The Many Myths About Your Voice

30 April 2023

The voice and speech coaching industry, like all others, has its share of myths surrounding the voice and how to improve it.

Here are some common misconceptions and the facts behind each myth:

Myth: Certain foods, drinks or pastilles can ‘heal’, ‘improve’ or ‘protect’ the vocal cords.

Fact: While maintaining good overall health and hydration is essential for lubricating the vocal cords, there are no specific foods, drinks or pastilles which can heal, protect or radically improve your vocal cords. If any food or drink touched your vocal cords you would choke as it would be entering your lungs!

Myth: There is only one ‘correct’ way to speak.

Fact: Everyone’s voice is unique and different styles and techniques can work for different people. Some people speak with a natural gravelly sound to their voice, whereas others have a striking nasal sound. Some speak with small movements to their lips, whereas others over articulate. Although clear, rich, smoother sounds are usually more preferred, there is no ‘correct’ way to speak.

Myth: The diaphragm and lungs are the only muscles used when speaking.

Fact: The diaphragm and lungs play crucial roles in controlling the airflow for speaking, but they are not the only muscles involved. The vocal cords, larynx and many other various muscles throughout the chest, neck and face also contribute towards creating speech. Gently pressing on both sides of your neck when speaking will demonstrate how even tiny muscle movements can dramatically change your voice.

Myth: Homeopathic remedies or alternative medicines can improve your voice.

Fact: There is no scientific evidence to support any homeopathic remedies or alternative therapies which aim to improve the sound of your voice. The only way to improve your vocal technique is through improving the flow of air past your vocal cords via guidance from a voice coach or a diagnosis from a medically certified speech therapist if an injury or obstruction is at play.

Myth: You can become mute for life by overusing your voice.

Fact: While you can strain or damage your voice by using poor vocal technique by shouting or screaming, this will not leave you mute for life. Like most injuries, with rest, these issues can easily become resolved. The exception to this are medical issues such as cancer, extreme acid reflux or smoking which can consistently damage the vocal cords and prevent recovery.

Myth: Vocal damage is completely irreversible.

Fact: While some vocal damage such as severe vocal fold tears caused by trauma or laryngeal cancer can be permanent, a vast majority of vocal issues can be resolved with proper rest, vocal therapy and improved vocal technique. If you have any painful speech difficulties, you should always consult first with a medically certified speech language pathologist rather than a vocal coach.

Myth: Certain vocal exercises can extend your vocal range significantly.

Fact: While proper vocal technique and exercises can help you reach your full potential, they cannot drastically change your natural vocal range. Genetics, such as the size of your nose, diameter of your windpipe and length of your vocal cords play a significant role in determining your vocal range making it essential to work within the limits of your natural voice.

Myth: If you can’t speak in a pleasant manner, you never will.

Fact: Although genetics play a role in your vocal ability, your voice can be improved to a noticeable degree by training both your hearing skills and speaking technique. With earnest efforts, most can improve their vocal ability to cultivate a pleasant sound, learn how to reduce or mimic accents or even learn how to sing.

Myth: Vibrato is unnatural and should be avoided.

Fact: Vibrato is a natural oscillation in the pitch of the voice that occurs when the vocal cords vibrate freely. It is not harmful and if often a desirable quality when singing. It can also help add emotion to your storytelling by adding an element of emphasis or gravitas to your speech.

Myth: Whispering is better for your voice than speaking normally when you have a sore throat or vocal strain.

Fact: Whispering can actually be more stressful on the vocal cords than speaking normally, because less air is forced through the vocal cords, causing them to be overworked. If you are experiencing vocal strain or soreness, it is best to rest your voice entirely or speak at a comfortable volume until recovered.

If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your voice, speech or communication skills you can contact me today or read one of my best-selling books.