03 Feb Do you have vocal charisma?
Some people stand out when they present because their voice is like liquid chocolate. As an executive coach on persuasive presenting in business I frequently observe that those people with fantastic voices are more likely to get what they want. In our society we do tend to associate credibility and authority with people who have a rich resonant vocal quality.
If fact, many of us know someone who has a strong, rich, resonant voice. Maybe it’s an actor like Sean Connery, or a radio personality like John Laws. And at some point you may have found yourself wishing that you could enhance your vocal quality and projection so you were more compelling, influential and persuasive in your life.
Well you know it’s possible and it’s easy to have the voice of your dreams! It’s my experience with the many executives I have coached, that creating a rich, resonant, influential voice is a very rewarding journey.
I worked with a new client this week who was a very intelligent and attractive looking person, beautifully dressed and with an open, warm demeanour, and then they spoke to me! Oh my goodness – this person’s voice was like my cat on heat! A loud screeching sound that stayed with me for quite some hours after our session was over. I couldn’t help thinking how rewarding it would be for this person to recreate their identity by working on the power and resonance of their voice.
So how do you create a powerful, resonant voice?
Well, there’s a whole lot you need to know to have the voice of your dreams. This blog is a start.
Today in this blog post….
We are going to cover my favourite steps for exceptional vocals – they are the ones that I have seen work time and time again in my own speaking career, and with my many hundreds of clients in training and mentoring programs over the years.
So what’s the secret?
It’s all in the warm-up. If an athlete competed without first warming up, you’d expect two things to happen. Firstly they wouldn’t perform at their best, and secondly they might injure themselves.
It’s the same for you as a communicator or presenter. The voice is a powerful tool that must be warmed up to ensure you perform at your best and so you don’t injure yourself. Exceptional presenters and key note speakers warm up their voice.
So, let’s get to work on 5 main areas you can warm up. They are:
The Body; The Breath; The Power; The Vocal Quality; and The Articulation
Your voice is a reflection of your entire physical and mental being. Tensions in your body restrict your ability to use your voice effectively. There are two exercises you can do to warm up your body: I call them the ‘tense and relax’, and the ‘stretch’ .
Tense and relax Research shows that if you tense and relax various body areas twice in quick succession it releases the tension from that body area. To do this, stand up and one tense and relax one body area at a time. Start with your hands, then feet, calf, thighs, bums, stomachs, pectorals, shoulders, face. Do this twice through in quick succession
Stretch Place your left arm above you, stretch over the right side of your body to expand the left side of your ribcage. Place your right hand on your left side, now breathe – right down to your bum – you know what I mean? Breath so deeply into your body it feels like the breathe is going into your bottom! Feel the ribs open on the stretched left side. Then swap to the other side. Take your right arm and place it over your head, then stretch it over to the left side so you expand the right side of your ribcage. Place your left hand on your right side – now breathe deeply again. Fantastic!
Breath and Power
Most adults have forgotten how to breathe correctly. Children know how to breathe instinctively and use it to really scream when they want to. Most of us have unlearned our perfect breathing.
Correct breathing is fundamental to voice. A strong voice requires lots of constant air from the lungs to maintain the sub glottic pressure on the vocal cords – and if you are a presenter it has the other awesome result of helping you feel energised and relaxed.
There are many exercises you can do, many of them explained in a practical way in my CD. The easiest one to do is to place your thumb on belly button and the rest of the hand over your belly – if you are not driving, place the other hand on to your upper chest – the boney part of your chest just under your neck. Visualise a plunger going to down into the lower abdomen on the ‘in’ breathe and the plunger rising back up again on the ‘out’ breath.
This is what you may know as tone or resonance – it’s the depth of your voice – and you know, we associate authority with people who have a rich, resonant vocal quality.
Yawn To warm up your tone you need to yawn. Forget the manners you were taught by your mother – when I say yawn I don’t mean a polite little yawn with your lips together and hand across your mouth – I mean YAWN! Big open mouth – you want the air to come out unobstructed so you have an authentic sound and we hear the real YOU! Allow your tongue to touch the back of your bottom front teeth – then move into a sigh.
