In presentations, your voice is your greatest tool. It’s important that you’re heard to the very back of the room. If you’re addressing a large group of people, you might be tempted to strain your voice to make it louder. However, this could damage your vocal chords over time.
Even with a microphone, you still have to constantly enunciate your words. The best way to protect your best presentation tool is through vocal warm-ups.
Aside from the health benefits, vocal warm-ups can also help you from stuttering or stumbling over words.
Releasing tension and practicing good breathing
The trick to maximizing your voice for public speaking is relaxation and good breathing. Start your vocal warm-ups by relaxing your body. Stand in a place where there’s plenty of room for you to move. Release any tension in your body by doing some stretching.
Do the following exercises, repeating each for at least two to three times:
- Slowly bend your head forward, bringing your chin close to your chest. Hold the position for around 10 seconds. Next, gently bend your head backward so you can see the ceiling. Again, hold for 10 seconds.
- Turn your head to the right, hold the position for 10 seconds. Slowly turn back to your starting position and then turn to your left, again holding for 10 seconds. Make sure you’re looking over you shoulders when you do this exercise.
- Bend your neck slowly, bringing your ear as close to your right shoulder as possible. When you start to feel a stretch, stop and hold the position for 10 seconds. Do the same thing on your left side.
Shoulders and back
- Stand straight with your arms on your side. Bend to you side so that one of your shoulders lower and the other one rises. Hold the position for 10 seconds and do the same thing on the opposite side. Repeat the exercise two more times.
- Lock your fingers together. With your palms out, stretch your arms over your head and hold for 10 seconds. After that, stretch your arms in front of you and hold for 10 seconds. Continue the exercise by bend forward slight, while still keep your back straight. Stretch your arms to your back in the same way as before and hold for 10 seconds.
- Position your arms like you’re giving yourself a big hug. Try to make your hands meet as much as possible and hold the position for 10 seconds. After you release, bend one arm over you shoulder and then reach for your hand using the other arm coming from below your back. Try to grasp for your fingers if you can and hold for another 10 seconds.
- .Lastly, stretch your triceps by bending an arm over your shoulder and press gently on your elbow. Hold for ten seconds and do the same thing in the opposite direction.
Arms and legs
- Stretch your arms above your head and in front of you, holding each position for 10 seconds. Shake your arms for a while, as well. Do the same for your legs by shifting your weight to one and shaking off the other. After that, try to do some quick jumping jacks and jump in place, as well.
After you’ve released the tension in your body, you should also try to relax your facial muscles. Massage your cheeks and scrunch up your face. Open your mouth widely to release tension in your jaw. Once you feel completely relaxed, you can start practicing your breathing. Stand straight with your feet apart, making sure they’re aligned with your shoulders. Place a hand on your stomach.
As you inhale, you should be able to feel your diaphragm rising. When you exhale, notice how your diaphragm expands. Keep breathing in and out, making sure your diaphragm is doing what it’s supposed to. After a while, try letting out a loud noise (like a “HAH!”) as you exhale.
After you’ve successfully relaxed your body and practice your breathing, you can do vocal warm-ups. Similar to what you did when practicing your breathing, remember to unite your voice with your breathing to ensure that you’re using your diaphragm.
The first thing you can try is sounding out your vowels. Breathe in and sound out the different vowels as you exhale.Your next vocal warm-up is to sound out consonants. Try humming and letting the vibrations of the sound you make reverberate through your body. Let your body relax once more by shaking your limbs. Lastly, practice your articulation with some tongue twisters.
There you have it! Make sure you practice these vocal warm-ups to get you prepped for your next presentation.
Featured Image: Harry via Flickr