Being a theatre professional for well over twenty years and an educator for fifteen of those, I have learned how to take care of my voice. Do I need to be heard by the crowds at an outdoor performance? How about an auditorium full of high school students? The PA system is down at an event and you need to get everyone’s attention? Consider all three of them done. You want me to wear a mask all day and teach through it? Exhausting.
Regardless of where you stand on the mask issue, the fact remains that some of us are required to wear one while at work. From my point of view, it’s an inconvenience. Is it temporary? Yes. Does it hurt me? No. If it helps people feel safe and gives me some peace of mind when it comes to protecting my own family then I can certainly put up with it. If you are struggling to communicate in the mask or just find yourself tired from doing it all day then continue reading.
The truth is I find the situation amusing (sometimes) and rather absurd. So I had some fun when it came to titling this blog post. Some of the alternate titles I came up with were: “Can You Hear Me Now?,” “How Come Darth Vader Sounds Cool and I Sound like a Fool?,” “Say WHAT?,” “Mas(k) Communication,” and a personal favorite, “Wha’chu Talkin’ ’bout Willis?“
As for the talking in a mask, admittedly, it took me a couple of weeks to get my sea legs, but during that time I did a little research for how I can make it a bit easier on myself and my hearers. As a result, I have put together some things to consider when trying to communicate in a mask. Also some basic healthy preparations you can take and, of course, practicals for how to actually try and get across what you wish to convey. These pointers are helpful whether you are speaking to an individual or large groups. These pointers are not exhaustive, but should give you some useful information as well as simple reminders in a concise format.
Embedded below is a pdf of some of my findings combined with my thoughts added in. I hope that this will be useful to you and if it is, please, feel free to share it with others. Do you have some ideas of your own? Add them to the comments below. The file is also available for download on our RESoURCeS page. Stay well and best of luck!