Vocal Abuse: Causes, Characteristics & Cure

Vocal Abuse is the misuse of the voice which can lead (or already has led) to permanent damage to the vocal cords. Teachers, trainers, coaches, public speakers and politicians are the most likely candidates for vocal abuse. However, anyone who uses their voice heavily throughout the day can experience the symptoms: chronic sore throats, hoarseness, and even loss of voice.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been working with 3 particular individuals who are all experiencing some form of vocal abuse.

A woman in her 50’s, Jennifer has been working as an Online Hypnotist for the past year. She contacted me because she had been losing her voice after just a 1-hour session with a client. Upon visiting an Ear, Nose, & Throat (ENT) Specialist, she discovered that she had nerve damage to her vocal cords, which she suffered after a catastrophic event in her life a few years ago. (Yes, the mind can do that to us!) Once she discovered her ‘real’ voice, she was able to get through her 1-hour sessions with voice to spare.

Thomas, in his late 50’s, is an audiobook narrator who was unable to keep his ‘morning’ (reading) voice for more than an hour or so. As his day progressed, his voice continued to deteriorate. After he visited an ENT Specialist, he discovered that his vocal cords were not fully closing. While he has his own methods of dealing with this closure problem, since he discovered his ‘real’ voice, he is able to hold his morning sound much longer than previously.

Considerably younger than Jennifer or Thomas, Robert owns numerous companies. He is on the phone from morning to night. At 29, Robert is experiencing a sore throat by the end of the day. He has noticed a huge improvement in the last few weeks however. Had Robert not sought help, I know that he would eventually be experiencing some form of permanent damage to his throat and vocal cords.

What are these three people doing differently now that they have discovered their ‘real’ voice?

    1. They are breathing with the support of their diaphragm, something the majority of the population is not doing.
    2. They are using their chest cavity to power and amplify their sound – only possible if you are breathing correctly.
    3. They discovered the optimum pitch of their speaking voice – only possible if they are breathing correctly and using their chest as their primary sounding board.

The result is that they decreased the wear and tear on the vocal cords and throat. In the process, however, they discovered a richer, warmer, deeper voice which sounds more mature. They also discovered they can now increase their volume without shouting. That’s a win-win situation all the way around!

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, her video training program on voice improvement. Watch Nancy as she describes in more detail The Truth About Vocal Abuse.

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