with Kesha Monk
What’s your vocal health routine? In this episode of the Entrepreneur Hustle series, Anne and guest co-host Kesha Monk share their secrets for keeping their voices primed for business. Get ideas for warmups, how to de-stress to get the best reads, and how to combat allergies. Do you have an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor? No? These bosses let you in on a couple of tricks they’ve learned from specialists. This is an episode full of actionable tips + where to get all-natural VoCal Throat Spray. Relax, breathe, and listen to this prescription for good vocal health!
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
Warming up your voice at the beginning of every day is vitally important
Not warming up can impact your performance
Your warm-up should include your vocal cords, neck, and spine
Tongue twisters are a great warmup
Talking itself can be a good warmup
Get a clear water bottle with a straw, and blow into it, making bubbles while doing vocal slides
“Blowing raspberries” can help warm up your lips
Postnasal drip will make your voice sound gummy. The VoCal throat spray can help this!
Having an ENT or ornithologist can be helpful to your vocal health
In addition to vocal health, your ear health is vitally important
Overuse or improper use of your voice can strain the muscles in your throat, even if your sessions aren’t necessarily vocally stressful
Don’t clear your throat. You should gently cough to clear the phlegm
Good breath control is vital to voiceover, and taking deep diaphragmatic breaths can also be a good warmup
Don’t be self-conscious that these breaths will show up in a session, this is why we have editing
Decaffeinated tea can also be great for your vocal health
Lemon and honey can be good for your throat
A nasal wash, or neti pot is also good for clearing out congestion
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! You have to do this 24/7 not just before you go into the booth!
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
Protect your vocal health with the VoCal Throat Spray from VO Peeps
Keep your booth smelling fresh with the VO Peeps Booth Breeze
Exercise your voice with The Voice Straw
Learn more about the benefits of a Neti Pot
Recorded on ipDTL
>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey everyone, welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, and I’m here with my wonderful, wonderful friend and guest cohost, Kesha Monk.
Kesha: Hey, pretty girl. How you doin’?
Anne: I’m doing good. How about yourself?
Kesha: I’m chilling.
Anne: That’s a good way to be. I have to say though, the last few days, like the weather has changed, and my voice, I, I — literally, I got up the other day, and I had to start talking. And thankfully I didn’t have to be talking in the booth, because I would need to warm up. But I had to talk to somebody on the phone, and I could barely talk because I was so allergic. And I’ll tell ya, I think it would be good to talk about maybe some of our vocal health and remedies that we might have to keep ourselves primed and in great voice —
Anne: — for our business.
Kesha: Absolutely. I have a ton of advice on that.
Anne: Well, first of all, I think warm-ups are pretty important. I know my body, it’s very — I think it’s very important to be body-aware for warming up in the booth. And there’s a lot of times when I just run into the booth, and I know a lot of my — people just run into the booth, and they’re stressed, their, you know, adrenaline is up there, and there’s stress in every part of their body, and they are not performing I think as good as they could in the booth.
Kesha: Right. I totally agree.
Anne: I think warm-ups are pretty darn important. And for me, warming up includes warming up all the area around my vocal cords. And so I do a lot of neck stretches, a lot of head rolls, I do a spine roll actually when I get up, and definitely warm up the area around my vocal cords.
Anne: And then I do some of those, you know, happy tongue twisters if I have to.
Anne: Usually what I try to do is, I’m talking to someone or talking to a client, and that actually serves as a good warm-up for me as well.
Kesha: Oh yeah.
Anne: But I got other tips and tricks. What about you when you’re just getting up in the morning, Kesha? What do you do?
Kesha: I have an orontologist, and she taught me this. I thought it was so strange, and I can’t explain why it works, but it just does. So I get a water bottle, and I fill it up all the way to the top, a clear water bottle, and then I take a straw. And I don’t put the straw all the way in the water, but just like at the surface.
Anne: Ah yes.
Kesha: And then I take a really deep breath, then I blow. But I go [siren like sound]
Anne: Into the straw.
Kesha: Into the straw, where you’re actually making bubbles. It helps relax my throat muscles. It just makes me relax. Again it sounds crazy, but believe me, when you do it, it just helps. You know?
Anne: They sell, they actually sell, I believe, a straw kit. Now I have to — now it’s gonna make me crazy until I actually — it’s because I had some of my students talking about it the other day. But they actually sell like a kit of straws so that you can do that. There’s also that warmup where you’re just letting your lips relax and just [motor-like sound]
Kesha: Right, exactly. Yes. Yes.
