Not enough sleep, too much travel, a budding cold, or simply a lack of motivation? Your voice is a sensitive barometer that quickly gives away your physical and emotional state.
Yet, in the harsh reality of life we often need to sound engaged and convincing also when we are not on form. How can you work up some energy in your voice on the days when it does not come naturally? Here are four of my favorite ways to ignite the spark in just a few minutes:
Energizing your body and using movement is the one of the simplest ways to spice up your voice.
Before you speak: Swing your arms, shake loose, do jumping jacks, or push-ups against the wall. Go for a brisk walk or run up a flight of stairs.
While you speak: Use gestures. If you are standing, walk to different parts of the room or stage (with purpose, not just pacing nervously). If you are sitting, lean forward towards your speaking partner/s.
Solicit some support
Your vocal folds are tiny and fragile. Let your big support muscles do the hard work instead.
Sitting: Initiate the movement to stand up, but freeze just in the beginning of the movement. Notice which muscles are engaged (thighs, buttocks, abdominals, lower back and sides of your waist). Now engage these muscles voluntarily and say loudly e.g. “Hi, my name is NN.” Then slouch, relax and repeat the phrase, noticing the difference.
Standing: Imagine you are standing on a bus that is moving and shaking. You need to keep your balance – and you are squeezing an orange in each armpit (as one does). Notice all the muscles that get activated.
Mind the mask
For a strong and vibrant voice, let it resonate in “the mask” – the area around your nose and mouth.
Say “Mmmmmmm”. See if you can feel that buzz at the front of your face. That’s mask resonance. Say “Mmm-one, Mmm-two, Mmm-three” and let the vibrations carry over into the sounds following the M. Then practice full sentences, always starting on an Mmm and feeling the resonance in the mask: “Mmmm – It’s great to see you.”
Conquer the consonants
Strong consonants give definition, clarity, and energy to your speech.
Read any text exaggerating the plosive consonants p, t, k, b, d, and g (as in go). Make up your own nonsense phrase and say it fast giving your lips and tongue a real workout: “Peter Katy body goodie”.
Or play the Shakespearian insult game with an imaginary friend!by