How To Not Strain Your Voice When Speaking

 Do you feel like someone is strangling you when speaking? Here are 3 vocal exercises to stop straining and start making sounds with ease. Do these exercises daily and free your voice of strain and tension. I will also discuss one huge misconception about these exercises, so keep on reading.

SOVT Exercises

Let me show you three vocal exercises that will make your voice feel better right away and you don’t need any equipment to do them. These exercises are known to take stress away from your vocal folds and make sound production more efficient and easy. 

These SOVT exercises are the most amazing exercises for your voice, especially for those people who are struggling with vocal issues. One of my favourite SOVT exercises is straw phonation, so making sounds with straws. But today, I want to show you some quick and easy exercises that don’t require any equipment whatsoever. Not even a simple straw.

What Are SOVT Exercises?

Let me introduce you to SOVT exercises, or otherwise known semi occluded vocal tract exercises. It means that there is a partial closure or narrowing somewhere in the vocal tract. Sometimes, this narrowing is at the front of your mouth, sometimes it’s further back in your mouth. 

This narrowing is what makes these exercises so amazing. This narrowing or partial closure causes a build up of pressure in the vocal tract above the vocal cords. This pressure is reflected back at the vocal folds and it helps them work more efficiently and easily. It’s like exercising in the pool. Exercising in the pool feels easier, right? 

The pressures below and above the vocal cords are equalized, which creates an optimal environment for the vocal cords to vibrate freely. They vibrate with less effort, less impact and the vocal cords assume a more balanced position. 

Misconception About SOVT Exercises

But let me address one huge misconception about these exercises. They are magical, in my opinion, but they will not solve all vocal issues. It is important to acknowledge that the character of these exercises takes the pressure off of the vocal folds, repositions them and makes them work more efficiently while you are doing the exercises.

There is some transfer of those benefits to your voice shortly after the exercise. But if your vocal mechanism is habitually inviting tension when using your voice, whether it’s speaking or singing, the tension will show up again and again. If this is your case, SOVT exercises are a great start but the next step is retraining the motor patterns.

If you are experiencing vocal strain, tension or even pain when speaking, and you are ready to work towards a free, strong and confident voice, you can apply to our Vocal Freedom System coaching program. Check out this page to learn more about this program. 


Before we do the three exercises, let’s take a baseline. It means to do a short informal assessment of your voice before the exercises and then, we are going to compare it to your voice after the exercises. It’s a quick way to know if there are any changes in your voice. 

Count from 1 to 10 or say the days of the week. If you are a singer, sing a short cut from a song. And notice how your voice feels. On a scale from 1 to 10, how easy is it to use your voice right now? 1 means it is really hard to make a sound and 10 is the best and easiest voice you can have.

Three SOVT Exercises:

Exercise 1 The motor sound

The motor sound or the V sound is a fricative. This is a speech sound that is produced by moving air through a narrowing created between the upper teeth and the lower lip. 

Exercise 2 The NG sound

I love the NG sound because it is a neutralizing sound, meaning it keeps the larynx in the mid position at any pitch level. The NG sound uses a high tongue, which means that the tongue is out of the way, the larynx has a space to move and the tongue cannot push the larynx down. Plus all of the benefits of a semi occluded vocal tract sound, where the narrowing is at the back of the mouth. 

Exercise 3 Hand over mouth sound

This is the easiest way to create semi-occlusion in your vocal tract. All you need to do is to cover your mouth with your hand, while making a sound. It looks like this. First, say ooo in your comfortable range. Then, cover your mouth and keep making the same sound. You may even feel the back pressure that is suddenly created in your throat. Let’s now sustain sounds at three different pitch levels. 

Watch this video for more information and demonstrations of the exercises:

Link to the video:

Now, that you are done with the exercises and it is time to test your voice again. The same way as you did at the beginning of this video. Count from 1 to 10 or say the days of the week. If you are a singer, sing a short cut from a song. And notice how your voice feels now. On a scale from 1 to 10, how easy is it to use your voice right now? Any changes? 

If you are dealing with tension, I made a video, in which I walk you through 7 steps that lead to a strong voice without tension. If you want to know what voice, body and mind considerations you need to take to truly free your voice, click this link to get access to that video.


Let's find more vocal freedom together!