How to warm up your voice: 8 key exercises
Warm-up exercises aren’t just for singers! Your voice is one of the most powerful tools you have communicating confidently. Learning how to exercising, protect and warm up your voice will help you speak with authority and clarity.
Knowing what we want to say is only half of the battle. Research suggests that our words make up only 7% of the impact of our communication. The majority (93%) comes from the tone of our voice and our body language. Learning how to take prepare and protect your voice could make you a more persuasive and confident communicator.
As powerful a tool the voice is, it is also incredibly delicate. It can be damaged surprisingly easily and once compromised it is often difficult to repair. In this blog, we’ll run through some top tips for exercising your voice and preventing injury that could impact your communication skills.
How the voice works
Before you go into exercises to warm up your voice, it is useful for us to begin with a rundown of how the voice works. There’s more to it than you may think! Understanding the complex process our bodies go through when speaking helps to understand why protecting and warming up our voice is so important.
The production of sound from our voice comes from four separate functions working together:
- The Excitor: The force that directs the air from lungs to breath which is essential to producing sound
- The Vibrator: The motion that the force produces on the vocal cords that produce the note. The Vibrator resists the force from the Excitor to produce sound.
- The Medium: The exhaled air on which the sound is carried.
- The Resonator: The actions within the throat, mouth and nose which form the words.
Top exercises to warm up your voice
The most common causes of vocal damage come from stress, poor posture, overuse, incorrect use and lack of preparation. You can avoid this using the below exercises to help warm up your voice.
Being aware of how you can take steps to protect your voice in your day-to-day life and before speaking can prevent you from causing damage from overexertion.
Maintain good posture
A poor posture can place stress or tension on your vocal apparatus.
Exercises that relax the body will also help reduce the strain that can lead to a vocal injury. Breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness will not only relax your body but help your voice flow more naturally.
Speaking, unlike singing, requires shallow intakes of breath into the chest. This is known as thoracic breathing. Focussing on shallow breathing rather than deep breathing will protect your voice from excess force.
If you’re about to speak for a prolonged period – perhaps for a pitch or presentation – it is important to warm up your vocal cords. Humming is a great way to get your vocal cords ready.
Move your jaw in different directions to warm up the facial muscles before a presentation or pitch. This will help improve your diction and enunciation.
Exercises such as ‘tongue touching’ can be beneficial to your vocal clarity and pronunciation.
Vocal onset exercises
Onsets are how we begin a sound. This is the same as how we often see singers warming up: the repetition of a certain sound such as ‘ee’. This warms up our diaphragm and helps us with our tone.
Tongue twisters, poems – even reciting your favourite song lyrics – in a clear, concentrated way will help you produce clarity in your voice.
Signs of vocal injury
Performing the above exercises regularly will help in preventing vocal damage – but even professional singers and public speakers who warm up religiously can fall victim to injury.
Damage such as nodules on the vocal cords can be a serious risk. At best, it requires several days of vocal rest to recover. At worst, it could involve surgery to repair.
If you notice any of the below symptoms of vocal damage, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
- Sore throat: This could either be constant or any occurring that is not linked to a cold or virus.
- Coughing: A regular throaty or clearing cough could be a sign of vocal damage.
- Change in tone: Sometimes people call this a ‘sexy’ tone. That it may be, but consult your doctor. It could be a vocal injury!
- Hoarseness: A hoarse tone to your voice or constant dryness in your throat.
- Loss of voice: Visit your doctor immediately if you’ve lost your voice. This is a worrying sign.
Improve your communication skills
At The Speaking Clinic, we can help you. If you’d like to gain the skills you need to communicate with confidence and authority, feel free to book a no-obligation consultation with our expert trainers.
To download our Top Ten Tips on Confident Speaking and A Comprehensive List of Questions to Communicate Efficiently guidance documents, visit our Resources Hub.