Dec 31 2016
Many of us start the New Year with goals and promises to improve our lives. Of course, old habits die hard, and new ones may not stick. It takes anywhere from 21-254 days to form a new behavior, depending on the complexity of the behavior and the amount of time spent working on the change. If you want to get rid of “ums,” or up-speak, or learn to move with purpose on stage, you have to give it focus, practice, and, of course, time. However, you can make the change sticky by applying the practice and focus in multiple ways. Below is a list of five ways to improve your voice and improve your health, even your life!
Drink more water: Hydration is key to making the body work better and keeping the voice lubricated. Signs of dehydration will begin to show with as little as a 2% deficit of fluids in the body. It’s a great idea to keep water on hand and sip it throughout the day, particularly if you are presenting, singing, or simply speaking a lot during the day.
Walk: Your voice is housed in your body. Whatever is good for the rest of you is good for your voice. Walking, riding a bike, running and swimming are all recommended. Professor Bruce Schoonmaker at Furman University has created a webpage with data and suggestions for the best exercise to benefit your voice. Check it out!
Breathe: The next time you give a talk, take time to inhale and exhale deeply just before you get up to speak. Then, as you start to speak, breathe into your first words. Do this every time you give a presentation. You’ll be more relaxed, thus improving your voice and your credibility.
Join a choir. Recent studies have shown many benefits to choir singing, including a happier life; singers are more fit, happier, and more productive If you guessed it’s because of the oxytocin produced in the brain by singing, you would be correct. But the good health of singers is also due to the increased levels of immunoglobulin A, that is stimulated by singing and is a key factor in respiratory health.
Practice intentional communication: Intention is what one has in mind to do or bring about, and I mean literally “in mind,” as was shown by two studies of intention. In the first, it was revealed by New York researchers that infants as young as six months old can understand our intentions, and respond to them. Another study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show that the mirror neuron system tracks not only the actions, but also the intentions, of others. This mirror neuron system has been identified as being very important in guiding our social interactions, especially in survival and keeping us safe. Therefore, intention is a component of “trustworthiness” in social interaction and it is definitely picked up by others, which is why you need to be clear about your intention as a speaker.
For more help in doing what you say you’re going to do, check out this interesting organization: Because I Said I Would.
And for help making a new behavior stick, please see How to form a new habit on this blog.
© Tom Wang | Dreamstime.com