The communication process of your ideas is done through clear articulation of your speech. This requires the physical movement of the tongue, lips, jaw, in contact within your mouth, your teeth, and palate (roof of your mouth) to create distinct enunciation of your words. The connection of these speech organs depends on the air-stream through your throat, mouth and teeth for your message to be heard accurately.
The sound waves are altered by your speech muscles stopping or shaping the sound you hear, as either consonants or vowels.
For English consonants it’s your tongue tip touching your alveolar ridge (gum ridge behind your front teeth) to produce t, d, n; or the air streaming over your tongue to produce s, z sounds, or the many other consonant-combinations. The consonants give the edge to your words. Without this edge your sound comes out as if you are mumbling because you don’t open your mouth widely, or move your lips to define words with distinct m, p, b; or with lips and teeth contact, such as f and v.
The English vowels give resonance to your words and the consonants give them clarity. Listeners may hear what you say but they may not understand what you say if there is no clear combination of breath, consonants, and vowels.
Your breathing is a partner re-shaping to where you place your tongue in your mouth at the upper front, middle, back, arching it up, or dropping it down. The air is rushing to accommodate around your positioning to create your sound, words, phrases, and sentences.
The Link of Diaphragmatic Breathing process to your articulators is that it provides more flexibility and volume of air space and air pressure as it changes and travels through your lungs, chest, larynx (voice box), trachea, nasal and oral cavities to exit as clearly understood words.
Improve your diction to create presence when you speak, by avoiding to speaking too quickly, having a tight jaw or little mouth movement, and you’ll improve your speaking confidence.
If you would like some exercises including a few tongue twisters so you can train your articulators as if they doing gymnastics, take a look at Chapter Four on Articulate to Attract in “Breathing…Just Steps to Breathtaking Speeches” by Speech Coach, Brenda C. Smith.
Have you read the previous Blog# 1, 2 and 3 in this Series on How Diaphragmatic Breathing Is Linked to Your Voice?
Why do actors spend so much time devoted to voice and speech training; yet, so many public speakers and business entrepreneurs think it is not needed? The answer is quite simple: actors recognize that they are in the business using their voice and speech skills to generate income and art.
Most public speakers have not considered how valuable this training is; however, now is your time of enlightenment! You are about to discover how a well-trained voice will massively benefit your business.
The bottom line of your business is how effectively you use your voice. If you take the time to receive accurate training and coaching to improve your vocal quality, you will master the three key fundamentals: breath control, quality tones, and crystal enunciation. Your audience will be so attracted to your voice that they will clamber to hire you and your products.
The first actor's training fundamental is breath movement with your ribs. What a treat it is when you develop your diaphragmatic breathing method so that you have firm control of how to manipulate your breath and create sensitivity in your message. You will have the power of movement of every muscle working for your expression, and projection without ever having any shortness of breath or strain of delivery.
Secondly, your body is your instrument that needs care and tuning in order to emit the sounds that are the extension of what you want to achieve. Training shows you what to tune and how to tune it. A squeaky instrument turns a listener away, while a fully tuned one invites the audience to you while keeping them enraptured.
An actor learns how to manipulate his resonator cavities of the chest, pharynx, mouth, and nose to be flexible and produce well-rounded tones. Knowing these skills will give you the confidence to avoid muffled, throaty, or too nasal a sound. The individual configuration of size and shape of your resonators will affect your pitch, and musicality of tone. You will go from boring to dynamic with this training.
The third fundamental actor's voice training includes perfecting enunciation of consonants and vowels so every word has clarity of sound and meaning. Combine this with the correct pace and knowledge of where, when, and why to pause brings a hypnotic empathy to capture the audience's mind, heart, and spirit. The actor's training of voice for the public and business speaker is a combination of techniques that emote a compelling speech to create a connection and movement between you and your listener as you experience the energy together.
Don't become routine and lifeless; hone your voice and speech skills just as the actor does by taking the time to understand how your voice nuances work individually. Then practice until it becomes second nature.