Anne: That actually is supposed to be really good as an initial warmup.
Kesha: Absolutely. That does help. It helps a lot. So yeah, those are kind of the quirky things that I do.
Anne: So do you have allergies? Do they affect your throat or your voice at all?
Kesha: I used to. I don’t know, when you get older, like things change.
Anne: They say every seven years your body changes.
Kesha: Yeah, and that’s totally true. I don’t have allergies anymore, but I do have a few things wrong with my back and my knees, but that’s another podcast. [laughs]
Anne: That’s another podcast.
Kesha: But yeah, I’m, I’m blessed in the sense where I don’t really deal with a lot of seasonal allergies. If I do experience it every once in a while, they’re usually nasal, you know? They’re nasal. I deal with a lot of congestion, which of course can affect your voice, but.
Anne: Oh yeah. Absolutely. That’s the worst thing. That’s the worst thing is to be nasal, and that’s maybe if you’re recovering from a cold. I do know that for my allergies, I definitely have to just be aware. Ok, today is an allergy day. Either I have — for me, I don’t have a lot of runny-ness. Well, I should not say outward runny-ness. Maybe this is TMI, but I will have more [laughs] I will more than likely have a post-nasal drip versus me having my nose running, where I have to blow my nose all the time. So it’s good and it’s bad in a way because the post-nasal drip, it kind of coats your vocal cords so that it can be, how shall I say, a little gummy. So I really want to make sure there’s a clear path. So I actually many years ago created my own vocal throat spray from some essential oils —
Anne: — that I, yeah. My husband kind of got into these oils. They’re Doterra oils. And we just like them because I love the smell of essential oils. And after a little bit of research in using them, there’s actually a throat spray that singers use, that use some of these essential oils. I kind of made up my own essential oil, and I’ve been selling it for, oh my gosh, I think four years. It’s my vocal health essentials.
Kesha: Why don’t you sponsor your own show at the end of each show? You should be plugging that. What is wrong with you?
Anne: My vocal throat spray. So I love my vocal throat spray, and I actually have a booth breeze too, which is if you want your —
Kesha: I have that.
Anne: Oh yes. That’s right. So if you want your booth to smell lovely, to get you in a zen state of mind, to have good performance, I have that as well.
Kesha: I literally still have that bottle. You gave me one a couple years ago. It’s in a blue bottle. I have it right here. I”m not lying.
Anne: That’s right, that’s right. So yeah. And of course, I won’t spend the entire podcast trying to sell my vocal spray, but I will say that for anybody that’s experienced essential oils, you know, I can make no claims that they will cure anything. However they certainly do help when I have a scratchy allergy throat, raspy throat. I have a lot of people that, you know, come back time and time again to buy it, saying that it really helps them when they do video game work or character work. If they’re straining their vocal cords a lot, it will really help to soothe it because —
Kesha: Anne, and you probably think I’m lying, but I really, really do — it says VO Booth Breeze. It’s peppermint —
Anne: Oh my God!
Kesha: — spearmint, lavender —
Anne: There you go.
Kesha: — lemongrass, eucalyptus and distilled water.
Anne: There you go. That stuff doesn’t go bad. And so, yeah, that’s interesting, because I did probably give that to you —
Kesha: You did!
Anne: — more than two years ago.
Kesha: Listen, I still have it. It’s sitting right here.
Anne: Wow. Well, good. You can spray it in your booth and we can be zen.
Kesha: Yes! Yes!
Anne: One thing that I have too that’s very important — you have an orontologist? — I have an ENT that I go to religiously. I go every, gosh, three months. I go every three months. Mostly he’s checking my ears because I had an issue with my ear where I perforated my eardrum many, many years ago. I also have very tiny ear canals. Like little, tiny baby — as a matter of fact, they have to use pediatric —
Kesha: Are you serous?
Anne: Now you know everything. They have to use pediatric tools to look at my ears, yes.
Anne: I don’t know why my ears are so tiny and my canals are so tiny. They get filled up with wax. And of course, not only do I need to be able to voice properly, but I need to be able to hear properly.
Kesha: Right, exactly.
Anne: I’m continually getting my ears checked and my ears cleaned by my ENT. If I have any throat issues, or you know, ear/nose/throat, ENT, I have someone that I trust and that I love and I visit regularly. Except during the pandemic I’m not visiting him quite as much.
Anne: I feel — blessings to him, because he’s in really close contact with, you know, patients that might potentially be, you know, Covid. So yeah, that’s go to be tough, but he’s been a lifesaver. And it takes — for me, I have to trust my doctor, because they’re usually putting tools down areas [laughs] in my throat or in my ears. That’s just not a normal thing.
