It’s the New Year and New Year’s Resolutions abound… One thing you might be considering, as part of your New Year’s life changing goals, is taking part in this year’s London Marathon.
And off you go at a pace, without building up stamina, warming up your muscles or even doing a few stretches. No. That would be unthinkable, eh?
Whether you are getting into shape for this year’s London Marathon, or challenging yourself to become a better speaker, you need to get match fit. You’ll be surprised to know that although most people would train hard to improve their stamina and build up marathon-ready muscles, they don’t think about training and building up vocal stamina for their important speaking event.
Just like an athlete getting into shape for the London Marathon, consider what it takes to make a great speech. You can prepare for your big speech by developing vocal strength, power and stamina. You need to be interesting, fluent and relevant to hold the attention of your audience. This takes time and effort.
Don’t leave your voice training until a few days before your presentation. Begin getting into shape a few weeks before to ensure that you have the staying power to deliver your message. You’ll need to speak with passion, conviction and impact from the strong start, through to the big finish.
Think about your chosen topic. What is at the heart of your presentation? What is your subject about and what do you want your audience to take away with them?
The more you prepare, the more familiar you will be with your subject matter. Your brain will start making connections in a considered order, once you have arranged your speech.
Next, read your work to yourself. Then read it aloud. Then using just headings, speak from your heart to tell your imaginary audience about your topic. Keep practising until you know your presentation really well. Don’t be afraid to rewrite at any time during this preparation time. Use words and phrases that you feel comfortable with saying. They might not be the same words and phrases that you have written down. Aim for a good flow of words and phrases that allow you to feel comfortable and in control.
After rehearsing your material thoroughly, go through these vocal warm ups and top tips to help you relax and be prepared:
- Hum, relaxing your jaw and shoulders and hum up and down a few scales
- Clench your lips together, pout and then give a broad smile
- Stretch up with your arms, giving a relaxed and wholehearted voiced yawn – up and down the scale a bit – as you bring your arms gently down to your sides
- Blow through your lips as you use your voice, sounds like a Brrrrr… when it’s chilly – also know as ‘Horse lips’!
- Give your face and jaw a gentle fingertip massage to relax your muscles.
Repeat these essential voice warm up exercises a few times, remembering to relax your shoulders and jaw as you do so.
On the day, drink water before and have water on hand to sip during your speech. Avoid alcohol until after the speech and also avoid too much milk or dairy products before making a speech.
Using these top tips, you will be well on the way to being match fit for your big presentation. You will be familiar with your material, used to the words you are speaking aloud and relaxed enough to enjoy communicating your topic to your eager audience.
Remember to enjoy your presentation. Just like the marathon runner investing time and effort to create fitness and stamina well in advance of their 26.2 mile run, preparation and practice make all the difference to the success of your speech. Your speech matters, whether it’s a vocal sprint in an elevator pitch or a marathon speech at a conference! Good luck with your speeches in 2018 and a Happy New Year to you.
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