This is not a quick-fix investment; but definitely well worth the effort and time, because you will encompass this knowledge and training skills for the rest of your life. If you are willing to invest in your business, then you need to invest in yourself; after all, your voice is your business.
Did you find this blog post helpful?
Our book "Breathe,,,Just Steps to Breathtaking Speeches" gives you "7 Steps to Putting Your Best Voice Forward: Discover the Techniques of Voice-Over Speakers, Actors, and Professional Presenters" This book is like having a voice-coach with you.
Your voice is your business; so let us show you how to leverage it today.
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On a recent webinar, I listened and watched a coach leading us into a relaxed state of finding our energy points and centering our focus. He really knew what he was doing, and his exercises were effective.
However, I found myself somewhat distracted by his high and quiet tone level that made him seem tense. It seemed to be out of sync with what his purpose and demonstrations were about. So, in today’s blog I want to address how to center your mind and vocal tone level.
To go from a high pitch level to a more natural comfortable level, you must be aware of two things.
First, take notice if your body stress is manifested in your neck and back shoulder areas. When this happens, it is common for your jaw and back of your throat to tighten, which can lead to your emitting vocal sounds through your nasal passage and less through your mouth or oral passage.
To remedy this, you must exercise your mind and focus on loosening the muscle tightness, and on directing the tone to escape through your mouth. The sounds that include: /m/, /n/, and /ng/ are English nasal sounds that which should resonate in your nasal passage; but all other sounds do not.
If these other sounds are nasal, then it could be a result of a lazy velum closing off close the passage of your mouth. Since the velum at the back of your throat is flexible, exercising this particular part of your mouth can strengthen its capacity to be more agile and close off your nasal passage from your unwanted nasal tones.
The second thing you should notice is where your breathing action is before you begin to speak or after pausing. Your breathing must initiate from under your rib cage by applying the diaphragm and intercostal muscles to act as a holding tank for your breath; and to allow your breath to move up and out through your mouth as you speak.
You can decide if you want to let your air escape slowly and gradually; or, if you wish to shoot the air out like an arrow flying up and out through your mouth. In either case, you will run out of breath at the end of this process; then you’ll need to take in more air.
The advantage of using your diaphragm for all this support is that it can hold more air than just using your upper chest area. Also, you will have greater control manipulating reserving some air, or letting it go quickly. This is all done with very little effort on your part. It’s your diaphragm that’s doing all the work.
Another benefit of using the diaphragm is to make your sound project louder and farther to your listeners’ ears. Your voice will be heard by all without your doing any shouting or straining of your vocal folds.
You might want to follow-up with recording yourself to assess whether your tone is misrepresenting your best voice to your listeners. If they can’t hear you, or are tuned out to you because your voice sounds nasal, monotone, or on a high pitch level; then check the basics to determine changing in your breathing method and your resonating process.
If you would like specific exercises to follow up on, you will find more in my book, "Breathe...Just Steps to Breathtaking Speeches" or simply contact me.
How can I relax when I'm so nervous about speaking in front of a group? This is a question that I'm always asked. The solution begins with your realization that you must be relaxed physically and mentally focused to be in control of "un-stressing" yourself.
Muscle relaxation of the throat and neck frees the voice from tension and produces a fully resonant vocal tone. Whole body muscle relaxation will also support your physical alignment with your vocal sound.
Replacing your nerve-wracking thoughts to positive ones will reinforce your energy and competency quality in front of an audience.
Now that you know you must start with relaxation techniques, here are a few exercises that you can implement today so that it becomes automatic, and you don't have to worry about it anymore.
Take control to rid your stress level by following the above steps until you can pass it forward to help someone else who may be stressed like you used to be.
Way to go!
