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Speaking Through Masks

As a voice professional I never expected I would be training people to speak through masks, but this past year has been one full of surprises. For reporters in the field masks have been an ongoing challenge. And masks plus social distancing make being heard difficult for all of us at times.

What’s the solution? It’s learning to project your voice well. No matter what type of mask you’re wearing, proper projection of your voice will allow you to be heard.

Vocal projection is how far the sound you create travels when it leaves your mouth.  Projection is not volume.  Projection is the force you give the sound to move it away from you.  It should move like a laser beam, intense and focused.

A good exercise to improve your projection is to hold your open palm about 3 inches from your mouth. Now say the sentence,

“I’m projecting my voice,”

Say this so that you hit your hand with the sound. Next, move your hand out as far as you can with your palm facing your mouth. Say the phrase so that the sound hits your hand in this position. Once you feel you’re projecting your voice to that spot easily, take your hand away. Now pick a point about 6 feet in front of you, and project your voice to there. Once you can project your voice that far, you should have no problem being heard behind your mask. (To watch me demonstrating this, go to this short video you can see here.)

Another point to remember for good projection is to avoid letting the ends of your sentences trail off. Always try and make the last word in your sentence as strong as the first word. Keep good projection in your voice all the way to the end of each sentence.

For more on projection and resonating your voice more efficiently, see Lesson 3 on the MP3 page.  And while you’re there, you can also download Lesson 1 on Keeping a Healthy Voice for free!

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Jean Haskell April 12, 2021, 10:49 am

    Great advice–as always!

  • Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. April 13, 2021, 3:11 pm

    Jean, Thanks so much for your comment. It means a lot coming from a former Dean of Communications who knows about good voices for speech.

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