5 Vocal Warm Ups to Help You Deliver That Perfect Speech

Advice on vocal warm ups for singers, presenters and voice actors abounds, but did you know that vocal exercises are really useful in everyday life too?

I’ve been a voiceover artist for over 20 years now and have learnt a whole host of voice warm ups, and am happy to share some of my favourite techniques with you.

Whether you’re about to give a presentation for work or have an important meeting or interview coming up; you’re preparing to accept an award, or you’ve got an aural assessment coming up at college or uni, knowing how to warm up your voice won’t just ensure you sound your best, it will help boost your confidence too, helping you deliver that perfect pitch.

Why are voice warm ups so important when giving a speech?

Vocal muscles are just like any other muscle in the body, which means they need warming up to function at their best. Vocal warmups are vital for anyone who is relying on delivering a clear, confident and engaging speech, presentation or talk. Even if you’re preparing for a job interview or about to pitch to a new client or investor, voice warm ups really can help make you sound self-assured, even if you’re trembling inside.

Voice exercises help to balance the air pressure around your vocal chords, allowing you to hit a far wider range of pitches and tones without your voice cracking or sounding shaky. Just as you would never workout without warming up for fear of injury or long term muscle damage, so you should warm up your vocal chords for exactly the same reasons. Even a short vocal warm up will improve the performance of the individual muscles of the chest, larynx, throat and mouth, producing a more natural flow to your speech and smoothing your tone for better engagement with your audience.

Singers, actors, presenters and voiceover artists all swear by vocal warm ups to ensure they sound their very best. So why not take a leaf out of their book? In just a few short steps you could be honing your voice and sounding more poised and powerful when you need it most.

Simple vocal exercises to help you prepare for your next big meeting

Here are some straightforward voice exercises you can try ahead of your next presentation or meeting.

Step 1: Loosen up and relax

It is essential that when you are doing your vocal warmups, you pay attention to your posture, and relax your body. Not only will this steady your voice, it will also ease your mind.

Try wiggling your shoulders and softening your neck. Take a few deep belly breaths too. All of this will shake out any excess nervousness, preventing you from feeling anxious and your voice coming over strained.

A great way to eliminate pent up anxiety around your chest and shoulders is to imagine you are a librarian at work, and let out a great big “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!” Do this a few times, remembering to keep your shoulders relaxed throughout.

Step 2: Release your jaw

To help boost range of movement, it’s so important to release tension around the mouth and jaw before you embark on giving any sort of speech.

Gently massage your jaw and cheeks with small, circular motions. Whilst doing so, lower and raise your jaw. Now add a ‘mama-mama’ into the exercise and, once you’ve done a few of those, you can move on to ‘wawa-wawa’. Now that jaw should be nice and loose, and you can progress to the next exercise.

Step 3: Try some tongue trills

If you didn’t have enough fun with the last vocal warmup exercise, this next one is sure to lighten your mood ahead of your presentation!

A loose tongue is just as important as a loosened jaw when giving a speech. Tongue trills are ideal for helping with this, and will also engage your breathing and voice too.

Lightly place the tip of your tongue behind your upper teeth. Take a deep breath, then exhale whilst letting your tongue vibrate through a rolled ‘r’ sound. Do that for as long as you feel comfortable, then start moving up and down in pitch whilst trilling.

Step 4: Have a go at humming

Humming is one of the most common vocal warm ups, helping to warm up your mouth and vocal chords. Humming causes vibrations which loosen the vocal chords, particularly important if you are speaking first thing in the morning.

Let out one but “Hmmmmmmmm” and hold it for as long as you can. Then switch to “ahhhhhhhh”, alternating between the two. Try loosening your lips and mouth as you hum so you are not pursing your lips. Keep your cheeks and jaw loose too.

Now take the pitch of your hum up and down. Repeat five times.

Step 5: Recite a tongue twister

There’s no better way to improve pronunciation and fluency than to recite a few tongue twisters.

Whether it’s Peter Piper and his pickled pepper, Betty Botter and her bit of butter, Susie in her shoeshine shop or the good old wood-chucking woodchuck, any tongue twister will help you sound clearer and more confident. And they’re good fun too!

So there you have it, now you should be all warmed up ready to deliver that pitch-perfect speech. Good luck!

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