Vocal Disorders, Vocal Projection, and Personal Voice Amplifiers

Some people naturally speak more softly than others. This can be due to innate tendencies, how someone was raised, or due to any number of medical issues. There are things you can do to help project your voice when needed both with and without outside equipment. This blog will look at some causes for vocal disorders, tips and tricks to make your voice go further naturally and when you might benefit from a personal voice amplifier. Information in this blog came from Voice Disorders, 5 Tips to Amplify Your Voice, Why Are Voice Amplifiers Helpful to Teachers? and product suggestions from the ILA website.

What Causes Vocal Disorders?

You may have a voice disorder if you have a problem with pitch, volume, tone, and other qualities of your voice. These problems occur when your vocal cords do not vibrate normally. Your voice is the sound that air makes when it is forced out of your lungs and passes over your vocal cords. Vocal cords are the 2 folds of tissue inside your larynx, also called the voice box. The vibration of those cords is what produces speech.

Voice disorders can be caused by many factors. In some cases, the cause of a voice disorder is not known. Possible causes can include:

Growths. In some cases, extra tissue may form on the vocal cords. This stops the cords from working normally. The growths can include fluid-filled sacs called cysts, wart-like lumps called papilloma, or callus-like bumps called nodules.

Inflammation and swelling. Many things can cause inflammation and swelling of the vocal cords. These include surgery, respiratory illness or allergies, GERD (acid reflux), some medicines, exposure to certain chemicals, smoking, alcohol abuse, and vocal abuse.

Nerve problems. Certain medical conditions can affect the nerves that control the vocal cords. These can include multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, Parkinson disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington disease. Nerves can also be injured from surgery or chronic inflammation of the larynx (laryngitis).

Hormones. Disorders affecting thyroid hormone, female and male hormones, and growth hormones can cause voice disorders.

Misuse of the voice. The vocal cords can be stressed by using too much tension when speaking. This can cause problems in the muscles in the throat and affect the voice. Vocal abuse can also cause a voice disorder. Vocal abuse is anything that strains or harms the vocal cords. Examples of vocal abuse include too much talking, shouting, or coughing. Smoking and constant clearing of the throat is also vocal abuse.

5 Tips to Amplify Your Voice Naturally

If you are not restricted medically from trying to enhance your vocal output naturally, here are some projection tips that will help you amplify your voice.

  1. Do your warmups. If you plan on using your vocal cords a lot you will need to warm them up before using them, otherwise you may risk straining them or doing damage to your voice. Warmups can include humming, lip trills, breathing exercises, and more. Performing these techniques and warmups will prepare your vocals so that you can sound your absolute best when needing to project your voice.
  2.  Practice your breathing. When we breathe our lungs expand, which allows our vocal folds to vibrate. This increases a voice’s capacity. Exhaling deeply helps your diaphragm move up, which helps with projection – making your voice sound more confident and authoritative. (Do not do this if you are restricted due to medical reasons)
  3. Go bigger, not harder. When trying to amplify your voice, do not push your voice too hard. Pushing your voice too hard can make you hoarse and damage your vocal cords. Focus on going bigger. Imagine the inside of your stomach, throat, and mouth. Imagine them expanding. This will help prepare your muscles. Open your mouth and throat large and amplify your voice. Never force it out.
  4. Work on your posture. A person’s posture affects their voice. When speaking, keep your shoulders neutral and your head centered, including your jaw. The way you stand should ensure optimal breathing, which will give your voice the projections it needs.
  5. Practice. This includes completing all your warmups and doing what you can to ensure your voice and vocal cords are in optimal health.

What are Voice Amplifiers and Why Should You Use Them?

When using the tips above are not enough it is time to consider getting a voice amplifier. Also called a speech support device, a voice amplifier is a mini voice announcement system. A voice amplifier might be used as an accommodation for an individual who has difficulty speaking loudly enough to be heard in noisy environments or who has a medical need to speak softly due to voice limitations. Amplifiers can be personal, portable, hand-held or body worn systems, or large area sound field or public address systems. They differ from personal sound amplifiers and hearing aids which can both be worn in the ear and used to amplify the sound around them. 

A small voice amplifier has a built-in speaker and a lightweight, moveable headset. Some headsets are wired, and some are wireless. If you need more intensification of your voice, you can download amplification apps on your phone. They also come with a rechargeable battery and can be operated with one hand.

Most people feel tired after talking a lot. This is because talking requires breathing twice of air which stimulates the loss of vital oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) content in the brain. Intensified by speaking for long periods when stressed, this contributes to the development of problems in the voice.

Excessive talking can be straining whether or not you have medical conditions creating vocal issues. If you talk too much/long it can cause light-headedness, dizziness, unsoundness of the mind, muscular tension, and sometimes discomfort in the esophagus area. If you are getting these issues, you may benefit from a personal voice amplifier.  

ILA offers many different types of personal voice amplification products including the Naphon A-580U Mini Voice Amplifier, the Spokeman Personal Voice Amplifier, and the Geemarc Ampli550 Amplified SpeakerPhone W/Caller ID 50 dB. To see all products in this category see voice amplification.

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