Do you need to wear a mask all day long to do your job?
Perhaps you are a teacher or a health care worker who is required to wear a mask all day long and expected to talk through it all day long as well.
Quite a few people have mentioned to me that they find it really difficult to speak through a mask for long periods of time. They are getting vocally fatigued. Their voice gets sore or hoarse. Or they might actually be losing their voice all together.
Well, if you are having trouble speaking through your mask all day long, then you are in the right place.
I’ve been working with singers, actors and speakers for more than 30 years as a wholistic voice coach and today, I’m going to give you some simple, fast and effective tools to keep your voice healthy, clear and strong, even if you have to wear a mask all day long!
HOT! HOT! HOT!
1. Do you need to improve your public speaking or presentation skills for business? Click HERE to know more.
2. Want to gain more respect and authority in work & business? Then join our upcoming masterclass.
Wanna win a free copy of one of my best-selling books?
Simply post a screenshot or video – with you in it – while watching the episode on YouTube, tag me and use #TVOCTV! Looking forward to hearing what you think about this episode!
FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Today, we are specifically talking about voice loss and vocal fatigue while wearing a face mask for work. These tips will apply to anyone, whether you are a speaker, singer or actor. Let’s dive in and get this sorted, shall we?
I am going to cover a few key areas that are all extremely important, so please pay attention and do NOT skip any of the steps as you won’t get the results that you really want.
# 1: Crisp Articulation and Slower Pace .
The first thing we need to do when speaking is close the articulators properly when we speak. The articulators actually act like a breaking system for the airflow. When people use too much airflow, this alone can tire out your voice. The 3 major articulators are teeth, tongue and lips. When you use these properly you will notice that other muscles in your respiratory system kick in and help support the voice too. More about that later.
If you clearly articulate as though the person is reading your lips, you will be clearer and easier to understand even at a distance but please don’t over articulate like Hermione Granger from Harry Potter because you will sound ridiculous.
Start to feel the way your teeth close against your tongue in an S sound, for example. You can be really lazy and make a soft, wishy washy S sound or you can be super crisp and articulate. The key is less air, better closure. This means you will get more sound than air when you speak, which in this case is exactly what we need to be heard clearly.
The next step is to slow down and stop rushing all your words. Choose words carefully and don’t waste air time. Wearing a mask is not the time to be chatty and flap your gums all day long. Use brevity and slow down your pace. That way you will save your voice from using it less, as well as saving it by improving your articulation and minimizing airflow.
#2: Nasal Breathing vs Mouth Breathing
Many people don’t even realize that when we are speaking or singing professionally, we take small gasps of air through our mouth. This is Simply because its faster and we can keep speaking or singing without taking extended pauses. Breathing through the mouth only takes a half second or so, but taking a breath through the nose takes at least 3 times longer. This is why people don’t do it much. It’s too slow and annoying for the listener. But here is the thing, the more air we take in through the mouth, the drier our vocal folds will get. People have also mentioned that not only do they breathe in dust, or fibers from the mask when mouth breathing but also that the warmth or their own expiration is being breathed back in and makes their throat feel drier. So, try taking a nasal breath when you speak as much as you can to alleviate this feeling of dryness. This tiny change could make a big difference to your voice.
#3: Resonance Ramp UP
Many people have no concept of what resonance means. Good resonance is key for all speakers and singers, and it really helps not only save the voice from harm or fatigue, but it also helps increase the volume by up to 30% without effort or force! When you are using resonance correctly, it simply means that when we are making sound, you are moving the vibrating airflow forward to the mask area: the lips, behind the teeth, the upper palate and the front of the face. If you have never done this before, you may not know how to do this but you will know when you are doing it wrong because it will feel as though you are speaking from the throat! Having a throat or back placement of sound will absolutely lead to voice issues in anyone, so you need to learn how to make the vibration come forward more to help the voice feel freer and brighter.
Try these exercises with me: WEEE WAH. Keep the wee and the wah in the same resonance space. The W brings the vibration to the front of the lips. The EE sound is very forward and helps keep the sound in the right place. When you try and do this from the throat by pushing, squeezing or forcing, it feels and sounds very different…airy and/or weak. What we need is BUZZ in the front of the face. So, practice these sounds until you can really feel the vibration coming more forward, then add other spoken word exercises as well bit by bit.
Start with very simple tasks to practice first, like counting or saying certain tongue twisters, then do some reading out loud to feel more vibration in the front of the face. You cannot do this correctly if you are lazy or mumbly or you speak too fast. So go slow and feel the buzz.
#4: Back Pressure and Support
This is the most important tip of all and where every inexperienced speaker and singer goes wrong. No understanding of back pressure and support can lead to vocal fatigue, voice loss and voice damage in just about anyone – politicians, teachers and people who speak for a living all day long. Good back pressure and support is what professional singers and actors use to project their voice to the back of the theatre seemingly effortlessly. Think of a Shakespearean Actor projecting to the back of the hall without a microphone for the whole audience to hear or singers like Celine Dion, or Lady Gaga belting out a song that is clear, strong and powerful voice with ease. These professionals have mastered the art of back pressure and support. Let me give you a little secret here: It’s got nothing to do with your back.
Now let me show you how to do it: Think of a balloon. When you put air inside the balloon it gets bigger. When we hold the neck of the balloon, the air is now under pressure on the inside and the air cannot escape. We can do the same when we hold our breath. Try it. You will feel the back pressure build up inside the thorax cavity. That’s what I mean with back pressure. Now, if we simply let go of the balloon, all the air will rush out fast and make a very inefficient sound. However, if you hold the neck of the balloon and let only a tiny bit of air escape while it’s still under pressure, it makes a really loud annoying sound.
Here is your answer: when the back pressure is kept inside the body, and only a tiny bit of air is allowed to escape through the vocal folds and articulators. BINGO! Magic happens. Strong, clear and projected sound instead of a forced weak and airy sound.
Now let’s give it a test run. Say “AY!!!!” as though someone is stealing your car which is parked on the other side of the road. Feel your abdominals engage and your transverse abdominal muscles kick outwards on the sides. If you are doing this correctly, you won’t feel any strain at all!
So go give these tips a test drive for yourself.
Do not forget: Speak up. Speak out. Be ready to be heard because remember: YOUR VOICE MATTERS.