Whether you’re speaking for 8 minutes or 8 hours, you’ll have more fun and feel less stressed if you know how to relax your throat and your voice.
Here are the tips I use when speaking or leading workshops is putting too much stress on my pipes.
Common Sense Throat Care for Before You Speak in Public
- Don’t talk before a big or long presentation (yes, extraverts, I know this is tough; but even a half-hour of silence will make a difference).
- Drink lots of liquids — hydrated bodies are happy bodies, and the same goes for your throat and vocal cords
- Don’t go drinking the night before — it will dehydrate you, and if you’re in a bar, tempt you to speak too loudly.
- Get a good night’s sleep before your public speaking or training gig. The more we learn about the value of sleep the more we look like idiots for trying to forgo it.
Baby Your Throat on Public Speaking Day
- Drink soothing, warm liquid — lemon juice and honey in hot water are my go-to brew, but even warm water will help in a pinch. And don’t hesitate to take a thermos to the podium, meeting, or workshop room and sip your soothing drink as needed.
- Stroke your throat with your hand, as this picture shows. Slow, repetitive strokes will warm and relax your neck and throat.
- Warm up your vocal chords by subvocalizing long tones. Sorry, couldn’t resist teching out with a little singer slang. Translated, that means to close your mouth by pressing your lips lightly together, let your facial muscles drop (no smiling), and hum a single note to yourself for a few second, then take a . If you do this right, meaning very gently, you’ll feel your jaw and throat relax. (This is also a great thing to do during breaks if you’re giving a long presentation or workshop.)
- Gently rotate your head in a circle, while keeping your neck, shoulders, and jaw relaxed. If you’ve ever taken yoga or a dance class, you know how to do this; but it’s not hard to figure out. Just start out very gently tilting your head forward, then to the left, then backward, then to the right, making the motion as smooth as you can. Do it a few times and reverse directions. This is a great exercise for loosening up everything that helps you speak.
Throat Care While You’re Speaking or Training
- Maintain good posture. Your words will come out more fluidly if you’re not, for example, tucking your chin toward your chest, which literally cuts off your voice.
- Support your voice by tightening the muscles in your pelvic floor. This takes some practice, and don’t think about it during a speech until you know what you’re doing. But the reason old-time opera singers could fill a hall that held 2000 people with their unamplified voices was that they knew how to use other muscles as a staging platform. If this interests you and you’re willing to invest time and effort in developing those muscles, I’ll post a resource that describes how; or contact me!
- Take breaks whenever you need to. If you feel your throat starting to tighten up or notice that your posture is sagging or your neck, shoulders, and jaw are tense, don’t try to ignore that and power through. Instead, take a quick break and try to get your body back on track.
Public Speakers, Your Voice Is Your Instrument
Take good care of it, and it will take good care of you!