Hum The second thing you can do is hummmmmm. The thing to focus on when you humm is the vibrations caused. Take a good deep breath and then direct the humm to the front of your mouth -if your lips and nose start to tickle, you know you’re on the right track. The key to this is to create lots of space inside your mouth. The roof of your mouth should be raised and not touching your tongue. In turn, try sending the vibrations to the top of your head, the back of your neck, and to your upper chest, and put your hands on these spots to see if they are actually vibrating. Once you’ve mastered those areas, try sending vibrations into your lower belly, arms, legs and even feet. You’ll find the more relaxed you are, the further the vibrations will go.
Articulation is the crispness and clarity of your words. Clear, crisp articulation is possible when you warm up your tongue, lips and face.
Jaw relaxation : Having a relaxed jaw is incredibly important for great articulation, so try this when you’re stopped in traffic and can relax for a minute or two. Breathe through your mouth and just let your lower jaw drop open. It’s a bit of a dead-fish look I know, and it is worth it in the end. You’ll probably feel your jaw doesn’t want to open too far because it’s full of tension. With each ‘out’ breath, just imagine that the tension is leaving your jaw so that it can drop down just one more millimetre. Don’t force it now. Just really picture your jaw going on a lazy holiday and getting heavier with each out-breath. After a few minutes your mouth will be open enough to fit two fingers in there sideways. If not, just keep breathing and relaxing till it does.
Kiss/grin : Kiss your lips in a pout – stick the lips right out in front of you. Go on! Pucker up! Now grin – stretch your lips into a cheesy grin, showing all your teeth and feel your cheeks almost touch your eyes. Repeat this over and over again! By the way, if you have no confidence to smile due to teeth problems, have an appointment with the best palos verdes dentists right away. Losing your ability to chew food properly can potentially stop you from enjoying a huge part of your life. Greenville SC Emergency Dentist provides you with free and impartial advice on a whole range of topics relating to your oral health.
Pea/Orange: Make your lips into a green pea – you know the little green vegetable? Purse your lips together and make the opening at the tips of your lips into the shape of a pea. Then, with a surprised face, make the shape of an orange. So your lips are going from tensed together in a pout to a big open round shape. Do this 5 times and really exaggerate!
Horse neigh : Neigh like a horse! What more say I say?
Tongue in cheek : Place your tongue against the inside of your left cheek and say: ‘I am an amazing presenter with beautiful vocal quality and commanding stage presence’. Then, swap and do it three times with your tongue in the other cheek.
If you’d like to check how well you are warmed up consider trying a variety of tongue twisters. Tongue twisters are another effective way to warm up your articulation and to test your degree of vocal ‘warmth’. Especially if you do the tongue twisters that have a mix of different consonants and vowel combinations like p/c, k/d, and b/k/d.
Tongue Twisters : A proper cup of Yes Coffee in a proper copper coffee cup! I need unique New York, but does unique new york need me? Rush the washing Russell, Rush the washing Russell. The bootblack brought the black boot back Lift the ladder later, lisped Lester, Lester lisped, lift the ladder later.
So please do these warm ups before a sales meeting, internal presentation or any other important event where you need to sound credible and authoritative. Warm ups help to create the rich resonant voice within you. If you don’t warm up, you may harm yourself or at least not perform at your best. If you do warm up, you’ll come across as credible and persuasive and be more likely to get what you want. The effects of the warm-up last about an hour. So get cracking and do the exercises in the bathroom, the car, or take my tip – I often find a private room, somewhere far from the conference room at the hotel where I’m presenting a keynote speech and I do all these exercises. I urge you to do the same. How exciting! I wish you every success with your presentations.
It’s been my pleasure to help you achieve vocal success. It’s time to be heard!
Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best selling internationally published author (Wiley), editor of How to Present magazine, producer of Michelle Bowden TV, and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. Sign up for Michelle’s FREE How to Present magazine TODAY http://michellebowden.com.au