Brenda C. Smith, Founder of Voice Power Training Services [retired] and Author, is a personal speech coach who brings her expertise and experience as a lifelong drama director and teacher to guide your transformation into becoming a presenter with vocal power and presence. http://www.brendacsmith.com
Speaking with clarity is one of the many concerns that a presenter needs to be conscious of, whether you are doing a speech, presenting a proposal or sales prompt, or having an interview. Most speakers are able to enunciate each word very clearly; but many tend to mumble, speak too quickly, or lack any energy which clouds the overall clarity of your speech.
Here are three questions to ask yourself, and the reasons why they are important to your communication skills.
1. Have you looked at yourself speaking in a mirror? If not, do so right now and look at your mouth. A mouth that is barely open is blocking your vocal sound from exiting your mouth so that your listener wouldn't be able to hear you clearly or loudly. It's as if you have put a lock on your door; in this case, it's your mouth, and you only opened it just enough to see who's knocking at your door. What are you afraid of when it comes to opening your mouth wider? I'm sure no one is going to see past your teeth to the back of your throat and down into your larynx.
Go ahead and give your jaw some exercises. Open your mouth wide, drop your chin and jaw to allow your sound out of the doorway to your speech. This allows you to stretch your lips, mouth, jaw, and tongue to be flexible, so that your words become exact and definitely, crystal clear for the listener.
To remedy this, you will have to make a conscious effort to slow down so your listeners can keep up with you, or you will have to exaggerate the enunciation of your initial and final consonant sounds.
For practice and to loosen your lips, simply repeat a tongue twister very carefully and deliberate; not too quickly. Here are a couple of my favourite tongue twisters:
3. Have you ever felt tired or bored with the whole process of speaking out? If you are not totally focused and into your topic, you will sound boring and that will make your audience bored too. Before you deliver your next presentation, think of it as if you are approaching a marathon race with all the excitement at the start line, and everyone cheering you on your way. You are motivated to show that you can do this; you are energized! Your mind can make or break the flow of your speech; so keep your motor running and enjoy the energy to surge you forward.
After your speech is all done, you can take credit for being the factor of making it the best speech you've done so far. Your speech receives your mental signal to be energized. You also get the feedback of delivering a satisfactory speech to be proud of.
It only takes a moment to get yourself in shape for your next presentation. So, go look in the mirror, record yourself, and mind-direct your energy to positive results; and you will have an amazing speech.
There are two available self-help guides written by Voice Coach, Brenda C. Smith that will lead you through the exercises to help remedy your challenges.
How long does it usually take to achieve improvement in voice quality?
This question was asked to me, so I thought I would post my answer for anyone else who may want to know.
Of course, the first answer is that it will depend on how much improvement is needed or wanted to begin with. If it is something that requires focusing to apply your breath support from the diaphragm, that can change the same day you begin to use it, and you can maintain that forever if you consciously apply it. This is similar to other problems of mumbling or speaking too quickly.
However, if a person has a nasal tone for example, originating from childhood, this is a habit that has to be re-trained so it will take longer to replace the former tone- an average of three months will usually make it ingrained as the new habit.
If the person has an actual physical or medical cause for the voice or speech sounds then a medical professional specializing in that, a speech pathologist would need to be consulted. Next, a speech coach can then work with that person.
The quality of sound and tone can have different applications whether it is speaking with a microphone or speaking live, in front of small or large groups. The quality of tone can also be perceived differently by a number of people – what you or I might think is a great tone, someone else may prefer something fuller, softer, lower; as there is no perfect voice.
The key to all of the above is to do a good initial assessment of the person wanting to improve and then address those issues effectively.
The quick answer is that improving the sound of the voice can be achieved by applying targeted vocal exercises, and keeping the voice fit and healthy, and using warm-ups regularly. This can be maintained over your lifetime.
There is a personal self-assessment checklist in "Breathe..Just Steps to Breathtaking Speeches" before you start the exercises that would address your needs.
Do you have a question? Leave it in the comments section below or contact me directly.
Has this ever happened to you?
