We use it every day and yet the voice is one of the most neglected parts of our anatomy. Just think about how you use yours: chatting on the telephone, shouting at the kids, clearing your throat - the vocal cords endure a punishing schedule.
Of course if you use your voice professionally the demands are even greater; so how can you make sure you are giving this powerful, but delicate organ the care and attention it deserves?
Don’t misuse, or abuse the larynx. Never smoke and keep away from smoky atmospheres. Don’t shout. If you have a cold that’s affecting the voice box, try and avoid talking.
Dry dusty conditions, even air-conditioning, can dry out the voice significantly, so always take regular sips of water. Try to reduce your caffeine intake as this can dry out the larynx and cause hoarseness. Equally watch your alcohol consumption as this not only has a physiological impact on your voice box, but reduces your inhibitions, making you more liable to raise your voice.
If you use your voice for singing, voice-overs or telephone sales make sure you do some warm up exercises. Gentle humming at a low level can help develop resonance, clear the airways and give those pipes a soothing work-out, but be careful you don’t strain.
Large meals can alter the tonal quality of your voice (ask any singer, or voice-over artist) and this is especially true of spicy foods and dairy products.
For women, hormonal changes such as the menopause, pregnancy or menstruation can have a marked effect on the voice, as can stressful situations such as divorce or bereavement. The voice is the conduit for our emotions, so tension or depression might show in your voice, sometimes in quite unexpected ways.
If you are ever worried about your voice, seek medical advice straight away.
Enjoy your voice and use it as a creative tool, or as an instrument to bring pleasure and fulfilment, but always treat it with great care and respect.
Gary Terzza is a professional voiceover with a client list that includes Channel 4, Channel five, VH-1 and the BBC. He also runs a voice-over master class and is a member of the British Voice Association.
To learn more about Gary Terzza's coaching services just follow this link: http://vomasterclass.com/