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A Voice Actor’s Crazy Cure for the Hiccups

I hate the hiccups.

I really, REALLY hate the hiccups.

Not only do they make it impossible to record any voiceover work, mine are painful.

You see, I don’t get the cute little “Excuse me” kind of hiccups. I don’t get the “Oops, I’ve had a little too much to drink” kind of hiccups. I get horribly horrendous hiccups. The kind that hurt. The kind that make my ears pop. The kind that feel like someone’s practicing kickboxing in my stomach. The kind that go on for over an hour and make my diaphragm sore.

The worst ones are the kind that fiendishly show up around bedtime. Have you ever tried to go to sleep when your diaphragm is seizing up every 30 seconds? It can’t be done.

And oh, the things I’ve tried to cure them:

Holding my breath
Having someone try to scare me
Drinking a glass of water
Drinking a glass of water from the far edge of the glass while bent over
Breathing into a paper bag
Dissolving a teaspoon of sugar on my tongue
Pulling on my tongue
Pressing on my lip, right below the base of my nose
Gently rubbing my eyeballs

None of these techniques have worked very well, if at all. So I’ve suffered. For decades I’ve suffered. I can remember the time I got them while I was on the air at KLOL in Houston back in the early 80s.

Most of the time, my hiccups seem to be triggered by drainage from my sinuses irritating the back of my throat. This irritates the nerves that run from my neck down into my chest. (This drainage, by the way, sometimes turns into a sinus infection, which is usually followed by a voice actor’s worst nightmare.)

Laryngitis.

And yes, I use all the tricks my otolaryngologist (who specializes in voices) gave me to keep my sinuses clear: frequent saline rinses, steroid nasal sprays, expectorants, and antihistamines. But I still get about one infection a year in the allergy capital of South Texas.

Now, I’m not a doctor, and I’ve never played one in a voiceover script. (I have, however, done some medical narration.) But the research I’ve done has indicated that the culprit in my hiccups is the vagus nerve. In theory, if I calmed down the vagus nerve, I would make the hiccups go away. But how would I do that?

Last night, when I was up at 2 in the morning with yet another body-shaking case of the hiccups, I decided to search on the Internet for cures for the hiccups. Of course, I found all the ones mentioned above that haven’t done me any good.

But I also found a new, and somewhat crazy technique that I’d never used before, so I thought I’d try it.

IT WORKED!!!

My hiccups were gone in less than 15 seconds! This new technique worked at 2:00 am, it worked again when the hiccups woke me up at 4:30 am, and it worked yet again when they reared their ugly head after a major coughing fit at 5:00 the next afternoon.

So what do you need for this crazy, yet simple technique? Only six things :

  • A glass of cold water (ice water or refrigerator dispenser water, not room temperature water)
  • A straw
  • One finger from each hand
  • Both of your ears

Here’s what you do:

You know that little flap in front of the hole in your ear canal where the sound goes in? That’s called the tragus (or tragi, if you’re talking about both of them.) It’s the part with the piercing in it in this picture. What you want to do is take your fingers, press in on the tragi so that you stop up your ears and muffle the all the sound, and at the same time, drink the cold water through the straw. I’ve found that about 10 swallows of ice cold water is all it takes to make my hiccups vanish. Ten or fifteen seconds and the agony is OVER.

Again, I’m no doctor, and I may have the anatomy all wrong, but I do know that for the first time in 40 years, I’ve found a cure for the hiccups that consistently works for me.

I am beyond grateful. And I hope it works for you, too.

I just don’t know if it will work for that lady with the piercing. How’s she going to push in on her tragus with that barbell in the way?

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Interview with an ACX Author

Are you an audiobook narrator?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like behind the curtain that ACX puts between you and the authors?

What happens after you submit your audition?

How many auditions did they receive?

How did they choose the narrator?

Did they select PFH or royalty share, and why?

In this interview, Tyler Dahl, co-author of the science fiction novel The Compatibility Code, lets audiobook narrators know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of your ACX auditions.

He tells why he decided to use the ACX platform for the audiobook version of his first published novel, how many auditions he received, how he chose the narrator, how the narrator was paid, and how the entire ACX process worked from initial posting to final product.

You’ll be surprised at some of his answers.

The obvious question, of course, is…..why didn’t I, a voiceover talent in my own right, narrate this audio book?

Here’s the backstory:

I’ve known Tyler since he was in high school. His wife and one of my daughters were best friends in Junior High, and remain close to this day. He knows I’m a voice talent, and he graciously asked me if I would like to narrate the book before it went up on ACX.

I turned him down.

Why?

Because I know my own strengths as a voice talent:

Corporate narration

e-Learning and Training videos

Documentaries

Commercials

But fiction audiobooks are just not my strong suit.

Not only are all those character voices a challenge for me,  I have trouble remembering if a character named Mary is the wife, the sister, or the mistress. So I figured that Tyler would be better served by going with someone else.

I’m just a non-fiction kinda guy. No shame in that.

Click on the player below to hear the interview.

 

 

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The #1 Reason You Don’t Like Hearing a Recording of Your Own Voice

Has this ever happened to you? You record the voiceover for an eLearning project, and when you play it back, you think, “Yuck! Do I really sound like that?” Or maybe you hear your outgoing voice mail message or your voice on a video someone recorded on their Smartphone, and you think there must be something wrong with the equipment because your voice can’t possibly sound that way…

If this has ever happened to you, I have good news and bad news.

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26 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About eLearning

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and tell your younger self what you’ve learned so far about eLearning? That’s the premise behind John Araiza’s short little book, 26 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About eLearning. There were 4 “things” that really resonated with me.

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The 3 Biggest Takeaways from My First ATD Meeting

Whether you are developing eLearning content for an internal client, an external client, or, in my case, providing the voice for that eLearning content, it’s a good idea to have a good understanding of your client’s business and the challenges they face.
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