Pastor Robert Fergusson has been preaching and teaching for over 45 years, and during that time has learned from necessity how to take care of his voice.
Here are 10 practical tips, taken from the Reach & Influence online preaching course material, that will ensure the longevity of your voice too.
1. Learn how to breathe properly
The proper way to breathe is from your diaphragm— the muscle attached to the bottom of your rib cage. Your diaphragm is the key to breathing correctly, and breathing is the key to your voice.
2. Observe the warnings
Pain in your voice is a warning sign that something is wrong. Don’t just push through the pain and ignore the warning, but learn why your body is responding that way.
3. Take vocal care lessons
Investing in professional lessons is helpful as experts can diagnose both your strengths and weaknesses regarding how you use your voice.
4. Drink warm water
Don’t be tempted to drink cold water before or while you are speaking as cold water will make your vocal cords tense up.
5. Watch your diet
Different food can affect your voice negatively— particularly mints, spicy food, and anything with milk; milk causes you to create phlegm, and phlegm causes you to cough and consequently damage your vocal cords.
6. Establish routines
Create a system prior to speaking that may include a specific vocal warm up, what you will and won’t eat, and how you’ll use your voice— then stick to it.
7. Leave smoky and noisy environments
Ironically many churches today are incredibly noisy and even use smoke machines during services. As a pastor, it is often necessary to speak with people during and around each service, but rather than speak over the noise, invite them outside to the foyer or a side room.
8. Avoid strain
It is very easy to strain your voice, and not just from shouting, but even from whispering for long periods.
9. Understand your medication
You may be on medication for one reason or another, so talk to your doctor about how each specific medication may be affecting your voice.
10. Soothe your vocal cords with steam
While water might help to remove phlegm, steam is even better as it will get into your vocal passages. If you’re able to have a hot shower you’ll notice that it allows you to breathe and speak clearer.
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