In a recent blog post, I connected how your posture and core strength affects your voice. For most people, the information I shared will be helpful in everyday speaking. But, for people who need to really make their voices heard, there is more you can do. Do you regularly speak in business meetings or in public? Do you need a strong voice but struggle to project? If so, here are a few helpful tips to help you develop a powerful speaking voice.
Start with your feet
In my video on finding your center of balance is very helpful for stability and posture, but you’ll need to integrate this information while speaking in front of a group or at a meeting. Catherine Johns, a professional speaking coach, recommends “rooting yourself to the floor” to feel “the energy coming up from the earth into your feet and up into your body.” This will help you feel solid, grounded and less nervous as the rest of your body will relax. I have been receiving Catherine’s newsletter for the past few years and always find her information useful. She explains the “grounding” concept in more detail in her blog post, “Head to Toe Speaking”.
A young woman with jaw pain came to work with me earlier this year. When she stood, her bottom jaw was in constant motion, trying to find a place to settle. Once she was instructed how to stand with good center of balance and strengthened her core and feet, she no longer moved her jaw around to find a comfortable position.
If you need to speak with authority while sitting, Catherine and I both recommend having your feet flat on the ground, again to ground yourself.
In the previous blog post, I gave you an exercise to practice diaphragm breathing while your abs are engaged. Now, try talking while keeping your abs engaged. In order to speak, you will need to breathe. This is a great way to functionally use your core.
While speaking in front of a group, you might unconsciously hold your breath, due to nervousness. Not breathing will actually make you even more nervous. Catherine offers some nice imagery to help you breath while speaking. She says, “Imagine your breath coming from the power center in your lower belly. Or even from your legs and feet. It’s not literally true of course – the air comes and goes from your lungs. But when you use your powerful imagination in this way, your actual, literal lungs will expand in response to the mental image you’ve created. You will connect to the energy centers deep in the core of you. And your voice will be stronger and truer as a result. “ You also will feel less nervous!
Stabilize your Core
Once you’ve mastered the basics of diaphragm breathing while engaging your core, you can challenge your core stability by adding movement. Check out this video of some basic core exercises.
If you’d like a more advanced core stability exercise, follow these steps:
- Find your center of balance and stand with your abs engaged
- Raise your arms overhead
- Point your thumbs backward
- Alternate reaching your arms back
- To challenge yourself even more, repeat the above steps while standing on one leg
Now that your core is stronger and you have mastered diaphragm breathing while moving and talking, it’s time for people to hear your voice while speaking in front of a group.
Catherine suggests to look at the person in the room who’s farthest away from you. “Our energy follows our line of sight – so, if you’re looking all the way across the room it’ll be easier to project your voice.” If you’re looking at someone who is close to you, you’ll automatically be inclined to lower your voice and that’s the opposite of what you’re trying to do. “Imagine that your voice is an arrow. (I like to make it a rubber-tipped arrow so no one gets hurt.) Your belly is the bow. Use that belly-bow to launch your voice up and out and across the room, aiming your “arrow” right at that farthest-away person.”
Apply these tips the next time you have speak in public or give a presentation, and let us know how it goes!