There’s a fascinating article in People Management “Call Centre Workers Suffering Voice Problems”. A lack of training and noisy environments result in one in three workers complaining of a hoarse voice often or very often! Even worse, 10% have a medical condition resulting from their work.
“Sore throats, voice loss and breathlessness were the most common conditions reported, with one in ten saying their work is suffering due to stress placed on their vocal cords.”
Voice training is vital when you are using your voice as an instrument to influence the decision maker – especially when you are on the phone and without the other non-verbal signals. In this case, noisy environments are indicated as the source of the problem. Well, certainly if you feel under pressure to compete with the noises around you to be heard, then it’s going to put pressure on your voice. I’d say there were other pressures too.
- Call centre workers have a very limited amount of time to take breaks. One of the foundations to good voice production is to be well hydrated. If you’re going to be worried about busting for the loo because you should be drinking plenty of water, then you’re likely to cut down on water consumption. Impact: the voice gets dry and husky – open to abuse.
- Call centre workers have strict targets to achieve. Your voice reflects all your feelings. If you are being criticised and your job is looking shaky, your throat is likely to tense and become strained. If on top of this, you have a rushed and noisy environment, it opens your voice to infection and hoarseness.
- Call centre workers are often young women. The voice is sensitive to hormonal changes especially around menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. During menstruation for instance, the voice can get husky and ‘furred’. If you push the sound to overcome the huskiness, again this can make the voice hoarse and open to infection.
Adele, the successful British singer of ’19’ and ’21’ and “Rolling In The Deep” and “Someone Like You” had to cancel her tour because of vocal damage. The problems were so bad, she had to be operated on and was out of action for 9 months. This had a big impact on her career.
My suspicion is that she developed vocal nodules. These are blisters on the delicate membranes that come across the windpipe and vibrate to create the sound in the larynx. It wasn’t her singing, it was her speaking voice that created the problem. The operation involved stripping layers of membrane. If this hadn’t been done, gradually her voice would have deteriorated and may have opened her to the possibility of cancer. Needless to say, it’s extremely painful.
When you are out in front of the audience, your first responsibility is to be heard. The consequences of pushing your voice can be far reaching if you rely on your voice for your work. Voice training is invaluable to gain authority, confidence and gravitas when you are presenting. Have a look at the British Voice Association website for valuable tips on how to take care of your instrument.
Or indeed, contact me – since I am a trained voice coach and member of the BVA!