Can You Hear Me Now?

Feb 18 11:29 2009 Lynda Stucky, M.A. CCC-Speech Pathology Print This Article

Being able to project the voice to a loud enough level so that even the people in the back of the room can hear you, is a common problem. Short of yelling, there are several things that you can manipulate to naturally project better without hurting your vocal cords. If you don't suffer from any physical problems, here are two common reasons for not being able to project well and what you can do about it.

Copyright (c) 2009 Lynda Stucky

Being able to project the voice to a loud enough level so that even the people in the back of the room can hear you,Guest Posting is a common problem. Short of yelling, there are several things that you can manipulate to naturally project better without hurting your vocal cords. If you don't suffer from any physical problems, here are two common reasons for not being able to project well and what you can do about it.

First of all, an inability to project is often a result of inadequate breath support. The vocal cords need to be supported by the muscular action of the diaphragm. Since our vocal cords vibrate because of the air we force from our lungs, it is a simple matter of pushing more airstream. This requires good breath support. But many people take inadequate breaths. A truly good breath of air causes the abdomen to expand when a deep breath is taken. (The abdomen expands because the diaphragm muscle is pushing the stomach out.)

Test your ability to breathe properly. Place your hand on your stomach and breathe. Does your stomach expand when you breathe? Watch yourself in the mirror. Does your stomach move back and forth while breathing or do your shoulders lift every time you breathe in? If your shoulders lift up, you are not getting the breath support that you need to project! The skill of using proper breath support even while speaking is hard to achieve if you have developed bad habits. It takes a conscious effort to retrain breathing habits.

The second reason some people don't project well is because they don't open their mouth wide enough when they speak. Their mouth opening is more clenched and barely open while speaking. Imagine that your vocal tract is a megaphone that begins at the small opening of the vocal cords and opens up wider and wider so that your mouth is the end of the megaphone. The wider the mouth opening, the better the sound will carry out of your mouth. Another way to think about it is to imagine two bottles standing side-by-side. One bottle is empty and the other bottle contains some water in it. When you blow over both openings, a noise is created. One of the bottles has a lower, deeper sound. Can you guess which one? The bottle with more space for the air to bounce off of will resonant better and consequently, the sound seems louder.

Speaking with an exaggerated mouth opening may seem unnatural to you if you barely open your mouth when you speak. But you will discover that it will significantly improve your ability to project when you learn to open your mouth wider while speaking. Watch newscasters and actors on television. Observe how they open their mouths widely to speak to the point that you can even see their teeth. Now watch yourself in the mirror. Can you see your teeth when you speak? If not, you aren't opening your mouth wide enough.

When trying to increase vocal loudness, many people tend to increase pitch in conjunction with increasing loudness. However, it is important that pitch does not increase. Be sure to maintain your normal pitch level so that you don't damage your vocal cords especially if the goal is to speak louder and project all the time. Learn to project by improving breath support and exaggerating your mouth opening rather than forcing loudness. This way your listeners can enjoy the important messages that you bring and you won't have to guess if your listener can hear you now!

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About Article Author

Lynda Stucky, M.A. CCC-Speech Pathology
Lynda Stucky, M.A. CCC-Speech Pathology

Lynda Stucky is an expert at working with people who want to speak with clarity, credibility, and influence. President and owner of ClearlySpeaking, her background in speech pathology offers unique skills for consulting business professionals on communication skills including accent modification (regional and foreign), voice care, vocal dynamics, diction, grammar and how to speak concisely. http://www.clearly-speaking.com

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