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The Aging Voice: Three Ways to Sound More Youthful and Vibrant

Audrey Hunt, author of "Anyone Can Sing," teaches us how to attain a soft, beautiful tone when we sing.

Your Voice Reveals Your Personality: What you say and how you say it tells a lot about you.

Your Voice Reveals Your Personality: What you say and how you say it tells a lot about you.

Keeping Your Voice Young, Energetic, and Friendly

If you're struggling with the sense that you sound older than you prefer, stay tuned for three easy tips to combat the aging voice.

Instead of visiting a Doctor for injections into your vocal cords, with fillers like Restylane or Juvederm, learn what you can do to speak with a more youthful sound. It's not that hard, and I can promise you, at least, a healthier, more vibrant voice in exchange for a few minutes of your time.

So here’s my take on three helpful ways you can keep your voice young, energetic, and friendly.

“Every speaker has a mouth, an arrangement rather neat. Sometimes it’s filled with wisdom, sometimes it’s filled with feet.”

Robert Orben

Let's Get Started

You may find that as you age, your voice gets tired, or it loses its luster. The good news is - you're not stuck with your present sound. Aging voices can be recharged and sound more youthful with a slight adjustment or two.

Grab a mic, or your cell phone and record your voice each day. This is the best way to hear your true sound and make necessary changes.

Grab a mic, or your cell phone and record your voice each day. This is the best way to hear your true sound and make necessary changes.

Step 1. Record Your Voice

You won't get very far without this step, so like it or not, please record and listen to your voice as you go through each exercise. It's amazing what we learn about our voice when we record it. It's also somewhat surprising. The first time you hear your voice you may be shocked, or go into denial. This is precisely the time to let your ego take a back seat. Criticizing and judging your sound is a roadblock to progress.

The following exercise will help to alleviate a cracking and shaking sound along with roughness in the voice which is considered characteristic of advanced age.

Be sure to sip on room temperature water during all exercises. The vocal cords need moisture.

  • Begin by simply taking a breath from low in the abdomen, not the throat. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth as you coordinate this breath with the sound ‘Ah' using a strong, energetic voice.
  • Repeat this several times to increase the power of your voice as you bring the vocal cords together.
  • Now, say ‘Ah’ while sliding from low to high and back down again. This stretches and contracts the vocal cords. Do this 6 times.
  • Practice saying the following sentences using a slightly higher pitch than normal, as if you were calling to someone in the next yard over. Then try a lower pitch, using a voice of authority.

a. The train was late.

b. I ate dinner.

c. He loves fish tacos.

d. We all agreed, it was a magnificent evening.

e. My brother's dog barks a lot.

Now, listen to your recording of these exercises. If you notice even the slightest improvement, that's great. If not, continue step one before continuing.

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Step 2. As You Utter, Don't Mutter

"I can't understand you." "Would you repeat that please?" "Please speak up." Speaking more clearly isn't all that difficult, it just takes a little awareness and some practice. Remember to record and listen to your voice.

The words you speak are shaped by the mouth, particularly the lips. When you mumble you move your lips very little when you talk and don't pronounce words clearly. The vowels must "carry" and the consonants must be clearly articulated. The lips and tongue have a specific job to do. When they fail to do this job, our speech becomes mushy or mumbled and words are unclear. Poor articulation can hurt your credibility when communicating.

Practice the following articulation exercises. Begin slowly, then gradually increase your speed:

  1. Red leather, yellow leather.
  2. A big black bug bit a big black bear.
  3. She sells seashells by the seashore, and the shells she sells are seashells.
  4. Eleven benevolent elephants.
  5. Giggle gaggle gurgle.
  6. Round the rugged rocks, the ragged rascal ran.

I suggest listening to newscasters. These individuals have to speak properly and deliver information precisely. They speak with superb clarity.

Is Your Speech Too Slow or Too Fast?

Is Your Speech Too Slow or Too Fast?

Step 3. Watch Your Vocal Speed Limit

Recording your voice and listening for the tempo (fast or slow) you speak can be a constructive way to hear how you sound to others.

Maybe you’ve been told you talk too fast or too slowly, and you’re wondering what speed you should be shooting at. Most people speak at an average speed of four to five syllables per second. Most words are two to three syllables long, giving you the answer that the average person speaks approximately 100 – 130 words per minute.

Talking too fast can be a detriment to good communication. And speaking too slow will put others to sleep.

Some slow talkers do everything at a tortoise pace, including speaking. Others take great pain with their speech because they believe everything that comes out of their mouth must be correct, perfectly worded, and significant. It’s admirable to care about what you say, but you may be perceived as boring, tired, or less intelligent than you are if you speak too slowly.

A slow speaker may not realize how listeners must struggle to pay attention. To keep people awake and interested, learn to increase your speaking speech without losing articulation and thought clarity.

The speed you use adds to the power of the words. When you talk fast, there is a feeling of urgency and excitement. When you slow down, there is a sense that something momentous is being said.

Listen to radio talk show hosts and newscasters. You’ll notice that their speed varies depending on what they are talking about and what mood they are conveying. They vary both speed and tone to keep listening interesting.

Tip: Use Bottled Water as a Prop

A simple trick to help get around speaking too fast is to have bottled water next to you as you speak and drink from it regularly to create natural pauses. This works in social conversations, professional meetings, as well as public situations.