Kesha: Right, right.
Anne: While you’re awake and conscious, because that’s the one thing. When you’re ear, nose and throat, you kind of got to be conscious for these things.
Kesha: For sure.
Anne: They don’t just put you out so you can forget about it. They’re coming right at you with those tools. [laughs]
Kesha: For sure. I have an ENT also. I had thyroid cancer at one point, and so I definitely have an ENT. What happened with me is that this year, well this past year, over the political season, I, there was a huge uptick in the amount of work that I was receiving. My voice just started to feel weird. And I became extremely concerned. And so that’s when I went ahead and got me an orontologist. And yeah, it’s fascinating. She sticks things in my throat, and I see my vocal cords and how they work and all kinds of crazy things.
Anne: What did she find after all that? You probably used your voice so much that there was swelling maybe, or?
Kesha: She said I was suffering from basically voice fatigue. And that my —
Kesha: Because what was happening was I was talking so much, I wasn’t really dealing with any like, you know, where my voice was going hoarse or anything, but I just felt like, I, I couldn’t swallow. Like my muscles in my throat were basically over-exerted. And so it was, it was, she just said that I just need to freaking relax, that’s all. Oh and something else that she also told me to do, how not to ruin my voice, is not to clear my throat full force. And so in other words, when you feel phlegm in your throat, you’re not supposed to — even though we do it all the time, you’re not supposed to (akhem-hem-hem). You’re supposed to gently, gently remove that, clear it. (Akh akh akh) And you know, that the — you know, gosh, this is our tool. You have to take care of it. And so if the mechanic says that’s how you, you know, keep a fresh engine, I’m gonna keep the fresh engine.
Anne: Well, you know what’s so interesting is that, given the pandemic and the mask-wearing, and stuff like that, it wasn’t really a big adjustment for me because you know, even before the pandemic, I was very cautious. Like all of a sudden it became oh my goodness, this is my tool, this is my business. And now I have to make sure that I really take care of it. Anytime my husband would go traveling for business and then come back, I’d always be like practically quarantining because I didn’t want to catch anything if he had a cold coming on. And so I actually was wearing masks on planes not so long ago, before the pandemic because I was always concerned with catching something like a cold. Then it’s like you’re done. And as a matter of fact, what had originally caused my, the fact that my doc — I had an ENT was because I got an ear infection when I was flying. I didn’t even fly that long. I was flying from California to Vegas. And literally I, when I landed, I felt like I, you know, something was going on with my ears. And then I developed a head cold, and then I developed an infection in my ear.
Anne: That was what really — it was not a fun, it was not a fun trip to Vegas, that’s for sure.
Kesha: For sure, wow. But yeah, you got to take care of your gift. You gotta take care of it.
Anne: I’d be interested to find out — you were talking about how your doctor was saying you needed to relax your vocal cords? Did she have exercises for you to relax them?
Kesha: She did, and I don’t freakin’ remember. I don’t remember. Really she honestly gave me like a list of things to do. The exercise that I was talking about earlier, it was just an exercise with regards to, you know, warming up your vocal cords. But yeah, there are a ton of things that she has told me to do with regards to how to help relax. And they have helped. Sometimes I feel like my throat is literally locking up. Like it’s difficult for me to swallow. I know it sounds crazy, but that is a result of having, using my throat muscles a little bit too much. They kind of just lock up a little bit. But yeah, there are all types of things you can do to relax those muscles in your throat.
Anne: So I know one other thing that I do when I get into the booth, outside of — remember I was talking about actually doing some physical warmups like with some spine rolls and some neck rolls. I also do breathing.
Anne: I think breathing is so underrated.
Anne: But I think, you know — I know we might have mentioned this in another podcast, but for me, Kesha, let’s do it together, I like to breathe in through my nose for three seconds, and then I like to exhale for six seconds. So BOSSes and Kesha, let’s all do this together. So we’re gonna inhale through our nose, through our nose, not through our mouth, for the count of three. And then we’re gonna exhale for the count of six. Two, three, four, five, six.
Anne: And then I do that a few times. Breathe in. And then exhale. Five, four, three, two, one.
Kesha: And you know what also helps —
Anne: Really lovely.
Kesha: It is, and really, I think that slows my heart rate down just a little bit, making me feel relaxed.
Kesha: That’s truly effective to do the breathing exercises.
Anne: I feel that that will relax your mind.
