Episode 79: Learning Proper Care of Your Voice with Speech Pathologist Sara Davis

Sara Davis

As fitness professionals, we are considered “vocal athletes” according to Speech and Voice Pathologist Sara Davis.

Sara Davis

Speech Language Pathologist

As fitness professionals, we are considered "vocal athletes" according to Speech and Voice Pathologist Sara Davis. This means that on a daily basis we put ourselves at risk of injuring our voice. Many of us may even experience frequent vocal fatigue, hoarseness, or worse- all of which can be avoided completely by learning the tips in this episode. Learn to keep your voice healthy and bright- so you can use it as the instrument it is to create a tremendous class experience and impact on your clients.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

• How to care for the most important muscles in our body for delivering a high-quality class experience

• Vocal “spice”, or ways you can use your voice that are dynamic

• Signs that your voice is strained, and what to do about it

Here's the Complete List of Tips:

(7:46) Don’t forget that the mic will amplify you!

The mic will amplify what you might be lacking in the voice realm, or the amazing things you’re doing. That includes your yelling, which can be a powerful motivator, but loses its impact when sustained for a long time, and you’ll get tuned out. The same goes for speaking too much.Variety is key- in your tone of voice, as well as your frequency. Don’t forget the importance of the “pause”.

Action Tip 1: Get into the classroom before every class and test our your volume levels! Set the mic volume slightly louder than the music. Yes, the music is extremely important and should drive your class, but don’t lose your ability to create a connection by using your voice. If your participants can’t hear you correctly, it can be a big turn off!

Action Tip 2: Practice trusting the power of silence in your class! That’s when your mind can process what you’re asking of them, get pulled closer to you, and tune in deeper to their mind/body/soul.

(11:20) Don’t get tuned out! Use these ways to include vocal variety other than intensity(shouting)

• Use “pause” or silence to create vocal variety

  • The more “spice” you can put in your voice, the more you can contribute to the journey that they are on, and our ability to create a connection.
  • Practice using different levels of intensity, different levels of inflection and emphasis.These can have the same or better effect that “shouting” will in your class. How you emphasize words can create a completely different message- without shouting!

Action Tip 1: Practice emphasis on “action” words that will bring out your goal for them within that exercise/ interval etc. Your goal is to evoke emotion, which will create a deeper connection.

Action Tip 2: Think of a bunch of emotions that you may or may not use in your class, and practices putting that emotion into phrases that you might say in class- just to practice using evoking emotion as the deeper purpose beneath what you’re saying.

(19:00) “Your energy introduces you before you even speak”

The energy you put into your voice is more important than the actual words you speak. It’s important to stay connected with your why, the feelings behind what you do, why you do it, and what inspires you- so you can start embodying it, and it comes out through your voice. People will always be more attracted to instructors that are authentic- even if they are not perfect. They will be compelled to take action- and get outside their comfort zone- which is where the results are!

Be mindful of your tone- the energy behind your words.

Action Tip 1: Practice re-connecting with your “why” before EVERY class to ensure that passion comes through in your voice- which will create deeper connection. “People won’t always remember what you say, but they will remember how you make them feel”.

(22:37) Melody, and use of the “speech stairs”

Intensity is one aspect of tone, but also “melody”. Visualize a staircase. As you speak a sentence, travel up and down the staircase to create melody in your voice. Around the 4th word of your sentence, you should reach the top of the stairs, and then throughout the rest of the sentence you should be traveling back down the stairs. So this means that the 4th word of your sentence should have the highest tone, and your tone should lower back to the end of the sentence.

Be mindful of how you speak casually, because misuse and bad habits translate into your speaking voice in your classes.

(24:24) Don’t let your voice travel into your throat.

A healthy voice uses air to make sound, not muscle. Don’t let your voice drop into your throat when lowering your tone. It’s an easy way to damage your voice, and you’ll feel that goal fatigue within ten minutes!

(29:20) Signs your voice is not functioning correctly.

Any hoarseness is not normal! Vocal folds are fragile! If your voice changes suddenly, or something happens and it stays the same for more than two weeks- you should go see a professional- a speech pathologist, an ENT, or a laryngologist (a specialist for the voice). Go get a baseline instrumental exam, so if something changes, you have something to refer it to. Note these changes as signs that something is wrong:

  • Increased need to strain to produce the same voice
  • Increased effort to produce your voice
  • Any pain when speaking
  • A lump in your throat
  • Vocal fatigue
  • Decrease in vocal stamina
  • Reduced range in your pitch (do you hear a squeak at higher pitches)
  • Loss of vocal control

(38:44) Vocal injury prevention

1. Hydration- the more hydrated your vocal folds are, the less air is required to set them into motion- stay hydrated as you teach!

Action Tip: Try to drink half your body weight in ounces daily!

2. Humidification- sleep with a humidifier! You’ll get hydrated as you sleep (good for early morning classes!)

3. Throat Clearing- this is a huge vocal irritant and can lead to bigger problems. It’s because of a buildup of extra thick mucus that shouldn’t be there.

Action Tip: Instead of throat clearing, try swallowing hard, swallowing multiple times, sucking on a throat lozenge or sipping water.

4. Avoid Acid Reflux- taking precautions to avoid even potential reflux can be very beneficial.

Action Tip: avoid fatty or fried foods, alcohol, spicy/ tomato based foods, eating two hours before bed. Avoid eating 30 minutes before class. Also try to eat and drink things higher on thePh scale.

5. Be Efficient and be Dynamic

Other References in This Episode:

My Vocal Mist (MyPurMist)

Show Note's Index