You’ve prepared your speech, power point, and your presentation or your webinar, and you’re all set to go; but suddenly as you open your mouth to speak, you hear your voice crack; then you need to cough to try to regain some sort of composure and vocal strength. This totally throws you off and you spend most of the presentation sipping on water, racing through your speech, losing your breath and focus, while struggling through to finish.
The most likely reason for this happening is because you chose not to spend very much attention to the health and maintenance of your voice, which just happens to be the single most important instrument that you are using to convey your message or to make your business sale. The next time you prepare and rehearse your speech, also take time to warm-up your voice, and do it again just before you are about to speak.
Begin your warm-up with a relaxation exercise to release any muscle tension in your body. Stretch in all directions and loosen your shoulder, neck, and jaw muscles. Start at the top of the head and mentally work down to your toes to focus your mind on releasing any tightness that you feel.
Next, consciously let yourself use your diaphragm to control your breathing force. Warm-up your tone by humming so that the sound is resonated in your chest, pharynx, and mouth areas. Try letting the sounds, such as “AH” escape through an open mouth. Find your most comfortable pitch level, so you can control your pitch to avoid unexpected squeaks or tension creeping up on your sound.
Keeping voice fit includes avoiding drinks with caffeine, dairy products, or alcohol to avoid your vocal folds from drying out. They will adjust to how you as a speaker treat them. If you abuse them with unhealthy foods or with physical abuse, such as, yelling, shouting, and smoking; then they respond by protecting themselves and shutting down. The cure to revive them is complete rest and lots of water.
For the few minutes that it takes to do a vocal warm-up, it is certainly worth keeping your own health, and avoiding embarrassment when you do your next speech.
For a Vocal Warmup CLICK HERE
Has this ever happened to you?
No matter what age group you are in when you try to communicate your ideas orally no one seems to be listening to you. Here are three common scenarios.
You could be speaking at a low volume, mumbling while talking, speaking too rapidly, not projecting energetically enough, or sounding bored or tired. There is the off chance that they may not be interested in what you have to say.
Give yourself a quick Speech Checkup: stand in front of a mirror and speak to yourself as if you are talking to a friend about your day so far. While you are describing your details look at your mouth to determine if it is open as wide as the width of your thumb, and if your lips are barely moving or are they animated. That would be the first clue to the cause of people not being able to hear you.
Flexible mouth muscles will allow you to articulate your words clearly. Lazy mouth muscles: lips, tongue, teeth, and jaw cloud the sound and block it from exiting your mouth. Practice a few tongue twisters, such as, “The wagon wobbled wildly and widely,” to loosen up your speech muscles. Face the mirror while saying it so you can stretch your lips and drop your jaw. Do this exercise three times every morning and again throughout your day. Transition to exaggerating your mouth movements with a wider mouth as you speak normally.
As far as speaking too quickly, you can start resetting your pace to be slower by consciously being aware to take your time, so your words are not all rushed together; and your listener misses most of what you are saying.
If you use diaphragmatic breathing as your engine to your voice sound, then you can have more energy, and project or aim your sound beyond your listeners’ ears so that everyone hears you immediately and pays attention. No other breathing technique works as well for voice projection and variety in tone.
With a few speech and voice techniques you can overcome any scenario that tunes out your listeners. Instead, your next encounter will be heard with crystal clarity and interest. You will no longer feel left-out or feel like screaming!
Your message will be understood as you speak calmly and confidently. Give your speech muscles a workout to achieve a voice power makeover.
You’ll find more speech techniques, exercises, and warm-ups in our recommended book: “Breathe…Just Steps to Breathtaking Steps” on Amazon and FriesenPress written by Author, Brenda C. Smith, Speech and Drama Coach
Ask Alexa Skill " Alexa Open Speak Clearly Warmups".
An energetic voice tops any dreary monotone delivery. In your preparation phase of speaking with expressive communication it’s vital to have vocal projection, focus of mind, and variety of tone. Supporting your speech with more breath and your mind with more energetic images will excite your listeners to your content.
