How to Give a Great Presentation With a Sore Voice by Alex Owen-Hill.
You’ve got a presentation tomorrow, but you’ve lost your voice! How can you make it better? Don’t worry, all is not lost. You can still give a great presentation with a sore voice.
Some years before I was born, Cathie Owen (the only voice coach who also happens to be my mum) was at a conference of voice teachers. Speaking at the conference was the great Cicely Berry — a voice coach who has influenced not only Cathie’s (and thus my) approach to voice but has influenced hundreds of voice teachers and coached actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Emily Watson, Helen Hunt and Sean Connery.
When she arrived at the conference, Cicely Berry had been a bit ill and her voice was sore. She could only speak very quietly, but she didn’t want to let down the attendees by cancelling her speech. She stood up to talk despite having “lost” her voice.
How Cicely Berry Spoke Even With a Sore Voice
Being a highly skilled voice user, she knew how to speak and be heard without hurting her voice further. She spoke quietly, with intense focus, but did not whisper. She opened her mouth wide and used clear, crisp articulation so that the audience could understand every word. Even the people at the very back of the room could hear her.
You can still give a great presentation even if your voice is sore.
But, be prepared to change how you deliver the presentation.
As soon as you realise you have a sore throat, stop… and breathe out. Take a few deep breaths and tell yourself: “I am now in Voice Preservation Mode. I will stop thinking ‘how can I get rid of this sore throat’. It will not go away. If I try to push through the sore throat, it will make my voice worse. Instead, I will commit to doing all I can to give a great presentation without hurting my voice further.”
Warning: Don’t Follow Bad Advice
You can find a lot of bad advice about how to “beat” a sore throat when you have to use your voice professionally. A lot of this advice can actually risk damaging your voice further, like taking certain medications or products, “pushing through the pain” (aargh, never do this!) or suppressing the pain with painkillers.
Last week, I wrote about the 10 dangers which can make your voice worse when your throat is already sore. You can read the article here: Lost Your Voice? 10 Ways to Make Your Sore Voice Worse.
You can bet that Cicely Berry did not commit any of these mistakes. Instead, she probably followed some of the following 8 steps for giving a great presentation with a sore voice.