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Putting Your Best Voice Forward

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Putting Your Best Voice Forward BLOG

An ongoing series of informational entries

Open the Door to Clarity of Speech

Brenda C. Smith | Diamond Author www.Ezines.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.


So, 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. If you are a "tight-jawed" speaker, repeat the words "jaw" and "wow" five times each day as a warm-up exercise to loosen you jaw. Then go through the rest of the day being conscious of opening your mouth wider.


2. Have you recorded yourself as you speak and listened to it critically? If you are speaking too quickly, or if your lips barely move, then you are mumbling your sentences while speaking, and most of your listeners are only catching a portion of your speech. In everyday conversation, they will often ask you to repeat yourself. By listening to yourself from your recording, check out where you are running words together so quickly that the first part of the next word is clipped, too quiet, or not understandable. 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: The wagon wobbled wildly and widely; and A big black bug, bit a big black bear. This will help your overall speech improve with flexible speech muscles when you deliver your final speech.


3. Have you ever felt tired or bored with the whole process of speaking out? If you are not totally focussed 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.

F.A.Q. Voice Quality Timeline

- Brenda C. Smith

How long does it usually take to achieve a significant improvement in voice quality and keep it?

This is a question that 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.

Do you have a question? Contact Us Here

Help! My Voice Gave Out On Me

 - Brenda C. Smith

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 your focus as you struggle through it to the end.


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 complete vocal routine Click Here

Stress Relievers for Speakers

- Brenda C. Smith

Actor's Voice Training to Skyrocket Your Speaking Business

- Brenda C. Smith

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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Center Your Vocal Tone Level

-Brenda C. Smith

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, 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 your vocal sounds more through your nasal passage and less through your mouth or oral passage. 

 

To remedy this, you must exercise your mind focus on loosening the muscle tightness, and on directing the tone to escape through your mouth. The mere fact of just thinking through your points as you speak can indeed coax your mind and your sound upward; instead of being relaxed and resonated fully in your chest and oral cavities. 


The sounds that include: /m/, /n/, and /ng/ are English nasal sounds that are supposed to 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, which is located at the back of your throat and flexible to open or close the passage of your sound to travel either through your nose or your mouth. 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 moves before you begin to speak or catch a new breath 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 need to take in more air. 


The advantage of using your diaphragm for all this support is that it can hold more air than your upper body. Also, you will have greater control manipulating your holding some air for reserve, or letting go of the air 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 because your voice sounds nasal, monotone, and on a high pitch level; then check the basics for a change in your breathing method and your resonating process.


If you have a question about your voice or presentation that I could answer, let me know.  Contact Us Today

Here’s to Keeping You Voice Fit!

Our Latest Blog Entry


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 so that you are in control of unstressing 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.


1. Stand and do long stretches in all directions using your arms and legs; up, down, behind, low, mid, and high.

2. Shake your whole body just like you are a swimmer coming out of the water and need to shake the water off your body. Be loose and free.

3. Take a HUGE Yawn and feel that air hit the back of your throat.

4. Take 3 slow deep breaths using your diaphragm (barrel under ribs and chest area); but definitely not your upper shoulder or upper chest area. Your shoulders should not rise; but your stomach should expand. Practise this until it becomes natural to you. Exhale on a big sigh.

5. Mentally check that there are no lingering tense muscles in your body; if so, shake it out.

6. Think of a relaxing place on the beach to transform your body, mind, and spirit into a calming power force.

7. Mentally clear your head of clutter and fill it with energy and thoughts of "I've got this!"

8. Practise your opening lines as an expert looking directly at your audience members as if you are there to help your listener with advice.

9. Smile and enjoy the moment as a confident speaking guru of the ages.

10. Repeat the above steps regularly and absorb it all.


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 Smith, Founder of Voice Power Training Services 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.VoicePowerTraining.com