Everyone knows them from their student days: the professor giving the lecture so thrilling that after minutes everyone falls asleep. I had one who, after a lukewarm greeting, dropped his head forward, looked rigidly at a book and read the contents to us in a monotonous voice. The head remained lowered that way until the end of class …
Admittedly, this is an extreme example, but it is intended to illustrate how strongly the way a lecture is presented determines whether its content gets across or gets lost by a suddenly occurring deep sleep.
Articulation includes gestures and facial expressions, but above all the voice itself. To help keeping your listeners following you as if spellbound during your next lecture, interview or video message, I have selected five exercises that are going to enable you to quickly improve your voice’s capacity.
Even if you are not just about to start giving an interview – a healthy, powerful voice boosts your charisma and assertiveness in your daily life! Do not let yourself be deterred by the fact that the exercises sometimes seem a little playful. I promise you, it is worth it.
Surely you have heard of it several times: When speaking, the sounds are caused by breathing. That is why bad breathing also causes a limited vocal potential. Do the following exercise: Stand relaxed. The head is straight, and the shoulders are hanging. Breathe in and out calmly without exertion. Remember that the lungs unfold in all directions around the body. It is best to imagine a swim ring that you try to push away with your breathing in all directions. After a while you breathe on every 3rd or 4th breath on the tones “ffff”, “ssss” or “sch” – evenly and without pressure, with the normal flow of breath. If you notice any tension somewhere in your body, let it go with every exhalation.
Hum like a bee
To warm up the vocal chords, there is this simple exercise: take a deep breath and hum like a bee with the exhalation and a long “ssssssssss” until you have no more air. You will notice that your speech apparatus feels much more mobile afterwards. To extend this exercise, you can imagine the bee sitting on a skateboard on a halfpipe and always rushing up and down: “ssssssSSSSSSSSSSssssssssssSSSSSSSSS”. Buzz with the arc that the bee moves up and down. This makes the vocal folds even more flexible and strong with regular exercise.
Smack for a melodious sound
This exercise is primarily about loosening the jaw so that the air can flow better and words can be formed more easily. Just imagine having a tasty meal in your mouth and chewing it with pleasure. You may also smack loudly and make noises of well-being (mmijam, mhm … you know what I am talking about). Chew the food extensively and very thoroughly. In addition, with this exercise you will also find your optimal speaking pitch, i.e. the pitch at which you will achieve an optimal voice sound with the least effort.
Tongue twisters set your voice in motion
In order to support the clear pronunciation and to declare war on the mumbling, I have an exercise with the well-known tongue twisters for you. Exercises with tongue twisters lead to the fact that you can pronounce consonants faster and more clearly. A good speech training offers the so-called “Ticke-Tacke-Exercise”:
Speak at normal volume “Ticke-tacke-ticke-tacke-tick-tock-tock”.
Repeat this tongue twister and gradually increase your speed. Again, it must feel good and relaxed.
Open your mouth!
Did you know that most of us don’t get our mouths wide open when talk? This is especially devastating with vowels like “a” or “e”. By using the cork trick, you automatically keep your mouth open and not just that; you’ll also get more feel for how your articulation tools work. Simply place a cork between your teeth. It is important that only a small piece of cork protrudes into the mouth. Check it with your tongue. It must still be able to move easily and comfortably. Then speak your prepared speech or your prepared interview answers; first slowly, then faster and also in different volumes. It is perfectly alright to bang your tongue against the cork. Be careful not to bite too hard, as this will tense the lower jaw and hinder relaxed speech. Then take the cork out of your mouth and speak your text again – do you feel the difference?
You can plan about 3 minutes for all exercises. Practice regularly – it is worth it and requires little effort.
All the best!
by Zarah Ziadi, mmpro editorial