Working with your Voice

Working in a call centre environment can be a very stressful job and when your voice starts to give away in the middle of the day, it makes matters more difficult. I wanted to write about something I was familiar with and that people could relate to. Having worked in a call centre type environment myself, I realized how applicable some speech therapy techniques were to my day to day activities. Although most people have the preconceived notion that speech therapy can only benefit those with acquired brain injuries, developmental disabilities or other speech and swallowing disorders, this is not the case. In many cases, speech therapy can benefit any professional and can also be used preventatively or for maintenance. 

Customer service representatives in call centers constantly use their voices all day which can cause their voices to become hoarse, scratchy or breathy as time passes. This can be a result of vocal cord nodules or polyps which are caused by vocal abuse or vocal misuse (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2014). Nodules on the vocal cords begin as soft, swollen areas on the vocal cord and harden over time into benign growths (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2014). Polyps which also cause similar symptoms can be a swollen bump, a blister-like lesion or a stalk-like growth and although similar to nodules, they are usually larger (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2014). The nodules may shrink when the vocal cords are allowed to rest by limiting or eliminating speech for a few weeks (Health Central, 2014). However, as a call centre employee this is usually not a feasible or practical solution. Surgical intervention can be an option but it is usually done only in severe circumstances (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2014). Usually the condition can improve with the help of a speech pathologist. A speech pathologist can provide exercises, techniques or behavior modification to properly use the voice and avoid strain (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2014; Information About Voice Therapy for Adults, 2012). In the case of call centre agents, these techniques can include warm up exercises prior to commencing the job, teaching good posture to prevent strain of the voice, determination of comfortable pitch and loudness volume as well as how to alternate pitch instead of increasing loudness to emphasize a point and finally, providing modification suggestions for the environment such as a head set instead of a hand set which promotes good posture (Information About Voice Therapy for Adults, 2012; Sloane, 2012). For some simple exercises and behavior modifications to improve your voice health, you can drink more water to hydrate the vocal folds, use pauses and tone to covey meaning instead of increasing the loudness of your voice, align your head with your spine when sitting and ensure adequate breath when talking (Sloane, 2012). 

By: Guest Blogger, Pavithiraa Ravindran, B.A