After lecturing for 3-4 hours my throat is often quite sore. Some days, I must lecturer for 6 hours (in past semesters, I've had some days which require lecturing for 8 hours). The problem is that for my later classes I have difficulty speaking comfortably.

I drink a lot of water, don't smoke, and use lozenges from time to time (when I'm in pain).

Are there any other known (scientific or folklore) solutions to this problem of getting a sore throat after lecturing for 3-4 hours?

  • 3
    honey? I used to do honey + lemon juice mix (as much lemon juice for it to become a drinkable liquid) as a little kid whenver I had a sore throat, and it did wonders. I've heard a grown-up variety includes rum, but I don't vouch for that :)
    – penelope
    Apr 3, 2013 at 9:43
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    Go for prevention rather than treatment. A course on improving the use of your voice might help. Some people have permanently lost their voice by neglecting this problem. Apr 3, 2013 at 14:27
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    Serious question: does lecturing involve a blackboard for you?
    – user4512
    Apr 3, 2013 at 22:58
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    @ChrisWhite No, only a whiteboard. I can imagine chalk dust would make things much worse.
    – earthling
    Apr 4, 2013 at 8:54
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    @earthling, no studies, but some Gogling found: hazards.org/voiceloss independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/… I also know a teacher who went through several years of severe voice problems. Apr 4, 2013 at 18:30

5 Answers 5

  1. Make sure you can lecture without having to raise your voice, ever. When I did lecture a lot, I sometimes used a microphone even if the group was rather small, if only to be sure that I wouldn't raise my voice more than the minimal.

  2. Drinking is good: I find that hot beverages heavily loaded with sugar are the best. I usually drink some light-flavoured tea (green tea, jasmine tea, …) with lots of sugar or honey. If the weather is hot, lemon-based drinks make you salivate more and help preventing dry sore throat.

  3. Deal with your boss to avoid those horrible teaching conditions in the first place. He might not care that it's not in your best interest, but explain to him that it's not in the students' best interest either! (Sore throat aside, I don't know anyone who can teach with as much passion on the 8th hour as on the first.)

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    hot beverages heavily loaded with sugar <- Just be careful you don't start gaining weight.
    – Joe Z.
    Apr 3, 2013 at 17:09
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    @JoeZeng don't know if we have the same lecturing “style”, but if I had to lecture for 6–8 hours straight, I'm pretty sure I'd be loosing weight no matter what!
    – F'x
    Apr 3, 2013 at 18:15
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    For future readers: I found the first point (lecture without having to raise your voice) to be the most important (and the one I most overlooked).
    – earthling
    Feb 28, 2015 at 13:12

A very often overlooked piece of advice: maintain correct posture while you lecture.

If you are, for instance, looking down at your lecture notes while talking, this places additional pressure on your throat and vocal cords, making you more tired as you go through the day. It also helps in the sound production itself—the sound will carry better when it's being projected outward instead of downward, which means you don't have to speak nearly as loud to be heard. (This will again help you over the course of a long day of lecturing.)


First, it sounds terrible to do so many hours straight, it is not really a good situation. I otherwise think voice coaching could be part of a solution. Many professional singers (particularly classical ones) need to go through rigorous training to be able to cope with a concert day after day (my partner is a singer so I get good tips from her). But, no training can prepare you for sustaining so many hours in the long-term. I am in the fortunate position of setting my hours myself and I never do more than 2 hours straight and then max 2 before and 2 after lunch.

So advice: talk to a voice coach or singing coach to see what they suggest.

  • Attention all voice or singing coaches! See above for details.
    – jvriesem
    Feb 22, 2017 at 17:45

While other answers are largely prophylactic, here are some thoughts on the cure.

Remedy: For any throat infections, gargling is the way to go. There are many ingredients one could add to gargling water: common salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, ginger, etc. Cayenne pepper, for example, supposedly contains capsaicin that could alleviate pain receptors and diminish the pain. Ginger is another antibacterial and antifungal analgesic that could work wonders on your throat. Given here and here are the recipes for a common Indian potion for sore throats made using ginger.

This Wikihow article has comprehensive list of treatments.

Rest: Nothing is more efficient than a few days of rest: if not physical absence from the school, you could at least rest your vocal chords - they deserve it!

  1. Make sure you're well hydrated at all times just before, and during, the lecture. Lecturing while thirsty means bad lubrication for your vocal chords.

  2. Make sure you're lecturing in not-too-much-louder-than a normal speaking voice. This means using a microphone if the room is large.

  3. You also have to learn to talk from the diaphragm. It's the same thing good singers do. Google searches will help you with this concept.

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