Are you able to communicate effectively during your virtual meetings with your teams via Skype, Zoom, Team or other apps? Since lockdown, there has been a huge surge in home workers needing to upskill their online communications. Many new Voice Synergy clients have asked for help with sounding more confident and to speak more clearly.
We have had many weeks of living and working in a completely new way of life. It’s been a challenge to find a delivery slot for our online food shop, to find seeds to grow and nurture for our mental health and well-being, not forgetting finding and following a virtual fitness Geru to maintain our physical health. On top of that, we still need to get out for those important walks away from our homes. And just to add another bizarre element into the mix, the physical workplace has disappeared and every working contact is now connected to us via the computer screen.
Online meetings and conferences ask for a very different approach from face to face meetings. To begin with, there is often a time lag between you speaking and the sound of your voice reaching the others. Then there is the problem of people talking over each other. It can be difficult to get a word in edgeways, sometimes. When it’s finally your turn to speak in an online meeting, it’s vital to use your voice effectively and to speak clearly and with confidence.
Did you know that just exercising your voice and lips can help you with your conference calls?
One thing that might not have occurred to you is that your voice needs exercise to keep it fit and healthy, just like the rest of your body.
Voice exercises to do before you join an online meeting
1. Keep your voice active
If you are working from home your voice could be unused for hours. Suddenly, it’s time for the team meeting and you find your voice is a bit squeaky or gives up! It’s really important to warm up your voice before you speak and especially if you’ve been quiet all day.
If you can, hum or sing along to some of your favourite tunes to warm up your voice. Relax your jaw and let your lips gently touch, then breathe in and hum away as long as that breath lasts. Don’t push the breath out, instead, just relax and let the air drop deep down into your lungs again to take another breath and carry on humming.
Try humming up and down a scale to warm up your voice – the song ‘Doe a deer’ from the Sound of Music is an ideal voice warm up song to hum along to, but many others are fun to hum along with.
2. Keep your articulators strong
In the same way as your voice can ‘go to sleep’ and lose its power, the same can be said for your articulators. Our articulators are vitally important in shaping our words and strong muscles in our lips, tongue and soft palate help our words to be spoken clearly.
If you want to avoid mumbling, here is an exercise to help your lips stay flexible and strong to help with clear speech.
To develop muscles in your lips, stretch your lips out across your face, in a wide smile. Next, exercise the lip muscles in another direction; pull your lips in to the centre of your mouth, as though you were about to whistle. Alternate these two lip exercises about ten times to give the lip articulator muscles a good stretch.
3. Stretch your soft palate
The back of your soft palate is a vital muscle that helps shape sounds like sing, bring and along as well as the ‘G’ and ‘K’ sounds in words like ‘Goal, Create, Good and Quick’.
To give the soft palate some exercise and warm up those muscles, simply have a good yawn and stretch. Yes, that’s right! You can sit down or stand up and simply have a really loud, luxurious long noisy yawn! You will be stretching your soft palate and letting it move up and sideways at the back of your mouth. Letting your ‘yawn sound’ out too and trilling up and down a few scales will make this exercise even more effective in warming up your voice and speech muscles.
Just exercising your voice, lips and soft palate in this way can help your speech muscles to perform more effectively in your online meetings.
To develop a stronger, more confident voice on your conference calls and get help with expressing your ideas with clarity and at the right speed and volume, please get in touch.