1. Stay healthy
The quickest route to a fragile, hoarse voice is through a cold, so those sickness-avoiding techniques we utilize during cold and flu season are critical for voice preservation year-round.
Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, and wash them as often as possible. Get optimum sleep and follow a healthy diet.
2. Don’t speak too loudly
Yelling is the easiest way to wreck one’s voice, so utilize whatever strategies you can to keep loud speech to a minimum. If your classroom is exceptionally rowdy, get a bell or other signal to quiet your class without attempting to holler over them.
When speaking at assemblies or multi-classroom gatherings, take the administrative steps to achieve a microphone. It only takes one afternoon of calling across a crowded cafeteria for a sore, strained voice days after.
3. Slow down your speech
Making an effort to always speak in a normal pace will keep our voices strong.
4. Be aware of your breathing
Throughout the school day, check in with yourself to make sure your breath is regular and steady.
At the end of the day, when laying down, our abdomens expand as we draw breath in and deflate as we exhale. We should aim for that breathing style throughout our hectic days.
5. Find your natural pitch
The more we speak at the pitch level that our voice is accustomed too, the less likely we are to strain. Our best speaking pitch is not the highest or lowest pitch in our natural range, it is in the middle.
Teachers often may speak lower than natural for a more authoritative sound, or higher than natural to convey friendliness. Both adjustments can overuse the voice.
Instead, aim for the sound range that comes to your voice naturally, such as the tone of your voice when you spontaneously say “uh-huh.” The top note of your “huh” typically reflects your natural and optimum speaking pitch. If the voice you use to speak in the classroom differs from your natural pitch, you could be straining.
6. Do vocal straw exercises
If a hoarse, strained or lost voice is a regular occurrence, add vocal exercises using a simple drinking straw to your day. These simple exercises take just a few minutes per day but can make a big difference in voice preservation. You can find straw voice exercises on YouTube.
7. Stay hydrated
Keeping your voice, as well as your body, hydrated through drinking lots of water is key. Coffee does not count, and caffeinated beverages can have the opposite effect and dry out our voices. Water lubricates the vocal folds, preventing wear and tear.
8. Be aware of vocal fry
Young women (and those of us who may want to connect with young people) are most likely to use the voice pattern of vocal fry. This low, creaky voice vibration is caused by a fluttering of the vocal folds that abuses them, truly frying our voices. This speaking style is high damaging to vocal folds, and can cause vocal nodules and every day hoarseness.