Do you ever have a tickle in your throat when you’re trying to speak?

There you are on stage or on camera about to give a fabulous presentation and suddenly you feel that tickly cough starting in the back of your throat and it takes all of your effort and energy to stop it growing into a full-blown coughing fit.

If you’ve ever suffered from this pesky problem, read on. I will show you how to get rid of it for good so it will never be a problem again



  • Is having a tickle in the throat always a problem whenever you have are public speaking? Understanding the cause of this will help you solve this recurring situation.
  • You are not alone. A lot of people are experiencing TRT or Tongue Root Tension, it’s a common problem.
  • Finding and understanding the psychological root cause and doing the physical exercises that I suggested will help you eliminate TRT.



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As a holistic voice coach, many of my students suffer from the dreaded tickle cough when they’re trying to speak or sing on stage. They have this overwhelming sensation that they have to cough and sometimes it’s so bad they literally break out into a huge coughing fit right in the middle of a performance or speech. The worst thing ever!

 And I know what that feels like because I used to have it too. It’s called tongue root tension or T R T. It’s a very well-known problem that singing teachers and speech coaches they deal with every day. But don’t worry if you experience it, because it can be fixed.

Here is actually what’s happening inside the system. Your tongue is really long. It’s a long and strong muscle and one third of the tongue lays flat in the mouth while the other goes down the back of the throat almost to where the voice box is. So, you see, that’s the issue. If you’re unconsciously pulling your tongue back and down, it interferes with the airflow that makes the vocal folds work. It can be a fun little trick to play with to impress your friends. If you want to sound like Kermit the Frog or you have to do is pull back your tongue, feel the tension, and then speak like Kermit The Frog.

Another great example of tongue root tension is the singer CHER. If you have a listen to her singing her pop song “Do you believe in life after love?” She uses a lot of tongue retention. Of course, we can use the technique for fun, but for some people this is actually a very serious problem. It comes from growing up in a household where you are not encouraged to speak up and speak out for yourself. You couldn’t speak your mind. So, you learned pretty quickly as a child that the only way to really survive was to hold your tongue. If you can resonate with this and you want solution, then the next part is for you.

So how do we fix it? Easy.

Once you’ve identified that this is actually your issue, there are three exercises that you can do to teach your tongue to let the heck go of that tension.


Exercise # 1: Low Tongue Sigh.

Let’s start by relaxing all the throat muscles and the tongue and allow your mouth to drop open into an “AH” position as though a doctor is trying to put a stick on your tongue to look down your throat.

Now we’re going to make a soft sighing sound downwards until you can hear and feel all the muscles relax. It shouldn’t sound like you’re being choked to death or strangled. It should sound very relaxed. By doing these downward open throat sounds with no tension, you’re going to be teaching your vocal tract and your tongue muscle to let go. If you keep practicing, the sound will become free and relaxed and clear. 


Exercise # 2: TH Air Flow Consonants

The TH-sound can either be non-voiced or voiced. Try both sounds. For the non-voiced, all you have to do is put your hand over your voice box and blow first only air, no sound. You’re going to feel no vibration in the voice box for the very first sound.

Now try the voiced sound. You will feel vibration in the voice box for the second sound. Some people actually have their tongue way too far back and it’s going to cause you problems. So sometimes you have to stick your tongue further out than you think to do this exercise properly.

Many cultures actually don’t have TH sound in their language at all. So, if you’re an ESL (English as a Second Language) student, you might need to practice this sound a lot until it becomes more natural to you. Then it will become easy.


Exercise # 3: The Raspberry


Do you remember back at school, maybe middle school or kindergarten, and kids will blow a raspberry at you to annoy you or taunt you? Well, it’s pretty clear that these kids have no tongue retention issues because for anyone that’s holding their tongues too tight all of their life, they’re not going to be able to do the sound very easily.

So, here are two ways that I want you to practice this sound: First, again, is non-voiced and the second way is voiced. Now, it’s really tricky for some people and they can’t do it at all but keep trying because it’s a really good way to let go of tension. The goal is to actually hold it for at least 10 seconds or more.

When I suffered from really terrible tongue retention years ago, I couldn’t even hold it for three seconds.

I want you to write in the comments how long you can hold the raspberries for and also let me know which exercises today worked best for you.


Quick Recap 

The three exercises from today:

  1. The Downward Sigh
  2. The TH-sounds
  3. The Raspberry

All of these exercises will help you release the tension in your tongue and throat so you can speak with more freedom, easily and effortlessly.