Vocal Exercises for Better Public Speaking

Does your voice get tired from public speaking? Do you need to boost your vocal energy and endurance?  The Public Speaker has exercises to get your voice into tip-top shape. 

Lisa B. Marshall
3-minute read
Episode #268

I want to welcome you to today’s exercise class. Don’t worry, you don’t need a yoga mat or a heart rate monitor. We’re going to work on training our voices. .

Although I have improved my vocal energy and endurance over the years, I still have a long way to go!  This is one of the most difficult areas of public speaking for me personally.

If your vocal muscles are out of shape, you’ll tire more easily. You won’t have the energy you need to provide an engaging experience for your listeners. Today I'm going to share some exercises that will help you get your voice in public speaking shape.

Oh, and you may want to try these is a place where no one can hear you.  You'll sound a bit silly.  

Basic Vocal Warm-Ups

You wouldn’t run a long distance race without warming up your muscles first, right? In the same way, you should warm up your vocal muscles before speaking in public. Here are 4 quick exercises you can do to warm up:

  1. Hum your favorite tune. I use a silly one like "If You're Happy and Your Know It"

  2. Run through some scales (do re mi fa so la ti do).

  3. Pretend like you’re chewing gum or eating a soft cookie using your upper and lower muscles. Chew slowly and gently to loosen your jaw.

  4. Swish your tongue around your mouth. Tension sometimes mounts in the back of your tongue and this exercise will loosen and relax it.

Breathing exercises

Proper breathing is an important part of vocal training. You need to fill your lungs all the way to your abdomen with air. Practice these 4 steps in order:

  1. Stand up, shoulders back, and hands on your stomach. Let your stomach muscles relax.

  2. Breathe in through your nose and fill up your abdomen first (you should feel and see it expand), then your ribs, and all the way up to your chin.

  3. Hold this breath and count to 10.

  4. Now exhale slowly. As you exhale, keep your ribs expanded and tighten your abdomen. The lower abdominal muscles should come in first as though you were rolling up a tube of toothpaste. 

While you are breathing, check your shoulders and stomach. Your shoulders should not be going up and your stomach should be going out.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.