Better Voice Blog

Taking the strain out of speaking and singing

Taking the strain out of speaking and singing

How can I have a socially distanced conversation without talking louder?

Written by:

Jane Farrell

June 1, 2020

orange megaphone on an orange wall

A lot of us are currently living with social distancing measures, which means you’re often a couple of arms’ lengths away from the person you’re talking to. And very often outside, where there’s background noise. So one way and another that can mean you’re not always understood. It’s tedious to have to repeat yourself, and it may not sort the problem anyway. So how can you be heard better - without having to resort to a megaphone?


The instinctive reaction is to talk louder, but actually that’s rarely the best first option, and If you’re not producing your voice well it can result in vocal cord strain. So what can you do that doesn’t endanger your vocal health? As a first step, try talking slower. For a start it gives people more time to process what you’re saying, and grab on to the meaning even if they don’t catch every word. It also gives you more of a chance to monitor how clearly (or not) you’re speaking. 

Speaking slower is not only good for socially distanced conversations. It is also a useful voice exercise for when life gets back to normal. If your work involves talking to groups of people, especially large groups, then for clarity you need to be talking slower than you would when chatting to a friend next to you. Speaking slower also helps you to speak with confidence - or at least give the impression of confidence: nervous speakers tend to speak fast.


Another time we’ll cover some other things you can do to be heard and understood better. Meanwhile, you may well have the opportunity at the moment to slow down the pace of your life a bit, so try slowing down your conversations too.

[Photo: Oleg Laptev]

Read more: