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3 Wonderful Ways for Warming Up


Claudia W. Brogan

Often overlooked, a few warm-up techniques can make a strong and colorful impact on the way your next presentation goes.

Common sense tells us that it’s not wise to head for a run without stretching and warming up. Just like runners who stretch their calves and rotate their hips, public speakers can benefit from doing intentional warm-ups. I have learned from my own experience that when I go into a speech “cold,” I can really tell a difference in the ease of delivery and, truthfully, the effectiveness as well. So the next time you prepare to speak, whether it’s an important phone call, a presentation at your workplace, or a speech to deliver at your next Toastmasters club, here are 3 smart ways to “stretch” your own best physical tools for delivery.

Face Warm-Ups

Find a quiet place before you speak and do slow movements of your face, jaw, lips. (This is the one part of your speech that you don’t necessarily want to have an audience for!) Open your mouth slowly and widely; from firmly closed to all the way open, move your mouth and tongue. Slowly bring your chin to your chest, then move your head slowly up and backward to loosen your neck and head. As you do, you’ll feel mobile, you’ll feel more limber. With care, turn your head to the right, then back to the center, then to the left. Then for fun, open your eyes as widely as you can (practice different facial movements like “surprise!” and disappointment, joyfulness and worry).

These exercises focus on what’s called your “Articulators,” the physical parts of your face that help speaking go well, including your lips, tongue, jaw. It’s not often that we stop to think about these parts — but doing so can make a big difference.

Voice Warm-Ups

In this article, http://voiceguy.ca/the-warm-up-series/the-speech-warm-up-series, dialect and speech coach Eric Armstrong (nicknamed “The Voice Guy”) offers some specific tips and a short training course on voice development. This may be of special interest for those interested in learning more about ways that strengthen their voice skills, or even for those who’ve never heard about “what an articulator is” or thought about how to strengthen their voice muscles.

As it turns out, singing is good for us speakers … whether we are good singers or not! Humming and shower-singing, even delivering our own rendition of the “Do-Re-Mi Song” from The Sound of Music will help vocal chords and mouth muscles warm up. We can even make up new tune combinations as we “voice the vowels” and work from quiet “Ay – Ee — Eye –Oh – U” practice to louder versions. As we do, we’ll feel the strength and good deep breaths of our own voice as our best expression.

Body Warm-Ups

Giving a good speech involves your whole self. Taking a little time (in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed), wake up your body-parts that can help you express yourself well. Find comfortable, natural movements that will get your blood flowing. Roll shoulders up and forward, then slowly rotate and move them backwards. With hands on hips, slowly turn in a circular motion to the right, then to the left.

Sit and rotate feet, rolling them sideways and upwards, noticing the limbering of legs as your foundation. Raise each leg one at a time, awaking the leg muscles.

Hold hands out in front of you and slowly open hands wide, moving each finger, curving each one and gently bending each finger’s joint to “wake up” the hands. These hands can serve a speaker well, giving graceful expressive gestures and bringing speeches to life.

In my own experience, when I have remembered to take the time to do a few Wonderful Ways to Warm Up, I truly noticed a difference in clarity and a sense of feeling calm and prepared. I found that I moved more naturally in the speaking area, or that I felt solidly balanced when beginning a phone discussion.

Each of these good tips — as well as ones that we naturally invent for ourselves — can help us

And as a Word to the Wise: each of these tips for smart speakers can actually serve well as helpful ways to stay alert and attentive when you’re driving. Try these out and feel free to make up your own: getting the blood flowing, vocalizing, and facial expressions can all help keep the body and mind alert. For those who are bashful about it, make sure that no other drivers can see you as you do these!

Claudia Brogan is a speaker, trainer and facilitator who helps organizations by coaching presenters, leading collaborative meetings and problem-solving with groups and teams. Reach out to see how she can help you. Contact Claudia via email at claudiabrogan @ gmail.com, through LinkedIn, or by phone at 404-849-5182.