Last week, I worked with a client who was having trouble controlling and projecting his voice. While he had a deep voice with a low, appealing tone, it was a bit raspy and extremely monotone. He also complained that his throat “hurt” when he gave a long speech and that when he tried to speak up and project, his voice “gave out.” He said he practiced before each speech but it didn’t seem to help his vocal delivery. It was clear to me that one best practice he needed to add to his preparation regimen was “vocal warm ups.”
I explained to him how important it was to warm up the vocal chords. Not only does a good warm up protect the vocal chords, but it also strengthens vocal resonance, which is so important for delivering an effective presentation. He realized that with a little work and practice he could build his vocal stamina and protect his voice. As an added benefit, he could also build his professional presence and strengthen his credibility. So I’m happy to share a few vocal warm ups with you.
Here are ten cool exercises to warm up your vocal chords. They are really fun to do, so go ahead and get carried away.
- Take a deep breath in and yawn as big and wide as you can.
- Use your fingers to vigorously massage your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It is located at the top of your jaw on either side of your face above your cheekbones.
- Open your mouth as wide as you can and stretch your mouth and face from side to side. Try to stretch your whole face into each ear.
- Open your mouth wide and make circles with your lower jaw.
- Blow a “raspberry” for 3 seconds out, and then inhale for 2 seconds. Repeat a few times.
- Say consonants out loud (such as vvvvv, or mmmmm or ttttttt, bbbbb).
- Add a vowel to each consonant Veeeee, Meeeee, Teeeee, Beeeee, etc.
- Say out loud: Bumble, bumble, bumble, bumble, bumble, bumble beeeeeeeeeee.
- Place your hands on your belly, inhale deeply, and then exhale making a “huh, huh, huh” sound. Don’t force it. Use your belly and diaphragm to strengthen the sound.
- End with my favorite tongue twister: “Red Leather, yellow leather.” How many times can you say it clearly? Let me know how you do.
Okay, you may feel a little silly doing some of these exercises, but I promise they will help you. And besides, isn’t summer a great time for acting silly again? These exercises are working nicely for my client, and if you practice them frequently you will soon feel improvement too. So go ahead and knock yourself out. When you have strong vocal resonance, you’ll leave your audience speechless.