Taking the strain out of speaking and singing
May 11, 2020
While we’re unable to meet family, friends and work colleagues in person, the likes of Zoom and Skype have become invaluable. And unlike real-life encounters you can play around with your surroundings so as to look your best. It’s not just about a virtual background so no one knows the room is a mess. Getting the right lighting is key. To avoid unflattering shadows on your face, have your main light source – either natural daylight or a lamp – behind the screen of your device so you’re looking into the light. You can use your phone camera to experiment with locations at different times of day to see which work well. And position the screen, on a box or a pile of books if necessary, so you’re looking slightly upwards at it, to avoid the half-closed eyes look.
Another advantage of virtual meetings is that it gives you the chance to see how you appear to others. It’s not good virtual manners to stare pointedly at your own image all the time, but there’s plenty of opportunity to get feedback. One really useful thing you can notice is how you hold your head when you talk. Do you, like a lot of people, have a tendency to tilt your chin up? Do it now, while putting one hand on your throat. It’s easy to feel how strained the muscles are. That in turn will introduce strain into your voice. For your voice to sound its best your head needs to be level so your neck muscles are as relaxed as possible. Next time you’re on screen, check your chin position periodically and start to get used to what it feels like in the correct, level position.
By the way, keeping your head level is not just important when you’re talking. The same is true when you’re singing - and it’s even more tempting to tilt your chin up when you’re going for a high note.
Enjoy your virtual meet-ups, and if you’ve only dressed your top half for a work meeting remember to have with you everything you need before you start: if you have to go across the room to fetch a missing file they’re all going to know you’re still in your PJ trousers!
[Photo: Chris Montgomery]
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