Reduce Vocal Strain Working Remotely

As we continue adjusting to our new COVID-19 reality of remote work and virtual learning, one of the last things we may be thinking about is our voice. We’re relying on our voices more than ever to stay connected to one another. Telepractice supplements in-person sessions, virtual meetings are the new normal, and social video calls with family and friends replace live gatherings.

How and where you conduct Telepractice sessions can reduce the strain on your voice.

  • Use a USB microphone or a headset with a built-in microphone. This will help your client hear you better without needing to raise your voice. It also serves as a visual reminder that you don’t need to speak loudly.
  • Whether you’re at home or in the office, choose a quiet space that is free of background noise.
  • Avoid speaking into an open space, as that can cause you to speak more loudly due to reverberations (echoes in a room that occur when you speak). It may be helpful to sit facing a wall to help bounce some of the sound of your voice back to you.
  • Use external cues—such as a sticky note or a phone reminder—to remind yourself to monitor your voice-use patterns.
  • Maintain a neutral, comfortable posture and place your computer at eye level to avoid straining your neck. Too much neck muscle strain can contribute to inefficient voice use patterns and discomfort with speaking. You could place a few books under your computer to elevate your screen or adjust your chair accordingly.

Spacing out your schedule and practicing voice exercises can also help reduce the stress on your voice.

  • Try to arrange your client schedule so that you can take short breaks from speaking throughout the day. If possible, give yourself a 10-minute break between clients or keep your lunch break voice-free.
  • Practice semi-occluded vocal tract exercises such as gentle humming and straw phonation for a few minutes at a time. These help the vocal folds vibrate with more ease and less effort, and can serve as a “vocal reset” throughout the day.
  • Balance your voice demands: If you need to use your voice heavily for work, consider reducing your voice use socially and with family. Come up with a game plan for family-friendly activities that don’t require too much voice use.
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