Interpreters, along with professionals such as teachers, singers, and call center operators work with their voices which means that an interpreter’s voice is their most important instrument, and, like any other tool of the trade, should be maintained and protected. In this article, we’ll look at some ways of protecting our voice – from keeping hydrated to learning breathing techniques.
Chuchotage, also known as whispered simultaneous interpreting, involves performing simultaneous interpretation in a quiet voice while sitting or standing next to the party or parties one is interpreting for. Despite what the name implies, you are not actually supposed to whisper. According to one research study, for some people, whispering may be overworking your larynx. One of the reasons for this is that people often strain their voice while whispering and trying to be heard, which may be as taxing on your voice as shouting!
… and don’t scream
Speaking of shouting, speaking in a loud voice, such as when you are trying to speak over a loud voice or project your voice when speaking at a public event, can put a strain on your vocal cords. If you need to be heard by many people at once, consider using a microphone. If you are speaking on the phone or in a video meeting, find a good headset which allows you to be heard without straining your voice.
Take regular breaks
If you spend most of the day speaking, take a vocal nap – that is, take intentional breaks from using your voice and allow it to rest for a short period of time. When your voice is hoarse due to a cold or overuse, avoid speaking to allow your voice to recover. And iIn addition to resting your voice by avoiding speaking and singing, remember to rest your whole body – overall fatigue can also adversely affect your voice
Don’t get dry
Staying hydrated is always a good idea – and having a good water balance is also a good way to take care of your vocal cords. In addition, consider placing a humidifier in your home and/or office. Having a humidifier can be especially helpful as we head into colder months, when heating can make the inside air particularly dry. Humidifying the air can help prevent things like having a dry mouth and needing to cough or clear your throat, which can be stressful for your vocal cords.
Support your voice with breathing
Taking a leaf out of singers’ books and learning breathing exercises and proper breathing techniques can help interpreters have more control over their voice. This can be especially helpful now, when many of us are straining to be heard through masks and at a distance of 6 feet. This article goes over some basic vocal techniques and voice control methods, while this video shows some easy exercises for beginners – give it a try!
We hope these tips will help your voice stay in top shape so that you can keep doing what you love!