The Diaphragmatic Breathing process is the link to flex your energy levels as you weave through your presentation with points of passion connecting with your audience in a believable way.
First, follow through with diaphragmatic breathing exercises to project your vocal sound without shouting or further harming of your voice. By increasing your breath amount and directing it out to the farthest point of your listeners, you will be heard by all. It’s your diaphragmatic muscle that becomes your engine to amplify and to take the strain away from your throat.
Try this Call-your-Dog Exercise: Say, “Spike, come here!” as if he’s only a short distance from you.
Next, repeat “Spike, come here!” but this time Spike is outside, and you want him to come to you at the door. You need to take a bigger breath and aim your sound farther away.
However, Spike has run across the street so now you must take in more breath and manage to send your supporting air farther across the street. It’s your diaphragm not your throat to finally get him to come home. With practice, this technique becomes your automatic habit to projecting your voice.
Second, take control of your mind. Breathing with the diaphragm relaxes you more fully and signals your brain to pause and take control. As a strategy replace a negative thought with a positive one. Reinforce your thoughts with images of excitement, fun, or adventure. It’s like winning a huge lottery or getting that new promotion you wanted. Create a code word for yourself to trigger your mind to push your energy button on. Then energize your voice to match your mind and your body as you speak with vitality. Find the right balance of energy to produce your passion when needed.
You diaphragmatic breathing link will help clear your mind, relieve your tension, and allow for more energy to flow through your body and achieve a dynamic-sounding voice.
Replace your tired sound with an energetic one throughout your week as you speak to everyone.
For more exercises and benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing process take a look at Chapter Three on Energize to Express in “Breathing…Just Steps to Breathtaking Speeches” by Speech Coach, Brenda C. Smith. She has written an easy-to-follow book with targeted exercises from beginners to advanced levels including stories of successful participants.
Brenda leads you through how to breath with the diaphragm and project your voice in Chapter 1; and how to manage breathing to relax, and to achieve mind focus in Chapter 2; with how to energize your voice in Chapter 3 as a preparation technique to keeping expressive energy at the ready.
Have you read the previous Blog Series on How Diaphragmatic Breathing Is Linked to Your Voice?
Anxiety is a troubling feeling that most of us have experienced. One of the go-to-remedies is to take a few deep breaths so you can calm yourself and lessen your fear. Speaking is among the worst fears that people have. The link to your voice with fear and nervousness causes you to feel and sound not at your best. Breathing is a great tool to use.
However, did you know that shallow breathing in your upper chest area in which your shoulders rise quickly with each new breath, increases your anxiety and leads into a panic attack? Diaphragmatic breathing, on the other hand, allows for you to have more control to manage your nerves before and during your speaking activities.
The link to your voice through Diaphragmatic Breathing releases tension in your body muscles and your mind so you will not look or sound nervous but speak with confidence. If your body has tense muscles the pitch level of your voice goes higher and you have less volume to project your voice to be heard easily. Relaxed body muscles will slow and calm the breathing process together with relieving stress from your mind.
The benefits of diaphragmatic breathing will help you to keep a mental focus to balance relaxation and breathing to manage the flow of your speech. You will have a fuller and lower tone quality. Your voice mirrors your stress level. Make relaxation as your key priority and diaphragmatic breathing as your best strategy.
Try this easy warm-up to give yourself a head start to empower your speech with body, mind, and voice relaxation:
For more exercises and benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing process take a look at Chapter Two on Relaxation in “Breathing…Just Steps to Breathtaking Speeches” by Speech Coach, Brenda C. Smith.
Brenda leads you through taking the tension out of your muscles, visualizing your calming place, breathing with the diaphragm, and having a secret cue to avoid panic attacks and control your nerves. She has written an easy-to-follow book with targeted exercises from beginners to advanced levels including stories of successful participants.
Have you read the previous Blog Series on How Diaphragmatic Breathing Is Linked to Your Voice?
Brenda C. Smith