Have you been conducting training lately only to find that your throat hurts and your focal chords are ailing? This is a common symptom that trainers who speak for hours get, specially if they are forced to speak at the top of their lungs so as to make every participant in the training hear them clearly and to grab everyone’s attention. Here is how to save your voice and in the process save your training career.
Cut Down on Speaking
Some trainers think that their job during a training session is to speak, speak and speak. This cannot be further from the truth. A trainer’s role is to help participants engaged by several different methods and not to bore them to death by speaking on and on for hours. I used to make the terrible mistake of speaking at the top of my lungs thinking that that is a sign of a good trainer. I even admit that I took pride in it! It was through repeated harsh feedback I received from participants that I realized my load voice was actually irritating their ear drums! I did not stop even then, it took me quite a while to realize how harmful that was not only to the trainer, as he gets a sore throat, but also to participants as they feel pain as if someone was hammering on their nerves!
I used to speak load to hold everyone’s attention. It did work, but the side effects were just too huge to make it worthwhile. An alternative way to hold their attention as you speak is to speak softly, they then will keep silent in order to be able to hear you. This is a technique I remember my math teacher at high school used to use. The class was so silent, everyone was listening attentively to him as he spoke, he spoke softly with a relatively low voice, he used pauses at appropriate moments to hold everyone’s attention. He spoke slowly too.
Another useful strategy I found was to increase the amount of activities during training and reduce the time the trainer speaks. This might sound like the trainer does not want to exert as much effort, yet in fact participants are happier like that as they get to do something and their learning experience is much better. The best approach is to alternative between having participants carry out training activities and speaking to them as a trainer explaining something. A 50/50% approach might be a good rule of thumb to aim for. For younger participants the ration of activities can even be more than that in which the trainer speaks. For older participants, in their 40s their 50s and beyond, the trainer might have to decrease the ration of activities a bit as they tend to like to listen more than do, particularly if they are employees and you are conducting corporate training, but even in public training courses as well age does matter.
Drink Warm Liquids
Having reduced the volume of your voice and amount of time in which you speak, you then have to take care of your vocals by consuming liquids as they help hydrate them. It is like a car motor which needs cooling using water circuit as it works heavily. Consuming warm drinks is an even greater idea. In the absence of warm drinks, just drinking water at room temperature will do, it is way better than letting your throat dry up. Avoid at all cost having cold drinks during or after the training. Drinking something cold after speaking for long during a training session might harm your throat so heavily that it might bleed! I learned it the hard way! Repeatedly! It is as if a glass containing boiling water is suddenly emptied and filled with cold water, the glass might just chatter! It might be easy to get rid of the broken glass and just go get a new one, not so with your precious throat, you only have one. Save your throat, save your career!
By cutting down on the time in which you speak through increasing the amount of engaging activities, and by avoiding speaking in a load voice in addition to consuming warm drinks during and after the training you get a better chance of saving yourself and your career as a trainer for years and years to come.