Vocal warm ups are essential to enhance and protect your voice when speaking live on air. Your voice is a muscle that you must take care of and properly prepare in order to avoid damage. In this article we’ll explain why and how to effectively prepare your voice. By performing these simple exercises before doing a live radio show for example, you will reduce vocal fatigue.
Why are vocal warm ups important?
As a radio presenter, your listeners only have access to what they can hear. It’s a well known fact that effective communication doesn’t only depend on what you say, but also how you say it. If you speak with a dull, monotonous voice then you risk losing the attention of your audience.
We are taught to warm up our muscles before undergoing physical activity in order to prevent damage to our bodies. Well, the same thing goes for your voice! Vocal warm ups allow you to enhance the performance of your thorax muscles (chest), as well as the upper vocal tract (mouth) and larynx (throat).
To put it simply, the more you warm up, the better your voice will sound! Before going live on your radio station, take 15 minutes to perform these simple vocal warm ups.
Facial muscle warm ups
As a radio host, you are often required to speak for long periods of time, sometimes early in the morning or late at night. Preparing your face muscles is a crucial part of warming up. It will release any tension you may have, and helps avoid inflicting any kind of damage.
- Chewing gum: pretend you’re chewing a big ball of invisible gum. Really stretch your mouth as far as it will go without opening your mouth!
- Cheek rub: gently rub your cheeks and jaws with small circular motions. Continue to massage while lowering and raising your jaw.
It’s also important, as a radio presenter, to ensure that you are not slurring your words. Your lips are what shape the sounds that come out of your mouth. If they are tight and crisp, it will inevitably impact the clarity and quality of what you’re trying to say. This vocal warm up will help relax your lips which, in turn, will also help with pronunciation.
You probably did lip trills as a child without even realising it. It’s simply when you close your lips together and allow air to pass through by rapidly blowing out air to create a “brrrrrrr” sound. As you get more and more comfortable with this vocal warm up, start adding sound to your lip trills.
Take a look at this short video clip to help guide you the first few times.
Tongue twisters are famously effective when it comes to preparing your voice, whether it’s for radio, singing or public speaking. They are a fun way to warm up your articulation tools (lips, tongue and teeth), which improves diction, making you easier to understand.
Start by reading the first sentence, doing your best to articulate and exaggerate your facial movements as much as possible. Start repeating the phrase faster and faster, all whilst keeping your pronunciation in tact.
– Red lorry, yellow lorry.
– He threw three balls.
– Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?
– A synonym for cinnamon is a cinnamon synonym.
Humming is one of the best (and easiest) vocal warm ups to practice before speaking for long periods of time. This exercise stretches your vocal cords and also relaxes your face muscles. Plus, it’s something you can do on your way to the radio studio just a few minutes before going live!
- Relax the muscles in your face
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your bottom front teeth.
- Start making a “hmmm” sound. Keep your jaw open and your lips closed.
- Experiment by humming notes up and down your range. Make sure to keep your mouth closed.
You should feel a tingling sensation as you hum. These vibrations relaxe your face muscles and help relieve any tension. Feel free to take a look at this quick video tutorial to help you perfect this vocal warm up:
Proper breathing will help support your voice and reduce strain on the rest of your body. Generally, if you’re not breathing properly it’s because you’re talking too fast or using too many filler words such as “um“, “oh“, “ah“…. Take the time to say what you need to say, before drawing in the necessary breath in order to continue. Deep breathing also lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, so if you’re feeling nervous before your live show then be sure to perform this quick vocal warm up!
You may have heard of diaphragmatic breathing before. It essentially means that, as you breathe in, your stomach should expand and your shoulders should stay in place (and not rise as you take a breath). Remember, good vocal breathing comes from the stomach.
- Take a breath in through your nose to the count of five. Imagine a balloon filling up with air as you feel your belly expand.
- Push the air out from your stomach all the way through the front of your mouth to the count of five. You should feel your stomach move inwards as the air is released from your diaphragm.
- You can add a “Shhhhhhhhh” sound as you exhale if you wish.
- Perform this warm up several times, and remember to keep your shoulders down!
Note: always remember to have a bottle of water close at hand when performing vocal warm ups, and during your live radio shows. Keeping your voice hydrated is essential to keeping it healthy!
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