time the tongue tip and the gum ridge – get together for the equivalent of the free-form Foxtrot. The tongue tip joins with the gum ridge to make the sounds ‘L, N, D and T’ in varying shapes. Try this sentence, ‘Lovely Lily went unnoticed although no one knew and Lily didn’t mind.’ You will notice how much interaction goes on between your tongue tip and the gum ridge.

This week, one of my clients shared her thoughts with me about the work we are doing on her accent softening. “There’s so much going on inside the mouth with our tongue like a clock… it’s so sophisticated… it’s unbelievable. In short,” she said, “it’s very mysterious, very subtle and the nuances can be so difficult to grasp.”

I think it’s an excellent way to understand what’s happening inside our mouths as we shape our words. Once you understand that your articulators are there to work together to create different relationships with each other, it makes the task of improvement much easier.

To improve your articulation, it’s best to get help from a trained voice coach, but there are exercises you can do yourself to strengthen your muscles and develop flexibility.

One easy exercise to help strengthen your tongue:

  1. Drop your jaw, so your mouth is open and relaxed
  2. Touch the tip of your tongue onto the centre top of your lip
  3. Bend the tongue tip down to touch the centre of the bottom lip
  4. Return tongue tip to the centre of the top lip.

Take your time, move your tongue only (no closing your mouth to make it easier) and repeat this exercise ten times morning and evening.

There are plenty more exercises to develop your tongue’s strength and dexterity and help get it ready for the dance floor of the mouth!

The more flexible, strong and precise your articulators dance, the clearer the sound of your speech.

Client endorsement:
“It is a fantastic experience for me and I feel really grateful for this opportunity to work with you and it has enriched my live in so many ways.”

For more information on better articulation, clarity in speech or accent softening, please get in touch.

Wellbeing and your voice

It’s almost a year since lockdown began and our voices are being used in ways we couldn’t have imagined last February.

Back then we spoke in meetings around a table, we spoke to people at lunch and we spoke in restaurants, pubs and on flights to exciting places.

Today, our voices are being used much less than before, overall, as we mostly work from home and attend work meetings via Skype, Zoom, Teams and so on. Our voices are not so spontaneously heard and attracting attention to speak during a meeting is much harder.
Also, maintaining everyone’s interest on a Zoom call is more challenging than a face to face meeting. There’s less opportunity for chatting and finding solutions through information communication.

How does diminished use of your voice affect your sense of wellbeing?

Our voices are used to express our thoughts. As we breathe in, we inspire through air entering our lungs and this function stimulates thought – it creates inspiration – ideas. When we breathe out, our ideas are transformed into words, we express ourselves as we exhale.

This lovely exchange of thoughts, breath and speech is so important to we humans. It brings us closer and not only that, getting those thoughts out of our heads and sharing them with others empties our heads of all the jumbled thoughts that can trouble us.

We need to speak to each other more, not less. Ideas are generated through chats and informal work-breaks. One person’s idea stimulates your imagination and you in turn come up with a developed idea and so it continues.

Much of my work as a voice coach is morphing into being a life-coach when required. I discuss work issues with my clients, perhaps their feelings of anxiety when being overloaded with work by their line manager, or how to cope with interference in their own projects by other less invested colleagues.

Together, we identify key issues and how to assertively address obstacles. These obstacles might come from previous negative experiences or lack of confidence or reluctance to ‘rock the boat’. Perceptions about ourselves and about others can be very limiting. I help my clients to rediscover their own worth and provide tools to enable them to grow in the most appropriate way. It is very positive and rewarding to help my clients not only achieve vocal confidence in terms of accent, clarity and so on, but to believe in themselves and what they offer their organisation. The confidence they find in themselves transfers to their vocal tone, their body language and posture which is extraordinarily powerful to achieving positive communication outcomes.

During coaching sessions, I encourage my clients to talk about their work situation and the structure / relationship of people involved in their work. Allowing thoughts to be formed and the voice to flow freely and expressed is extremely helpful – it’s cathartic and essential to good mental health and wellbeing.

Connecting breath to thought, connecting that thought to energy and with this impulse to ultimately find your voice, is extremely liberating and helpful. Change takes time and talking enables us all to find our way through challenging situations and find good outcomes and solutions.

Those chats around the water cooler, in the queues for lunch or in coffee breaks at a seminar can’t be immediately replaced, but a good chat with your voice coach / life coach can deliver really good outcomes for you.

Please get in touch if you want to have an informal chat about how I can help with your voice, expression and confidence at work. I’ll be pleased to help. Your wellbeing matters.

New Year’s Resolutions

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We humans love a bit of encouragement and sometimes it’s good to have a goal that is relatively easy to achieve – especially during these socially-distanced times. If you have a job which is causing excessive tension in your life, it’s easy for the voice to suffer. And here, help is at hand!

To make this year’s resolution successful, it should be based on reward, not denial. This year it’s both for you and for the people you are leading at work. You’ll both feel rewarded.

Here’s my idea for a great new year’s resolution and it’s all to do with improving your voice as well as relaxing your body.

