Friday, June 24, 2011

Warm Up your Voice Part 2: Voice and Body

This is part two of the second of my Top Ten Public Speaking Basics

Again I should say that in my experience it is preferable to work with a qualified voice teacher if you want to develop the full potential of your voice.  The purpose of this article is not to give some "quick-fix" voice exercises to try once on your own to little effect, but rather to offer some guidance on warming up your voice in preparation for your next presentation or speech.

If you haven't already done so you can start with Warm Up your Voice Part 1: Breathing

After the breathing warm-up ...

Warm up your body
  • free shoulders with gentle shrugs up to ears and then relax
  • clench hands into fists, relax and gently shake out
  • gently shake out each leg and then your arms
  • give yourself a good upward stretch, arms above head, relax
Improve your posture
Have feet about hip-distance apart, distribute weight evenly over ball and heel of each foot.  If you are comfortable doing so, you can try going down onto your haunches, resting there for a moment and then rising smoothly upwards into standing without altering the distribution of weight on your feet.  This can give a good sense of rootedness through the feet into the floor.

Now lightly smooth down your lower back and buttocks with your hands, this allows you to slightly tuck in your pelvis without tensing your buttocks.

Now you can gently, lightly lengthen your spine upwards as it rises from your tail bone up through to your neck. Keep shoulders relaxed and falling away from your ears; chest relaxed, softened and open. 

If you were now to look at your self sideways in a full-length mirror you'd see your shoulder in line with your hip and your hip in line with the middle of your foot.

Face and jaw
  • stretch mouth open as wide as you can, hold for count of five, release. Repeat.
  • make exaggerated chewing movements using your whole mouth, tongue, lips as if chewing the biggest wad of gum ever!
  • yawn
  • voice on one breath, taken without strain: 'AH'
  • voice on one breath, taken without strain: 'HUMMMMMMM'
  • repeat on one breath, as above: 'LA LA LA LA LA'
  • repeat on one breath, as above: 'ME MAH MAY MORE, ME MAH MAY MORE'
  • say 'Bring me some coffee in a proper copper coffee pot'
  • say 'She sells sea shell on the sea shore'
  • say 'A packet of mixed biscuits'
  • say 'Quick, quick, quick! Bring the twins a drink!'
Back to breathing
  • Breathe out fully without force
  • Wait till you feel the need to inhale, as your ribs spring apart inhale through your nose
  • As you inhale allow your back to relax, note how your lower ribs float apart as your diaphragm contracts and moves downwards. Pay particular attention to the swing of the back ribs as you relax your back.
  • As exhalation happens, let the air move out of your mouth, note how your ribcage moves simultaneously downwards and inwards and how your abdominal muscles slightly engage as the last of the air moves out of your body
  • Continue breathing easily and comfortably in this way for five breaths.

You are now warmed up and READY TO GO!!!

Good luck with your presentation.