Your primary revenue generating tool as a professional speaker, is your voice. Most of us, however, don’t really take care of our voices and that’s where we can run into trouble.
About a year ago I was giving a speech to a room of about 150. Intros went great, the opening got everyone laughing and focused. As soon as I got into the meaty part of my content – the lav microphone started crapping out. It would intermittently cut in and out. The AV folks ran over to install a fresh set of batteries – which fixed the problem. For a few minutes. Then I started sounding like a remixed version of T-Payne again.
Having already lost precious time finagling with batteries, I was pretty frustrated and I could sense a bead of sweat starting to form at the top of my forehead. Not a good sign, when you’re standing in front of a room full of people expecting you to deliver. I ripped the mic off, recomposed and went to town. Luckily, it was a 60 minute session. By the time it was over, it felt like a truck drove over my throat. I couldn’t really carry on a conversation with any of the audience members afterwards, or speak properly for the rest of the day. Imagine if that was you… and it was a 3 hour workshop!
Next day, I started looking for some help and it turns out that most singers and big-name speakers will do vocal warmups before stepping on stage. Every single warmup I looked at or read about was WAY too long or way too complicated… or made you look like a tool. Finally, I came up with a couple of ideas that seemed to work and later came across a great 3 minute video embedded below that definitely helped. Here are some some of those ideas:
Voice tips for professional speakers:
- If you are driving to the event, pop in your favorite tune and hum along. Make sure to feel the vibration in your chest and throat.
- Never drink cold water before or while presenting. It actually stiffens your vocal cords.
- If you have a cold or flu, make a tea with honey and lemon. Take a few sips before and during the presentation. This tip has been a lifesaver many times.
- Slow down. When we’re excited or anxious, we kick into this high gear which raises the tone of your voice and makes you sound nervous and not confident. If you feel yourself speeding up… finish your sentence and just take a deep breath before continuing. One trick that works is to take a sip of water.
Finally, here’s a really great, short vocal exercise video that really helped my vocal ability.
Do you have any vocal exercises or ritual you perform before stepping on stage?