Additional Pointers For A Youthful Voice

The older you get, the more your voice may become hoarse or "tired" feeling as the day wears on. Try incorporating some or all of these suggestions to keep your aging communication tool at its best:

  • Singing, with proper technique, has been proven to enhance the speaking voice.
  • Reading aloud helps to improve your diction and expression.
  • Drink plenty of water. Make it room temperature as cold restricts the vocal cords.
  • Stop yelling. Simply get closer to the person.
  • Avoid smoking. Inflammation of the vocal cords occurs with this unhealthy habit.
  • Stop clearing your throat accessibly. Swallow a few times instead.
  • Avoid speaking at a pitch that's too high or too low. This puts strain on the voice.

Something to Remember

Your voice is meant to last a lifetime. With proper care, it will. Age is an attitude. I know people who are old at 30, and I know folks who are absolutely ageless. The way we think about aging is as important as exercise, a healthy diet, and a social climate.

And don't forget the power of gratitude. You can always find something to be grateful for. When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin and we feel good

So, let's show gratitude for our voices regardless of how we sound...

Words are things, I’m convinced. You must be careful about the words you use or the words you allow to be used in your home.” Words, she felt, have the power to seep into everything around us. “I think they get on the walls,” she said, “they get in your wallpaper, they get in your rugs and your upholstery and your clothes, and finally into you.

— Maya Angelou

References

https://wordcounter.net/blog/2016/06/02/101702_how-fast-average-person-speaks.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201911/do-you-talk-too-fast-how-slow-down

https://www.throughlinegroup.com/2014/03/18/speed-up-how-to-stop-being-a-slow-talker/

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Audrey Hunt

Comments

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 30, 2021:

Marlene

I love your story and how your experience validates not clearing the throat. Thank you so much for sharing. I am grateful for you and your support.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on June 29, 2021:

One of the first lessons I learned as a voice artist was the one you shared here, "Stop clearing your throat accessibly." My voice coach kept telling me to stop clearing my throat. He kept saying, "Just talk through it." I never understood why until I read your article today. Thank you for all of your wonderful tips.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 26, 2021:

Flourish

Yes, the singing voice, for many of us, goes through changes with aging. Then, others like Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand, are blessed with voices that remain strong and beautiful well into their 80's and 90's.

I love that you receive compliments on your voice. Fantastic! I would love to hear it. I keep playing around with mine, hoping to find a sound I really like.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 26, 2021:

PegCole

I hope you're doing well. So nice to read your comments. Enjoyed hearing about your mother's Texas draw. I've always loved hearing folks talk that have this going on. I'm happy these exercises appeal to you.

Thanks!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on June 26, 2021:

This information is really helpful. Thanks so much for the exercises. I tried a few and realized I need to practice.

I remember playing a video recording of my mother when she helped us feed our critters. She insisted that she didn't talk that slow in real life. We had a good laugh over that as she's always spoken rather slowly with a Texas drawl. I imagine I'm following in her footsteps and better speed things up.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 26, 2021:

Sometimes popular singers' voices change as they age and they can no longer hit the notes and reproduce the sounds of the chart-topping songs that initially made them famous. But then many of them engage in some hard-living, too.

Your strategies for people to weather the vocal effects of aging were fascinating. I read the article with great interest. I've received compliments on my own voice over the years, but my husband (who has husband hearing) now says I don't speak clearly at times.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 26, 2021:

Wow! This is so helpful and you know exactly what is required in the aging voice. Informative and is a valuable hub. Such interests are worth pointing out.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on June 26, 2021:

Wow! What an interesting read, Audrey. I enjoyed and learned a lot from your article. Useful information and tips. Thank you for sharing it.

Blessings and Love

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 25, 2021:

I am duly impressed, Linda. Being asked to record the phone message at work speaks volumes for your voice!

Oh, my, how I agree with you about some of the irritating habits of younger people. Both the "upspeak" and the destructive "vocal fry" sends me over the edge!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on June 25, 2021:

I read this aloud (much to the consternation of my daughter). I don't think my voice has aged. I make a point of speaking clearly and being careful with tone and tempo. (I was asked to provide the recorded message for the phone system at work when our receptionist was replaced by an automated system.)

I know this isn't exactly on topic, but I find that vocal habits (of younger people) really grate on my nerves, specifically up-speak (every statement sounds like a question), or {{shudder}} the vocal fry. Why do women do that???

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 25, 2021:

Bill, you funny man! I miss working with you, so I'm starting another book. :)

Be good, and sending love to you and yours.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 25, 2021:

Pamela,

Lung disease certainly can interfere with your speech. I hope these exercises help. Take care.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 25, 2021:

Thank you, Chitrangada. It's so nice to know that my article is useful. I still work on my voice every day.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 25, 2021:

John

How happy I am to know my article has been useful for you. There was a time that I spoke too slow. Until I heard my voice I had no clue. Good for you! Terrific!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 25, 2021:

I solve my aging voice problem by only singing when I'm alone. :)

Have a great weekend, and love always!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 25, 2021:

I am going to save your article and follow your suggestions. My husband often says he can't understand me, and while that is partly due to hearing loss, it is also due to my voice. I have lung disease and am often somewhat congested, which makes me voice different.

I appreciate this article, Audrey. I am going to give your method a try.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 25, 2021:

Nice article, with useful information and suggestions.

I have observed that with aging, voices of some people also change. It may not sound as vibrant as it was earlier. Your tips are interesting and easy to follow.

I do believe, that singing, humming and some yogic exercises do help in keeping the voice youthful.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful information.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 24, 2021:

What a great article, Audrey. I actually read the whole thing out loud and practiced the exercises. I feel my voice is always too slow and I have been accused by my wife of mumbling….after a few tries it sounded much improved, thanks.

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