Ten Powerful Warm-up Tips for a Successful Speech or Presentation

The tips below include techniques designed to relax your body and get your voice warmed up and ready to deliver a great speech or presentation.

1. Prepare your material well in advance

Whenever possible, and rehearse it out loud. Only then will you start to hear what it sounds like and whether or not it makes sense.

2. Make sure you feel physically awake and energised

This can apply just as much after a day’s work as first thing in the morning.

The easiest and quickest way to get your blood flowing is to bend your knees and swing your arms, in a steady rhythm, as if you are skiing. Do this for 2-3 minutes. Have a few stretches. Yawn.

If you can’t do any of the above, eg if you’re in a public place, walk about a bit. Go up and down some stairs or round the building. Get your blood flowing.

3. Circle your shoulders

Very gently, round to the front, up towards your ears, back and down.

Rest a moment.

Repeat three times. (x3)

Now repeat in the reverse direction: Circle your shoulders back and up, then bring round to the front and allow them to drop.

Rest a moment.

Repeat three times. (x3)

4. Release your neck

Imagine you have a felt-tip pen sticking out at right angles from your nose.

Keeping your body and neck still, describe a circle on an imaginary sheet of paper held in front of you.

Make the circle bigger and bigger. When it is as big as possible, reverse the direction.

5. Release your jaw

Clench your top and bottom rows of teeth together hard.

Gradually allow the distance to widen between the rows at the back of the mouth.

As your lower jaw starts to fall, allow your mouth to open. Do not stretch, just let it open to accommodate the falling jaw.

Let it rest. Remember how it feels when it has been allowed to drop.

Imagine you’re chewing a huge toffee. Bits of toffee are stuck all round your teeth and you need to get them off using your tongue. Toffee has also stuck to your lips.

6. Pay attention to body alignment

The feet must take the full weight of the body evenly.

Feet the same width as, or just slightly wider apart than your shoulders and very slightly turned out; knees directly over your toes; soften the knees; tip your pelvis back slightly so neither your stomach nor bottom are sticking out; check your rib cage is free – no slumping! – head centred on a free but well stretched neck.

7. The big one – Breathing!

Sit, well balanced, to the front of a chair. Make sure you are not slumped in any way.

Lean forward and imagine you are picking up an exotic flower or a really wonderfully scented rose. Breathe in the scent, savouring every moment.

Repeat, slowly a few times.

Then, dispense with the action of holding up the flower, but keep the same thought, and when you breathe out imagine there is a lit candle in front of you.

Blow steadily on the flame so you bend it but do not blow it out. Repeat – smelling the flower and exhaling, bending the flame.

You will take in maximum air in the most stress-free way. NB if nervous, concentrate on your outbreath, blowing on the candle, and let the in-breath look after itself.

8. Hum to warm up the voice

Roll your head and hum a few times to be aware of the above. Hum any tune gently – beware of pushing the voice from the throat.

Feel for a tickling sensation around the lips. Avoid any sense of strain.

9. Get your lips working

Blow through them like a horse. You can go from horse lips into humming, to ensure you are not tightening up your lips and tightening up on the sound you are making.

10. Perform some vocal gymnastics!

Read aloud and/or repeat some tongue twisters.

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