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Exercises to Warm up your Voice before a Speech

Exercises to Warm up your Voice before a Speech

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Understanding the Benefits of a Vocal Warm Up

A vocal warm up is an important part of maintaining a healthy voice. Whether you're a singer, an actor, a teacher, a salesperson, or someone preparing for a speech, a vocal warm up will help maximize your vocal performance. Just like any other muscle, your vocal muscles need to be prepped and warmed up for use. Through vocal warm up exercises, you can stretch the vocal folds, increase blood flow to the larynx and other areas, and reduce vocal fatigue and hoarseness.

What Does Vocal Warm Up Achieve?

A vocal warm up is essential for successful verbal communication. If you fail to properly warm up your vocal muscles, your words will lack the delivery and power necessary to grab your audience's attention. As with any physical activity, proper warm up can help prevent and reduce injuries. Similarly, a vocal warm up helps prepare and strengthen the muscles of the throat, mouth, larynx, and chest. This increases the quality of the sound made and allows the tone to flow more naturally.

Vocal Warm Up Exercises

It is essential to maintain proper posture while doing vocal warm up exercises. Relaxation and full range of motion in the body will help promote comfortably supported breathing. Here are a few warm up exercises to get your vocal muscles prepared for peak performance.

  • Jaw release: Place your palms on the sides of your face and massage the jaw and cheek muscles in circular motions. Then, with your palms still on your cheeks, lower and raise your jaw, making a light lip contact sound on the “m” and a slightly distorted sound on the “w”.
  • Lip trills: Place your lips loosely together and trill the sound by releasing air in a steady stream, first on an “h” sound and then on a “b” sound. Maintain the sound and keep the air moving. Then repeat the b-trill, slowly going up and down the scales.
  • Tongue trills: Lightly place your tongue tip behind your upper teeth and exhale while vibrating your tongue tip in a trill. Hold the sound steady and try to vary the pitch up and down the scale while trilling.
  • Two octave scales: Begin in a low pitch and slowly go up the scale on an “aa” sound. Don’t push the top or bottom of your range but do try to increase the range gently each time you do the scales. Repeat a few times, then reverse direction, going from chest to head and using other vowels.
  • Lip buzzing: Place your lips loosely together and vibrate them as you exhale. Keep your tongue relaxed. Repeat the inhaled yawn and vocalize as you trill your lips. Sweep up in pitch and then back down.
  • Humming: Place your lips gently together and exhale while humming. This will bring vibrations to the lips, teeth, and facial bones.

Breathing Exercises for Improved Voice

Begin with your lips lightly closed and your jaw released. Take an easy breath in and exhale while humming “hmmmm”. Then, halfway through the exhaled breath, change the “hmmmm�

Warming Up the Voice

To achieve proper vocal technique and extend your vocal range, it is important to pay close attention to the contractions of the abdominals and maintain relaxed upper airway. As your skill increases, make sure to increase the speed and repetitions of the exercises.

Low-flow Warm Up

Start with a good postural alignment with the shoulders in a low, relaxed position. At each breath, inhale slowly but make sure to not lock your shoulders. On the exhale, say "hello" slowly with little expelled air. Place your palm in front of your lips to feel the air that comes out. Do not try to control the pitch and experiment with changing the pitch while repeating the exercise.

Cool Down

After a strenuous vocal performance, never forget to include a vocal cool down. Gently hum the sound "m" and focus on the vibration and sound on your lips for a couple of minutes to reduce the tension.

Using Tongue Twisters for Articulation

Tongue twisters are a great way to warm up the tongue, lips, and mouth in addition to extending vocal range. Make sure to stay in the correct posture with full breath support, and do not add additional tension to the tongue, lips, jaw, or throat while saying them aloud. Varying the pitch is a good way to warm up, but remember not to remain confined to a narrow pitch range.

Breathing Exercises for Enhancing the Voice

When giving a presentation, it is necessary to breathe correctly to properly support the voice. Not taking deep breaths can lead to talking too quickly and sounding rushed, often due to increased nervousness. For better breathing, follow these steps:

  • Breathe deeply from the lower lungs, imagining a rubber ring around the waist area, the diaphragm
  • Breathe in by pushing outwards with the ring
  • Breathe in from the nose and out from the mouth
  • As you exhale, slowly make an “s” sound just like a hiss
  • Repeat the exercise by counting from 1 to 5 while exhaling and varying the pitch
  • In this position, avoid raising the shoulders while inhaling; keep them relaxed and level
  • Always remember to relax, as tension can affect the sound quality

For a better understanding of breath control, try lying down on the floor with your hands on your stomach. As you inhale, your hands will rise and when you exhale, they will lower. This will help you understand the correct way to breathe. Practicing breathing exercises regularly can help further improve your technique and increase lung capacity.

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