Gary Genard's

Speak for Success!

"Be a voice not an echo." - Albert Einstein

Want Knock 'Em Dead Presentation Skills? — Use this "Power Warm-Up"!

Want to speak with greater clarity, power, and flexibility?

Your influence is riding on a lot more than the information you deliver to audiences. Your ability to engage, persuade, and inspire listeners—and to be memorable while doing it—depends as much on your delivery skills as your knowledge.

(To make your voice come vibrantly alive for your listeners, acquire the skills you need. Download my free cheat sheet"5 Key Tools of Vocal Dynamics.")

Nonverbal Communication Means Voice as Well as Body Language

What we’re talking about, of course, is nonverbal communication, or basically “everything else” apart from your content. When we hear that term, we mostly conjure up visual images, i.e., body language.

It’s true that gestures, movement, eye contact, facial expressions, and the use of space are all key elements of body language that audiences respond to strongly. But there’s another component of nonverbal communication that’s just as important: your voice.

Voice and Speech Improvement Are Essential to Achieving Charisma

Your voice is your most flexible, subtle, and fully expressive communication tool. And just like the rest of you in terms of, say, a track meet, your voice requires warming up. Just imagine an athlete driving for hours to get to a stadium, and immediately jumping out of the car to run the 1,500 meters!

So how can you get your vocal apparatus fully responsive quickly, so your voice can achieve its complete range of colorations and effects when you speak in public? (Click here if you want more on how to use your vocal tools to persuade others.) After all, with busy work, travel, meeting, and conference schedules, you won’t always have the luxury of a long lead-in time before you’re on.

The Two-Minute Vocal Warm-Up

The solution is below: a vocal warm-up that takes just two minutes. It covers three essential areas for achieving a powerful yet flexible voice: 

  1. Breathing with the diaphragm;
  2. Supporting the sound; and
  3. Warming up the articulators.

Breathing with the diaphragm: 

• Stand in a relaxed manner with your feet at shoulder width for stability. Close your eyes. Inhale slowly and deeply. Imagine your breath as energy and nourishment.

• Focus on your abdomen. Feel your belly move out when you inhale, and back in when you exhale. This is breathing fully using your diaphragm (though all breathing involves the diaphragm, this is what some people call diaphragmatic or natural breathing).

Supporting the sound:

• Breathe in slowly through your mouth, silently counting to five.  Hold the breath to a count of five; exhale to a count of five.  Do this three times.

• Using a comfortable pitch, gently produce the sound "ahh" to reach a point ten feet in front of you. Support the sound so it doesn’t waver, and be sure not to attack the initial vowel sound so it becomes harsh. Say two or three full sentences that are typical of your presentations, and be sure to sustain the supported sound to the end of each sentence.

Warming up the articulators:

• Now that you’re breathing properly and supporting and sustaining the sound, it’s time to get your articulators working. Using your fingers, massage your facial muscles as though they were made of rubber. Next, imagine that you’re chewing an enormous piece of gum, so that you really have to work those jaws!

• Stick your tongue out and rotate it in one direction, then the other. Blow your lips outward in a "horsey" sound.

  • Speak with exaggerated articulation. Say anything you like. Now say the same sentences use normal (yet crisp) articulation.

That’s it! You’re now a) breathing for power using good diaphragmatic action, b) controlling and sustaining your sound so you punch up important words, and c) speaking crisply with good articulation.

You’re ready to knock ‘em dead in whatever type of public speaking you’ll be doing!

You should follow me on Twitter here.

Dr. Gary Genard's free resource, Great Speaking? It's About Performance Over Content

Tags: public speaking training,presentation skills,Voice and Speech Improvement,communication skills,nonverbal communication,vocal warm-ups

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