Anne: It will relax your body, and I can’t help but think that that’s gonna also help to relax your throat, and it’s gonna put your breath, it’s gonna put your breath support where it needs to be, right, in your diaphragm.
Anne: When you speak, you may not be speaking so much through your — a lot of times people will speak up here in their throat. And I think that that causes a lot of strain. And I know that when I work with students to get them to just relax and breathe into their words, it really allows them a lot of power for delivering the material. And it’s amazing when you’re not afraid that you’re gonna run out of breath, how powerful your spoken word can be, when you’re not afraid of running out of breath.
Kesha: Absolutely. And it just really is a matter of just basically slowing down. A lot of times when I’m in a commercial session, and there’s a really, really long sentence, because the copy writers suck and they really don’t know how to write, even though they’re copy-writers — what I’ve learned to do is just take a deep breath —
Anne: Yes, the big breath, diaphragmatic breath.
Kesha: And then slowly, just slowly, don’t force it out —
Anne: And then start. Yeah, exactly.
Kesha: And just start. Just start, and it helps.
Anne: Oh my goodness, yes.
Kesha: It totally helps.
Anne: You can talk forever when you have a good diaphragmatic breath, that’s for sure.
Kesha: Yes, absolutely.
Anne: And people are so conscious. BOSSes, I don’t want you to be conscious of that. Because we all need to breathe. And if you’re being live directed, and there’s a sentence that’s unwieldy, you’re gonna have to execute it as if it’s just a beautifully written sentence. And that is our jobs. The better that you can deliver that sentence, the more, you know, they’re gonna love you and want you back for, you know, more jobs.
Anne: And so, if you have to take [inhales] I mean, well, you know. I mean. Everybody gets so conscious, when I’m like, “no, you take that diaphragmatic breath. I don’t care. You take it. We’re all family here.” So you cannot [laughs] you cannot be embarrassed or conscious of it, because it’s gonna help you perform. It’s gonna help you do your job better.
Kesha: For sure. I agree. I agree wholeheartedly. You’re really spittin’ the knowledge today, Miss Anne.
Anne: Well, let me ask you now, do you have any drinks, any particular teas? I know a lot of people, you know, really are into their teas.
Kesha: You know, I literally went out — didn’t go out — went and bought a tea box on Amazon. And I’d never in my life even thought that — you know the tea boxes that they show you when you go to a restaurant, and they want to show you they have a lot of varieties?
Anne: Oh yeah. It’s very elegant, yes.
Kesha: I bought one of those elegant boxes, because I’m like… you know, really over the past I would say two years or so, I’ve learned to love teas.
Anne: Me too.
Kesha: Decaffeinated teas. I’ve even gone to the extent where, yes, I have a wonderful array of teabags, but I even bought like the actual tea leaves, and the little — I don’t know what you call it — the little silver ball you put the stuff in, you steep it. I’m doin’ all kind of — like, girl.
Anne: I have that. I do that. I love that. Now we have to get together for tea, Kesha, because I literally have an entire cupboard of loose tea. And so my favorite, a couple of my favorites are — decaffeinated is great — rooibos tea, or rooibos tea. It’s a red tea, and it is so good, naturally decaffeinated, super healthy for ya, and that is like one of my favorite teas. It’s great hot and it’s great iced.
Kesha: Yeah, and I love it. And what I also do, and these are things that I’ve just come into my season, I buy lemons all the time. Lemons are really, really good. Honey is a super beautiful coating thing. I also have a humidifier to help me. And Anne, it’s really uncomfortable, but every once in a while, especially if you deal with the congestion and issues with your ears —
Anne: I know what you’re gonna say.
Kesha: What? No!
Anne: With ears?
Kesha: Well, it’s all connected, right?
Anne: Ok, I was gonna say, you’re either gonna do candling for your ears.
Kesha: No, not candling.
Anne: Ok, or Neti pot —
Anne: — for your nose. Oh my goodness, what have you got?
Kesha: Is that what it’s called? I call it a nasal wash.
Anne: Yes, the nasal — the Neti pot.
Kesha: The Neti pot.
Anne: It looks like a little tea pot, you stick it in one nostril and tilt your head.
Kesha: Yeah, yeah. It’s uncomfortable.
Anne: The visual is nice, the visual is really nice for that, but I’m with you there. I have one. I know a lot of people that have used one. My husband uses one every day.
Kesha: Are you serious?
