Using your voice; vocal techniques

The singer in a band is, apparently, the only member of the group that does not have an instrument. Some people say that their voice is the instrument, however this is only part of the story. A singer needs and uses a microphone.

Have you ever noticed singers in live performances move the microphone further away from them while they are singing a loud part? This is because there is a relationship between the singer and their primary tool, the mic. Sing into the microphone with a big voice, and you can stand back and even sing ‘over it’ rather into it. But if you want to sing something a little quieter, something that invokes a sense of intimacy with the audience, you will put your mouth close the the mic and sing directly to it.

If you are recording vocals, your microphone and voice are your primary tools.


  • Speak at a consistent volume
  • Set up your microphone and chair in the same place every time
  • Speak into the microphone (cardioid) or attach your lapel mic at the same place on your clothing every time
  • Warm your voice up, learn the signs of a strained voice and be attentive to your needs
  • You clients will “sense” your body state, even if they cannot see you

Microphone technique

  • If you have a lavalier microphone, it is omni-directional, so you will not need to speak ‘into’ it. However it will help you to make all of your recordings in the same place (assuming you are in your house or office), and to clip it to your clothes at the same distance from your mouth every time

  • If you have a cardioid microphone, it will be sensitive to the direction you are facing. If you turn your head away from the microphone your voice will apparently become quieter. If you sit to one side of the microphone, similarly your recording will be quiet. You need to aim the microphone at your mouth, and (within reason) stay the same distance from it throughout your vocal performance

Vocal technique

As a therapist or vocal ‘talent’ your voice is your most important tool after your mind. Singers and public speakers have voice coaches to teach them how to warm up their voice before using it. However therapists rarely think of this, even though they may be using their voice all day. It will help to learn how to warm your voice up, and how to recognise signs of vocal strain, take breaks if you need them

It will help to develop an awareness of how loudly you are speaking and to speak into the microphone at a consistent volume. Our voice changes subtly throughout the day for any number of reasons, such as tiredness, hydration or just how much we have used it

Body awareness

As a therapist you will already have some understanding of mirror neurones and their part in helping us understand other people’s states. Vocal stress is a significant indicator of a person’s state and like many such indicators is often understood subconsciously by the listener. If you are stressed about making a recording (for example a hypnotherapy recording) you stress will be recorded in your vocal patterns. The listener will experience a lack of congruence between, for example, your instruction to relax, and your apparent state of being. The same can be said of posture, for example a slumped over posture will compress the lungs and stress in the shoulders may well have an effect on the voice via the neck and chest. As we are wishing to model ‘states’ to our clients, these are all factors to be considered

Julian Treasure gives a captivating talk on public speaking and invites you to try some voice warm up techniques in this insightful 10 minute lecture.

Go to the TED talk ➔