You may have been told to “speak up” to project your voice across a room. But that’s not so easy. Perhaps nerves make your first words squeaky, and your throat gets dry in minutes, or you sound like a little kid, even though you are an accomplished adult.
Lowering your pitch with a vocal warm up is one solution that offers many benefits:
- Warming up protects your voice from strain.
- Deeper breathing is vocal fuel, gets you grounded, and will help to keep you alert but calm under stress.
- A lower pitch conveys more credibility. Numerous surveys suggest that a lower pitched voice is associated with maturity, confidence, even high social status and academic level. A high-pitched voice seems tense, uncertain, and immature, and can be unpleasant to hear.
- Your voice will carry farther at a low pitch without sounding screechy. So as you get louder, get lower.
Here is an exercise you can it do in the five minutes prior to your presentation for immediate results:
- Take a big breath in.
- Vocalize on “ahhh” starting at a high pitch and moving slowly down to the lowest pitch you can produce. Hold that that low note as long as you can.
- Repeat this 3 more times, holding the low note as long as you can each time. Use different vowel sounds (“oh”, “ee”) if you want to.
- As you move your voice down in pitch, try to relax and open your throat. Imagine your voice moving from your head down into your body.
Watch Melinda Henning provide an example of a vocal exercise:
As a result:
- You’ll produce a lower pitch
- You’ll have a richer resonance to your vocal quality
- You’ll have a calming impact from breathing more deeply.
Each person’s voice is unique, but most of us don’t use our full vocal capacity. Experiment with warming up to to add interest, credibility, power, and ease when you speak.
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