As a voice actor, there’s plenty you need to be good at, like managing your time, managing relationships, marketing yourself, refining your craft and so on. But none of that matters if your voice isn’t in top shape.
It may be stating the obvious but, keeping your vocal cords healthy isn’t as simple as not singing at the top of your lungs at a concert or screaming blue murder at a rugby match. There’s a lot more to it, and whether you are a seasoned voice artist or just starting out in your voice acting career, it can’t hurt to remember the most important dos and don’ts.
Let’s start with good practises. The most important of these is probably to stay hydrated. Besides the numerous health benefits, making sure your body is hydrated is vital to the proper functioning of your vocal cords. Another good practise is breathing. Yes, we know you need to breathe to stay alive, but we’re talking about actively seeking out breathing exercises used by stage actors. Breath control affects the range, volume, and speed of your speaking and can ensure less strain on your vocal cords.
It’s also really important to “warm up” your vocal cords regularly and especially before a performance. This could entail various known methods, although humming is especially effective as it helps to stretch the vocal cords, relaxes your facial muscles, and develops your vocal resonance and tone quality.
Now, the flipside – what to avoid. Obviously, you should try to avoid getting a cold or flu by eating well, exercising regularly and keeping your immune system healthy. Smoking is a definite no-no, and that includes second hand smoke. By the same token, avoid inhaling anything nasty, like exhaust fumes or dust particles that can irritate your throat. Caffeine is known to dry out the larynx, so try to avoid drinking too much coffee, especially if you have a performance coming up. You probably know that your voice sounds different after a night of heavy drinking, so it stands to reason that this too, is something to avoid before a performance. Imagine you are recording a voice over for a feature film over two days and day one you sound like an angel and day two like the devil. Save the partying for when you have no work lined up for a couple of days.
And finally, the most obvious thing to avoid, as mentioned earlier – placing strain on your vocal cords by loud screaming, shouting, singing and so on.
Your voice is your most important asset as a voice talent, so it’s more than just professionalism to keep it in the best shape – it’s also good business practise.