Several years ago I made one of the greatest mistakes of my life. In coaching and rooting for my son’s soccer team, I felt my voice rip. I cannot explain the sensation, but, from that day on, I was unable to sing again. As one who teaches voice improvement, I did something which I know not to do and which I teach others not to do. I yelled for our team instead of projecting my voice. Trust me, there is a huge difference between the two.
Earlier that day I had given two 3-hour presentations which is a lot of work for the voice – even a trained voice. My downfall was the first game of the 2nd season. Having lost every game the previous year, we scored the 1st goal and proceeded to get 3 more that night. Winning that game was the event which changed my voice forever. Instead of projecting my support, I yelled. I have paid for that mistake ever since. It did not damage my speaking voice, however, which is indeed a blessing since my livelihood is dependent on my ability to speak and not to sing.
The phrase ‘screaming at the top of your lungs’ is most appropriate because that is exactly what happened to me and is happening to many others. Most people who try to increase their volume end up screaming or yelling because they are powering their voice as well as their volume from their throat area. And, that was my mistake. In addition, the sound that results from screaming or yelling is painful to your listener’s ears.
The quality of your voice as well as its power is as individual to you as are your fingerprints. Unfortunately, most people who root for their favorite sports team or speak for great lengths of time, or try to talk in very loud surroundings are pushing their voice from their throat and voice box. It takes a lot of work and a lot of energy. Admittedly, some people can do this day in and day out without a problem. Then there are the rest of us.
Increasing my volume by tightening my lower belt muscles and powering my voice from my chest cavity would have preserved my vocal folds (cords).
Damage to the voice has happened to my aunt and to my niece as well. It is certainly congenital in my family. As a young woman, my aunt sang a cantata with a cold and has never been able to sing again. My niece, on the other hand, has spent her entire life speaking much too loudly. She carries a great deal of stress as a pediatric dentist, a mother, and a wife. One day last January, she found her voice changing from one moment to the next and it has remained that way ever since.
Damage to the vocal folds (cords) is much more common than you may think. We in America – as well as in a few other cultures – are not renowned for being a soft-spoken people and many of us are paying the price for that trait.
If you are experiencing chronic hoarseness, persistent sore throats, or even loss of voice by the end of the day, you must change how you are speaking because without change, it will only continue and, as is often the case, lead to permanent damage.
Screaming at the top of your lungs doesn’t have to be. Try projecting your voice instead. Your throat will thank you and your listeners will as well!
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit Voice Dynamic and watch Nancy as she describes The Power of Your Speaking Voice.