I recently suffered a bad cold and sore throat, right before I was due to run a couple of training
programmes. And these training programmes were all about how to develop a voice with impact… and I had lost mine! Timing couldn’t have been worse but this is a real situation when you’re caught short and have to do the best with what you have.
I learnt a few things abut how to best care for my voice when this happens and wanted to share these with you:
- Speaking more slowly helps your brain keep up and avoid any embarrassing slip-ups. I don’t know about you but I am not at my sharpest when I have a cold so giving myself a bit more time to process thoughts and ensure I am speaking clearly and articulating well is good.
- Pausing at appropriate places for a couple of seconds, will give you a chance to refill the lungs with air and keep the voice steady. You won’t be able to breath as deeply if your nose is blocked, so you won’t enjoy the same amount of air as normal. You may find you struggle keeping your delivery controlled and measured if you don’t take time to pause….. and breathe.
- Talking of blocked noses, ensure you have cleared your nose before going on stage or starting speaking. Sniffing throughout your presentation will be distracting and will create a bad impression with most audiences. Keep tissues with you and take a decongestant an hour or so beforehand to help keep things at bay whilst you present.
- Your throat can be drier and more tickly than usual which may cause sporadic coughing so keep a Strepsil or medicated lozenge at the side of your mouth to keep the throat lubricated. Ensure it is placed so it won’t distort what you are saying though and practice talking with it before you start to check it’s OK.
- Don’t be afraid to make reference to your cold at the beginning of the presentation. It will be obvious to most people and audiences are generally sympathetic so it may be good that they know, as opposed to thinking it is your usual voice or way you speak!