Get your voice in public speaking shape

It's important to get your voice in shape: vocal energy, strength and endurance is important to provide a great experience for your audience.

Your voice can produce at least 325 different pitches and be affected by excitement, stress and nerves. Voice training can make a big difference in control and the impact of your voice in public speaking. There are some great articles and videos around nowadays and in this blog I share some of the best and easiest vocal exercises that I found you should be doing to get your voice in great shape!

All vocal exercises start with proper breathing

Knowing how to breathe properly is probably one of the most important vocal exercise you can master. Proper breathing is the foundation for a healthy voice and control over nervous energy that makes your voice quiver! Breathe in through your nose and fill your lungs all the way to your abdomen with air when you speak and take only small inhalations at the end of phrases.

Try this simple breathing exercise

  • Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Place your hands on your stomach and let it relax.

  • Inhale through your noise and all the way down to your abdomen. You should see and feel it expand as you let the breath fill your ribs.

  • Hold this breath and count to 10

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth allowing your lower abdominal muscle to come in and tighten first and keep your ribs expanded. Repeat this exercise 5-10 times.

Learn to relax your voice

If your voice is tense it may sound harsh to your audience but a relaxed voice sounds more confident and controlled. Try this exercise:

  1. Stand up and place your hand lightly on your throat muscles and speak normally. Note any tenseness and the tightness of your jaw. 

  2. Yawn. Open your mouth as wide as is comfortable, allow your facial muscles to relax. Finish the yawn with a “hummmm,” prolonging the “mmm” for several seconds

  3. Now close your lips and keeping your jaw loose, waggle it from side to side and while continuing to hum

  4. Keep repeating the yawning and humming until your notice your throat muscles have loosened and become relaxed. 

Now do some basic vocal warm-ups

  1. Hum your favorite tune for a few moments

  2. Run through some scales (do re mi fa so la ti do).

  3. Now pretend you’re chewing slowly and gently loosen your jaw moving it up and down and then left to right and right to left

  4. Move your tongue around your mouth to relax tension in the back of your mouth

Volume Exercises

Some speakers naturally more volume than others and here are some exercises to help you increase your volume without straining your vocal cords:

  1. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly with a prolonged hissing sound.  Repeat 10 times.

  2. Vary the loudness of your voice using a vowel of your choice. Start with a soft sound, then middle, then loud. Then repeat but in reverse starting with the loud sound, the middle and the soft. And repeat again: soft, middle, loud, middle, soft, middle, loud, middle, soft, middle, loud. Do this for several seconds. 

  3. Repeat the exercise using a number of your choice

Take your workout to the next level

Loosen up the resonators of your voice try some tongue twisters like those below. 

  • She sells sea shells by the sea shore. The shells she sells are surely seashells. So if she sells shells on the seashore, I'm sure she sells seashore shells.

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers? If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Say them each several times but only as fast as you can go and keep them clear.  You can increase your speed over time. As a public speaker, clear and concise articulation and pronunciations are critical to ensuring your message is well received and clearly understood.

Bring it all together

Warm up your voice ideally everyday, but especially before your public speaking event. If you have an event coming up, spend a few days ahead of time exercising your voice so it’s in prime public speaking condition. Practice your speaking out loud and make sure spend at least 10 to 15 minutes warming up your voice ahead of your presentation. Spend as much time practicing as you will in front of an audience. And don’t forget the importance of breathing properly and apply that technique to your public speaking.

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