First, make sure you create some time for yourself. Find time to relax, clear your mind and allow your body to let go of the tension is carries around daily.

  1. Seat yourself comfortably in a chair that fully supports your head, neck, arms and legs.
  2. Release the tension in your muscles. Let all the weight of your body sink into your chair.
  3. Take a nice deep breath in through your nose if possible, then gently breathe out noticing the tension melting away from the muscles in your arms, chest and legs.
  4. Remember to let the chair take all of your weight as you relax all your muscles and close your eyes for a few moments, focusing only on gently breathing in and out.
  5. Feel the tension being released from your shoulders, jaw, neck and face as you breathe out.

Remember, as you relax the muscles in your shoulders, neck and jaw, the connections to your larynx are also relaxed and your voice is allowed to function more smoothly.

Here is a short recording to help you relax your body which will in turn help your voice to perform better. It will help reduce the tension around your larynx and your voice should sound less stressed.

You will find that with 10-15 minutes a day of complete relaxation though listening to this recording, and/or doing some gentle yoga or pilates, the quality of your voice can improve.

Last year I was working with several clients who have developed vocal tension due to their new working situations. One of the causes of vocal tension is stress which is carried in the body and finds its way to the larynx. Clients have complained of having a ‘croaky voice’ or ‘not being heard’ as their voice is unable to work properly due to muscular tension.

Relaxation is an important antidote to vocal issues. This year, you can allow yourself to be rewarded with your new year’s resolution by building in time for yourself each day to consciously relax your body and breathe deeply. It’s a resolution that will reward you and enable you to perform better as a manager, director, head teacher or team leader. If you have the benefit of a relaxed body and voice, you will be more successful at speaking to and leading others.

This new year’s resolution to take care of your voice should not only be started right now, but carried on daily. It should be a pleasant and restorative exercise as you invest a small amount of quality time in yourself. Relaxing your body, relaxing your voice will reward you as you speak more effectively when you’re at work.

For more information and help with techniques to relax your voice, speak more easily or articulate well, please get in touch.

Musicality and your voice

Voice Synergy, voice training, vocal coaching, voice coaching, speech training, voice warm ups, vocal warm up, voice exercises, five days of Christmas, fish and chips, smell of vinegar, breathing, deep breaths, vocal power, breathe and speakWe have just five days of Christmas 2020, thanks to the on-going Covid situation and having to maintain distance between ourselves and our loved ones.

This year, why not take advantage of the lovely number five and use it to give your voice a five-part wonderful festive work-out as we approach the holiday season?

Make the most of the time available and have a bit of fun, while establishing good and healthy work-outs habits for your vocal folds.

Our voice is created by a combination of the air that we breathe out and the vocal folds in our larynx working in harmony.

As we sit quietly, working away on the computer for example, these intricate little muscles that are responsible for making your voice work well are stationary… they are having a Still and Silent Night all of their own!

If we suddenly make demands on our voice without giving those muscles a chance to warm up properly, it just won’t function as well as we’d like. It’s like going out for a run without doing stretches and limbering up, you run the risk of injury.

Humming is a fantastic way of gently warming up your voice. It gently gets those vocal folds vibrating on a single note then as you hum up and down a few notes (like a slow police siren) those muscles can gently extend and contract. What a fabulous way to warm up your voice!

Here are five vocal exercises to help you keep tuned up – whatever speeches you have this Christmas – plus practical help to maintain health and fitness in your vocal folds.

Here are the Five Days of Christmas exercises for your voice:

  1. Humming up and down
  2. Yawning and stretching
  3. Smiling big wide smiles
  4. Inhale really deeply
  5. Move your voice around.

How to do the exercises:

  1. Take a nice breath in, imagining the smell of warm mince pies, or mulled wine, so the breath goes right down into your Christmas boots! Relax your jaw and let that hum resonate though your chest, your cheek bones and your nose.
  2. This is one where you can really let rip! Close your mouth and breathe a long, long breath in…. and on the outbreath, let your voice do some real ahhhh sounds on different notes. This is the stretch and yawn of all yawns! Go for five in a row!
  3. Relax your lips and spread them into a really wide smile. Wider, wider and wider as you say ‘eeeeeee’ on different notes. ‘Eeeee’ going up or ‘Eeeee’ going down or a mixture of both.
  4. Imagine you are inhaling the fragrant smell of your favourite Christmas food or drink as you breathe in to speak. How about that piquant smell of vinegar on your fish and chips?! This is a wonderful way of getting a great volume of air into your lungs, ready for speech.
  5. Following on from number 4, begin speaking on a higher note than normal and let each of the next words come out at a lower pitch until you reach a low note at the end. Then try starting low, getting higher, then down low again.

You can use the words of a Christmas carol to do these exercises and either say or sing the words as you gently warm up your voice.

Your voice would thank you if it could, for keeping it fit and active, ready for those festive family Zoom calls, work related conferences and just joyfully chatting to friends.

Have a peaceful, heathy and happy Christmas and please get in touch if you’d like help with your speech or voice in the New Year.