Vocal stamina refers to the ability to use your voice (by using your vocal chords) for an extended period of time. This is something that is required in a vast range of professions such as teaching – where you need to speak in front of a class for the duration of a lesson, lecturing – where you need to project your voice across a lecture theatre, singing, and more. Even jobs that do not regularly focus on using your voice can sometimes require you to do so for extended periods of time, such as in many business settings where you might have to give presentations and speeches in order to address your colleagues or superiors. In some cases this can then be even more difficult as you are not used to using your voice for such events.
Fortunately, like any kind of stamina it is possible to train for this ability by practising regularly and through a range of activities. Here we will look at some tips to help you speak for longer without becoming short of breath or losing your voice.
Warm up your voice: First of all, make sure to warm up your voice just as you would warm up your muscles for some form of athletic event. To do this you can take part in many different activities such as singing scales (which is popular among many singers as it can also help them to get their pitch correct), humming, or making a buzzing noise through the lips.
Practising your vocalising: The way you project your voice is very important and good technique can be sustained for longer than ‘shouting’ to a room full of people (and it will also be far more pleasant for your audience). To speak correctly you will aim to speak from the diaphragm – the muscle underneath the lungs that pushes air out. Visualise then speaking from the pit of your stomach and open your mouth wide while you talk. The sound should be coming from the back of your throat, and by opening your mouth more you will be improving the acoustics and so that the sound reverberates more inside. Look slightly upwards to in order to project further and speak more slowly allowing you to breath properly between sentences.
Stay well hydrated: When speaking it is important to remain hydrated and a dry throat is a very quick way to put an end to a vocal performance. Have a glass of water with you on the stage (or wherever you are) so that you can rehydrate whenever necessary.
Avoid certain foods: Eating the wrong things can make speaking (or singing) more difficult. One important one to avoid is bananas which can leave a thick film on the inside of the oesophagus and thus prevent you from vocalising as clearly as you otherwise would.
Train: If you can spend a few weeks practising your vocalising technique prior to the time you need to give your talk then this will help you to get used to doing it and will be much like training for a marathon. A while before you need to give the speech, practice talking for longer than your performance will be and this will help you to find the amount of time on the night relatively easy.
Rest: For a few days before the speech try to rest your voice when you are not training or practising. Talk in a soft voice, avoid singing loudly and try to generally avoid using your vocal chords to their fullest unless necessary.