The voice is no different to any other part of your body. To use it properly, you need to understand how to get the best out of it and then ensure that the muscles required are doing their job.
Whether you are using COMMUNICATION to reach a potential client on the phone, INFORMING an audience about your business when PUBLIC SPEAKING or MOTIVATING your team at a weekly briefing, you need your SPEAKING MUSCLES.
On order of usage, here they are:
- Abdominal press
- Intercostals (between the ribs)
- Vocal Cords (sometimes called folds)
So let me give you some tips on how to keep them strong.
We start at the beginning with the all important BREATH. This is where the power comes from for the SOUND of your voice. Check whether you breathe frequently. If you do, you will probably breathe shallowly and you will not be able to project your voice. Shallow breathers tend to be too quiet in some BUSINESS situations like NETWORKING.
To produce an engaging sound BLOW UP YOUR CHEST BALLOON. Let me explain this step by step:
- Imagine air is entering the lungs at stomach level, (obviously this is not ACTUALLY happening!)
- Allow the stomach to relax out a little.
- Imagine air spreading up your chest and expand the ribs upwards and outwards (using the intercostal muscles) This will push the diaphragm down and free the lungs to fill.
To strengthen the muscles in this part of the body, practice the action whenever you can – driving is ideal. You can then develop more power by humming (feel the lips vibrate) and throwing the voice forward at passing lamp posts!
This release should be from an open throat with no tension. Give it a try if your habit is to speak quietly.
If the breath stream is strong, the VOCAL CORDS have an easy job. When they vibrate against the air they produce a strong note.
The last part of the voice’s journey is when the note is turned into speech in the mouth.
The strength of the LIPS and TONGUE will impact on your ability to make all your words AUDIBLE and CLEAR.
Science tells us that when we hear well projected, precise speech, we subconsciously associate that with a CONFIDENT, WELL EDUCATED speaker.
To strengthen the tongue:
- Stretch up towards the nose and down to the chin 10 times slowly.
- Circle the tongue around the teeth with the lips closed – left x 4, right x 4, left x 2, right x 2.
- Try any simple tongue-twisters. T & D are especially good.
- With an open mouth, take a good breath and say “la la la” etc until you run out. Make sure the tongue is working hard through the whole breath.
These exercises do not take much time. If you can find 10 minutes a day you can build your SPEAKING MUSCLES.
Communication is a vitally important part of BUSINESS. It doesn’t matter whether it takes place between 2 individuals or a speaker and an audience of hundreds.
This week, make sure all your speaking has a bit more MUSCLE!
In the meantime………
Speak Loud & Clear!