Voice Exercises Improve Your Public Speaking Skills
Did you know your voice can produce as many as 325 different pitches? Or that your body uses 100 different muscles to create speech?
The stress you feel when you have to give a presentation can create tension in the muscles all over your body, including your face. That means the stress of giving a presentation can affect your voice. Don’t head into your next public speaking event with tense muscles and a squeaky, ill-performing voice. Keep your voice muscles in tip-top shape so you can provide an energetic and engaging presentation.
Vocal Exercises Start With Proper Breathing
Knowing how to breathe properly is probably one of the most important vocal exercise you can master. Quite often, we see people begin their sentences with a deep inhale and as they speak, the air from their lungs gets blown out quickly. The problem with that is it increases ventilation and then reduces carbon dioxide stores—and then it drains oxygen levels in the cells throughout the body. It actually tires you. Plus, when you take deep breaths before you speak, you end up breathing heavier.
Ideally, you should 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 three-part exercise to train yourself for better public speaking breathing techniques:
- 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. If you’re doing it correctly, you’ll be able to see and feel it expand. Then let the breath fill your ribs. Hold this breath and count to 10.
- As you exhale slowly through your mouth, allow your lower abdominal muscle to come in first while you keep your ribs expanded. Repeat this exercise 5-10 times.
Loosen Up for Public Speaking
Once you’ve mastered your breathing, it’s time to warm up your voice and mouth. Start with a few phrases to loosen your tongue muscles. Repeat each of these phrases three times and really open your mouth wide to so your jaw gets a bit of a workout, too:
- clickity, clickity, clack
- red Buick, blue Buick
- red lorry, yellow lorry
- thin sticks, thick bricks
- rolling red wagons
- pre-shrunk silk shirts
- six sticky skeletons
- strange strategic statistics
Then move onto longer phrases:
- Around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran.
- Say this sharply, say this sweetly, say these words so crisp and neatly.
- While we were walking we watched the window washers.
You can also pull tricky phrases from your own presentation and use them to help you warm up your voice and public speaking muscles.
Warm Up Your Voice, Don’t Trip on Your Tongue
Tongue twisters are the absolute best way to improve your articulation and pronunciation. Did you know your brain is trained to detect patterns and react more efficiently in order for your mouth to make the same sound? As a public speaker, clear and concise pronunciations are critical to ensuring your message is well received and clearly understood.
Anyone who’s ever attended one our workshops knows all about tongue twisters. They really are an excellent public speaking warm-up tool. Much like an athlete warms up his muscles with dynamic stretching, so too should you warm up the muscles in your jaw to relieve tension.
As you practice these tongue twisters, keep your jaw loose so the sound doesn’t get trapped in your mouth:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
Where’s the peck of pickled papers Peter Piper picked?
Betty Botter bought some butter
But she said the butter’s bitter
If I put it in my batter, will it make my batter bittter?
But if a bit of better butter will make my batter better
So ’twas better Better Botter bought a bit of better butter.
Do Your Vocal Exercises Every Day
Our final tip for warming up your voice for public speaking? Don’t ever skip a warm-up! If you have a presentation coming up, spend a few days ahead of time exercising your voice so it’s in prime public speaking condition. Always practice your speeches out loud, an spend at least 10 to 15 minutes warming up your voice ahead of your presentation.
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