Bite Your Tongue: Eight More Ways To Improve Your Presentations
There was such a positive response to the speaking tips of Doug Lawrence (email) that I asked him for more stuff. Taking a cue from the fact that “Bite your tongue” was the most popular tip, here are more:
Warm-up with a towel. Singers often have to get their chops “up” in their hotel rooms before leaving for rehearsals or performances. They do this by screaming and yelling into a towel.
Just say “Whoooo!” One of the best ways to get a voice ready to talk or sing is to make a siren sound on “whoooo” from the lowest pitch you can make to the highest and back again. Repeat it several times. This obnoxious sound thins your vocal cords and makes them more supple for easy speaking or singing.
Flutter your lips. Blowing a pitch—any pitch—through your lips to make them flutter will loosen up your articulators: the tongue, lips, and throat muscles. When your voice is tired and husky, and you’re afraid you can’t go on—give this a shot. It will work wonders.
Eat light, eat protein. If you have to eat before a big presentation (singers prefer going in lean and mean), eat stuff that gives you energy, not a cheap high like carbs. Singers always party after the show!
Allocate three hours to wake up. Singers often take a nap in the afternoon before they perform, but they always allow at least three hours to get their brain and voice back. Getting to a wakeful state takes a lot longer than just putting your clothes on.
Skip the tea. Tea is an astringent and will close your voice down. Drink hot water instead—it keeps your voice supple as a baby’s cheeks (either set).
Leave your jaw out of it. If you use your jaw to speak, you will exhaust your voice. Jaws don’t sing, and they don’t speak. Don’t try to over-form your words by chewing them because you’ll be outrageously tired within a few minutes. Use your articulators (tongue and teeth) and leave your jaw for a nice meal after you speak.
Don’t overwhelm the audience. Be entertaining but use moments of silence, soft speech, and slow cadence. Any performer will tell you the trick to a really great performance is to make the audience come to you. The more you go after them, the more you push them away. When people watch Steve Jobs, they think they know what he’s going to do, but he titillates them until they can barely stand it and makes the audience come crawling to him.