Focus on Your Voice in 2020

March 2020 – Vol. 39, No. 2

For the Voice Committee: Jeanne L. Hatcher, MD

World Voice Day is celebrated and recognized on April 16 every year, but with the year 2020, its vision and standard cannot escape our minds. Our world is a busy one, and our attention is often pulled in many directions. First and foremost, though, is our responsibility to do no harm—and we can do that by focusing on our voices.

The visual effect of the voice as analyzed by frequency, also known as the acoustics, is one of the ways we can see our voices. But how do others see your voice? What do they hear? In those first few seconds of interaction, how are they analyzing you? There are subtle pitch changes and inflections we use to communicate any number of attitudes. This can portray emotion—a loud voice may show more aggression or urgency. A monotone voice might sound apathetic. However, a monotone voice also suggests a male gender identity. Upward inflection often aligns the voice with a female gender, at least in the United States. How we sound is also determined by geographical and cultural norms.

Regardless of where you were raised or where you live, your voice is part of the first impression a patient has of you. Focus on Your Voice in 2020. How do you sound, and how do you come across as soon as you walk in that room? Take a breath. Take a moment. Set your intention, and focus on your voice in that moment. Caring for ourselves vocally will set an example of vocal health for our patients. Vocal health starts with us. Reduce the strain with a few lip trills. Should you have forgotten about those, I am sure that your voice-trained speech-language pathology colleagues would be happy to remind you. Your patients will hear your healthy voice. Take care of yourself first and foremost. Stay hydrated, get adequate rest. Focus on a diet “in moderation.” If you feel better physically, you will also sound better.

We are more aware of, though far from proficient at, wellness. Vocal health and wellness are intimately related. How can you sound good if you don’t feel good? How can you be perceived as calm and focused if your mind is racing? Take a breath. Take a moment. Focus on you and good patient care will immediately follow. Focus on Your Voice in 2020.

A Few Vocal Health Tips:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Take caffeine, alcohol, and processed and fatty foods in moderation
  • Avoid environmental irritants
  • Think of your voice as a bank: Conserve when you can and spend when you need