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  • Writer's picturePaula Burton

A Quick Vocal Warm-Up for Public Speakers


- Adopt the power pose. Legs apart, arms stretched open in the air, making a V shape as they meet on either side of your head and stretch out.

- Walk in whatever space you can find, keeping your chin up, chest puffed, roll your shoulders back and down. Breathe - you now have space to inhale deeply. Imagine a scale of 1-10; 1 is Clark Kent and 10 is Superman. Move as Superman, stretch and strut.

- Be confident, smile, you are there to help the audience learn something. If you have nowhere to move go to the restroom and stand stretched inside a stall. Open that body.

There is thinking that if our minds can control our body language (nerves making the body tense and cause it to shrink), then is it possible that our body can affect our mood (standing tall can breed confidence in ourselves), and in turn how others perceive us.

- You should aim to be a 6 onstage, and in theory that's only one more than your everyday 5.

- Shoulders back but down - we do not want our chest puffed out when we are up there.

- Walk with confidence, but don't go for the full on Superman stride.

- Imagine a piece of string pulling from the crown of your head, lifting you, correcting your posture. Knees slightly bent, bottom tucked under, no pelvic thrusts.

-Be you. Be authentic.


· Sit forward in a chair and let your stomach muscles relax.

· Breathe in through your nose and imagine that you are a vessel filling up with air as you would pour water into a vase. Fill up your abdomen first, then your lower ribs (you should feel them expand) and then all the way up to your chin.

· Hold this breath for a count of ten.

· Now exhale slowly. As you exhale, keep your ribs expanded and tighten your abdomen as you would if you were doing a “crunch”—that is, the lower abdominal muscles should come in first as though you were pushing a popsicle up its plastic covering. (Since you are not a popsicle, keep your chest up as you exhale.)

· Repeat.

Once you have mastered the exercise sitting down, practice incorporating it into your speaking and singing. You may need to do it slowly at first until you can coordinate all the actions smoothly.


Relaxing your jaw

· Open the mouth, massaging the cheeks with your thumbs where the jaw splits. Massage for 30 seconds, or until you feel the pain subside.

Should feel like massaging a knot in your back. This will feel good for those that grind your teeth.

Stretching the face:

· Pumpkin Face/Raisin Face – stretch your face as wide as pumpkin, then scrunch it up like a raisin. Repeat x 10.

Strengthening your tongue

· Sticking out your tongue as far as you can and holding it out there for 30 seconds. Relax it. Then repeat.

Your tongue is one of the strongest muscles in your body for muscle memory, so it is important to give it a workout; this is the reason you are always encouraged to practice aloud. If your brain goes blank onstage, there's a good chance your mouth will keep moving thanks to the tongue's muscle memory.

Breathe deeply and exhale on a hisssssssing sound. Repeat 10 times.

Say “Mm-mmm (as in yummy) Mmm-hmm (like yes)” Repeat 5 times.

This develops mask resonance, which creates a clean and vibrant sound by creating a clean approximation of the cords and a resonance that will sound great and project easily.

Say “Mm-mmm. Mmm-hmm.” up and down your vocal range, from low to middle to high and back again, 10 times.

Raise your volume a bit and say “Mmmmmmmmy name is…” Repeat ten times up and down your vocal range.

This enhances vocal flexibility and coordination.

Say “Ney, ney, ney, ney, ney” loudly but without yelling 10 times up and down your vocal range.

This is more mask resonance training (nasal and mouth resonance)

Starting at mid-range, make a siren sound with Oooo and Eeeee by sliding down your vocal range several times, starting higher each time.

Again, the focus here is on more flexibility and coordination.

Say “Mmmmmmm” until you feel a buzzy sensation in the front of your face. Repeat 5 times.

Now, for isolation of muscles for articulation, try some tongue twisters like those below. You can increase your speed over time:

· Red lorry/yellow lorry x 10

· A proper cup of coffee in a proper copper coffee pot x 10

· Unique New York x10

To bring it all together, speak a few sentences out loud. Use an opening or closing of a talk, a favorite poem or long quote, or song lyrics.

End with 5 more big, deep breaths.

Now, knock it out of the park.


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