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Knowing what your voice needs to work well

know your voice

Your voice is one of the most important components of your identity, as it is as individual as your fingerprints and your DNA. It carries a large part of the emotional content of your message: subtle changes expressing intent and mood are expressed in voice, as it shapes the pitch, intonation and volume of what you say.

Voice is produced by breath, vibrating the vocal folds in the larynx. The sound produced (phonation) is amplified or resonated by the area in, around and above the larynx, including the pharynx, and the mouth and nasal cavities. Every person's shape and size of the vocal mechanism is different, giving a unique timbre to the voice. Stress creates tension that affects the muscles of the area directly impacting on voice quality.

Care of your voice

  • Be aware of your breath: having adequate breath support is essential for good voice management. Without adequate breath, the voice will sound weak and strained, and this may result in damage to the vocal folds, and poor communication.
  • Practise relaxation: a relaxed body prevents the build-up of physical tensions in the upper part of the body, particularly around the chest, shoulders, neck and mouth. Tension here can diminish the efficiency of your voice¬†and inhibit its performance. Relaxation exercises can help, including e.g., Yoga, and Pilates.
  • Practise good posture: Good posture allows your lungs to fill with air, which gives power to your voice. Being aware of posture and standing tall will support your voice, as well as denote confidence. It also helps with relaxation.
  • Articulation: paying attention to how you articulate sounds and words will help clarity. There are many websites that provide exercises to improve pronunciation to help with clarity.
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  • Expressing Emotion: pitch, tone and volume all contribute hugely to the expression of meaning in a message. Changing your voice - without straining it - is among the most effective way to emphasise the meaning of your message. Body language will support what you say.
  • Body Language: When speaking, non-verbal communication can be as important as verbal communication. The use gaze or eye contact is an important social signal. Remember to use facial expression appropriately, with smiling, frowning, and other expressions. Using hand, head and body gestures will enhance your message.

For a full online guidance on the care of the voice visit the link The Voice Care Programme

Last updated 17 May 2019 by Listen, Speak & be Heard (Email).