Currently, in some areas in the world, masks are mandated in public places to reduce the spread of Covid-19. In my country, it is advised to wear a mask with three layers. Since the masks are thicker, I've noticed some of the interactions I have with cashiers at the grocery store or at the bank feel the need to shout. If you're shouting for a long time, you will hurt your voice. Shouting tenses our body which is reflected in our larynx. Plus, when you push your voice, it is difficult to change your pitch or tone. Your voice is stuck on one level sounding the same and all the listener hears is a monotonous voice.
I understand the feeling that you want to shout. A mask over your face is restrictive and for some of us is similar to a hand over your face which muffles your sound and holds you back from speaking clearly.
Here are some suggestions to help:
Don’t panic! When in panic mode we tend to speak quickly. Slowing down when you speak allows your listener to understand every word.
Clear articulation is paramount in getting your message across. Pronouncing the endings of your words helps with projection as well.
Tongue twisters are a useful tool when practicing articulation. Try this and make sure to pronounce every sound:
All I want is a proper cup of coffee, in a proper copper coffee pot.
I may be off my dot, but I want a cup of coffee in a proper copper coffee pot.
Take deep breaths. Breathing deeply activates our rest and digest nervous system which has a calming effect on us.
When we are stressed or out of habit, some of us breathe from our upper chest. We need to take full breaths from deep inside our lungs. To help drop your breath, imagine that your belly is a balloon. When you take a breath in you fill it up from the bottom of your lungs to the top.
Relax! If your body is tense, here's a wonderful exercise that I've used over and over with my clients. Progressive Relaxation is a tension and release exercise that was developed by American physician Edmond Jacobson in 1908 to help his patients overcome their anxiety. In this exercise, you tense all body parts individually and then learn to release them. If you ever feel tense during the day, when you're speaking to a client or customer, you can tense a certain part of your body, like your toes for instance and no one will know!
Change your mindset I agree that a mask is inhibiting and a great big bother. However, the need to stay safe and wear a mask isn’t going away anytime soon. Think of wearing a mask as an opportunity to improve your speaking skills. And by the time we can chuck out those masks for good, your speech will be so clear.
Remember that you have something important to say and the listener will wait.