Anne: Yeah. I can’t do it every day. He kind probably is. He’s, he’s got, he’s Italian and he always make fun of his big nose. I don’t think he has a huge nose, but you know, it’s easy for him, like literally. He’s done in like five seconds, where it takes me — I have tiny ear canals, tiny nose, it takes me like ten minutes to get a pot of water through there, but it does help.
Kesha: It truly helps. It does.
Anne: You just have to be careful with the amount of salt.
Kesha: I wish I —
Anne: Salt that might burn.
Kesha: I wish I had a — Maybe I can come to your house to do a group nasal wash. My husband is such a baby. He will not, he will not do it. He’s the biggest baby with this hardcore exterior. I’ll just come to your house, and we can all do it together.
Anne: It’s super! It really is helpful especially when you’re congested.
Anne: Oh my goodness, yeah. It really works for me a whole lot better. I don’t tend to run as I tend to like have the drip, which is not as, you know, it’s not as easy to get rid of that. It’s like a thick mucus. Nice. [laughs]
Kesha: I mean, it is what it is. 19:45
Anne: It is what it is. Kesha, what are your thoughts — I’m gonna say hydration is super important.
Kesha: Oh my God!
Anne: Hydration at all hours of the day and night to really just hydrate. And so you can be, have a clear voice without — I have to say that, people, the mouth noise, the clicks, the, you know, dry mouth, it’s so, that’s like, that’s what anybody talks about when they’re editing their own sound files. And it’s like, “oh my gosh, I have to get rid of the mouth clicks.” And we buy the de-clicker, and all that, all that stuff. I have to say, a couple of years ago, after I stopped taking the medication — I don’t know if the medication for your cancer made your mouth dry.
Anne: But mine did, and when I was finally able to stop taking that, I just drank water. Like not just water right before I went into the booth, but water all the time.
Kesha: All day.
Anne: And I find that my, yeah, my voice is so much better when I drink water all the time.
Kesha: You have to get those 64 ounces, and it is absolutely necessary. As a matter of fact, that was the first thing that my orontologist told me. Before she even asked me what I was dealing with, she said “baby girl, are you drinking your water, your 64 ounces of water?” That is very, very important, not just for voice artists but just in general. Like you need water to be healthy, so drink it!
Anne: Did she have any type of water that she recommended? Because I’m sitting here right now, I have my Kirkland alkaline water, which I didn’t buy it because I said “oh, I must have alkaline water.” However the bottle size is 33.8 fluid ounces, so all I have to do is make sure I drink two of them. And I love it, because it’s a big, long, tall bottle. It just makes it easy for me to guzzle water.
Kesha: I get it. My doctor didn’t necessarily recommend one or another. I just freaking fill up the refrigerator, the stuff that comes out of my refrigerator, and I have one of those half-gallon things, and I drink two a day, and that’s it.
Anne: I think no matter what you do, especially with water, like I find that if I, if I feel like elegant drinking my water, either I have a lovely tall bottle of water, or maybe I put it into a wine glass.
Kesha: When I want to feel elegant, I just do the tea.
Anne: Then I can drink my water, then I can drink my water.
Kesha: I reserve the elegance for the tea, darling, you know.
Anne: [laughs] Sometimes you gotta fake yourself out to drink the amount of water that you need to drink.
Kesha: That’s true. No, I’m with you on that. For sure.
Anne: Vocal health, guys. It’s so important. You must — I think, I think the most important thing for me is to become, become aware, aware of your body, aware how your body reacts to the weather, how it reacts to sickness, and what remedies you have. I think definitely keeping your vocal cords warmed up and not stressing them out. Any type of I think tea can help, hydration helps, and you know?
Kesha: Also being —
Anne: Taking care of that instrument.
Kesha: You got to be conscious. If you were a car enthusiast, you know what I’m saying, you love your cars, you wouldn’t just go out in 30 degree weather and start that ginny up and start running. You’d take care of it. You make sure oil is already in it. This is your, this is your tool that you need to —
Anne: You warm it up.
Kesha: — you got to. You have to.
Anne: You warm it up.
Kesha: Take care of them. Yep, yep.
Anne: Alright, Kesha. Thanks so much for that input. I always love hearing how other people take care of their voices, because it always gives me like a new, a new little tip or trick. I’ll tell you, you can’t have too many of those when you’re taking care of your voice.
Kesha: Truly, truly, truly.
Anne: Big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can connect and vocalize like a BOSS. Find out more at ipdtl.com. You guys have an amazing week. And we’ll see you next week. Bye!
>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host Anne Ganguzza. And take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voboss.com and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast to Coast connectivity via ipDTL.