vocal warm upsMost people think vocal warm-up exercises are only important for singers. Wrong! Every professional should be using vocal warm ups:

If you’ve ever spoken up in a meeting or given a presentation or speech, then you need a basic vocal warm up exercise.

I want to teach you all of my vocal warm up exercises. Watch the video above to see them in action and try them with me.

Here’s the Problem:

We often prepare for our first few lines of a speech or meeting, but we rarely think about how we deliver those lines.

You can say the greatest line in the world, but if you sound nervous saying it, then your message is ruined!

I do a vocal warm up exercise before every presentation, meeting or speech where I’m speaking for more than a few minutes. Here are the 5 vocal warm-up exercises you can try:

Step #1: Loosen Up and Shush

The first thing you want to do is loosen up. Wiggle your shoulders, relax your neck, release your jaw, and take in some deep breaths. This helps you shake out excess nerves and creates more space in your body. This is really important to make sure you don’t sound anxious or tight. Now take some belly deep breaths. The trick here is not to breathe with your shoulders–keep them down as you breathe; good vocal breathing is all in the belly. Try this:

  • As you breathe, put your hands on your belly and push your stomach into your hands—like a balloon filling up with air. Now try pushing the air out from your stomach all the way through the front of your mouth.
  • Pretend you are a librarian shushing ornery students. Give a big, “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” Just remember to keep your shoulders down. Do this “Shhhhhh!” a few times.

Step #1 should take no more than a minute of shaking loose and deep “shush” breathing.

Step #2: Tongue Trills

Oh, this is a fun one—you are warming up your tongue. It’s helpful to have it nice and loose while you speak. A tongue trill is when you roll your tongue as quickly as possible in your mouth. Once you have done a few of these, try doing some with descending and ascending tones. Do these tongue trills about five times each. See me do this in action in the video above.

Step #3: Hum It Up

Humming is the next best way to warm up your vocal chords and mouth. The vibrations in humming are what’s really important here because they loosen up your vocal chords. If you are speaking early in the morning, humming is going to be the most important step for you. Start with the basics:

  • Do one long “hmmmmmmmmm.” Hold it for as long as you can.
  • Now try loosening up your lips and mouth as you hum so you are not pressing your lips together. Keep your jaw and cheeks nice and loose too.
  • Now go up and down with your hum. Alternate between descending and ascending hums.

Do this five times.

Step #4: Chant

Did seeing the word “chant” make you nervous? This one might feel a little odd, but it’s probably the most important step to a solid vocal warm-up. We are going to say the same four words over and over again:

“Meem, Mime, Mohm, Moom”

These words go naturally right after your humming because they all start with the letter “M.” After you finish Step #3, go right into opening your mouth and slowly saying each of the words above. Start off by using the same tone, then try ascending and descending ones. When you feel very warmed up, try fluctuating your tones for each word.

Do this for as long as it takes to get a really comfortable resonance. You know you are warmed up when the sound coming from your throat is long and clear. When you first start, these sounds might be a little raspy or rough. By the end, they should be smooth. By the way, if you do not know your maximum vocal resonance point, be sure to watch my video on it here:

Step #5: Pronounce

The last step is to get your mouth ready to enunciate your words and sounds clearly. We are going to add a “P” and a “T” sound to our “M” sounds. Try adding these sounds to your chant:

“Ma, Pa, Ta, Ma, Pa, Ta”

Hold these for short sounds and long ones. Try ascending and descending. Then, really try to enunciate these sounds and open your mouth wide on the ‘a’s.’

Do this five to ten times and then you’re done!

All together, these exercises shouldn’t take more than five minutes. You can do a quick version if you are hiding out in the bathroom before a meeting, or a long version if you are driving somewhere. I like to do this while I am putting on makeup or on my commute. Here is the short version you can copy and paste into your phone or print out:

The Short Vocal Warm-Up

1. Breathe

Shhhhhhhhh

Shhhhhhhhh

Shh shh shh shh shh

Shhhhhhhhh

2. Tongue Trill

Dddddddd

Dddddddd

Ascending

Descending

3. Hum

Hmmmmmmm

Hmmmmmmm

Ascending

Descending

4. Chant

MMmmmmmmmmmmmeem mime mohm moom

MMmmmmmmmmmmmeem mime mohm moom

Ascending

Descending

5. Pronounce

Maaaa paaaaa taaa maaa paaa taaa

Maaaa paaaaa taaa maaa paaa taaa

Maaaa paaaaa taaa maaa paaa taaa

And that’s it! You now should be vocally warmed up. Please save this video to practice before your next speech.

You can even just listen to the audio while you are driving, putting on makeup, or getting dressed.

Vocal warm-up exercises are pretty easy to do while multitasking, if you are in a crunch for time.

Want more on vocal power?

To your vocal success,

Vanessa

About Vanessa Van Edwards

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and behavioral investigator.

I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.

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