Your voice and your confidence starts with good posture. These first four exercises will help you achieve just that.
Where you place your feet makes you look either strong and confident, or slouchy and nervous. Plant your feet on the floor, making sure they are shoulder-width apart. Imagine you are drawing a straight line from your shoulders down to your feet, pointing forwards. I am naturally flat footed so I tend to point out. But forward is the way they need to be. When I did this exercise with Nate, he said it was a game changer for him. It made him stand tall.
Now your feet are facing forwards, stretch up onto your tiptoes. Imagine your head is being pulled up by a piece of string. It will stretch your neck and your stomach. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Then slowly lower back down onto your heels to the count of three.
Practice makes permanent, so practice this move for it to become normal. This time, lower down to the count of five. Allow yourself to feel the stretch in your neck and in your stomach.
After this excercise, people sometimes turn into robots – they feel they cannot move their shoulders. To keep you loose, shake your shoulders up and down. Make sure they are relaxed. You want relaxed shoulders and a stretched neck and stomach.
The diaphragm – which is just behind our belly button – is a little bit like a trampoline. It will catapult your voice up and out of your mouth if you learn how to bounce on it. Here are three exercises to make sure you bounce:
Breathe out of your mouth for four seconds. You will feel a little bit like your stomach is a deflating balloon. This is good.
Close your mouth and breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Your stomach will fill up like a balloon. Nobody likes to let their stomach hang out, but it is what singers and swimmers do to fill their lungs with air. It’s what you need to do to launch your voice out of you.
Now you have done this once, do it for 30–60 seconds. Allow yourself to breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds and breathe out for four seconds. You are learning to use a very valuable muscle. The return on your investment will be huge.
Now it’s time to land your posture and breathing in your voice. I don’t know any other way to release the voice for long term success apart from these final three exercises.
Breathe out one more time, breathe in one more time. Then, instead of just breathing out the next time, close your mouth and send a hum out into the room. Make the sound ‘Mmmmmmmm’, keeping the sound at the front of your mouth, just behind your lips.
Now imagine that, as you hum, you are sending a spaceship across to the other side of the room. Your hum is the fuel. You have to keep humming and making it a little louder as you run out of breath.
Hum again – and this time, when the spaceship is halfway across the room, open your mouth, to continue the mmm into ‘Mmmmy name is …’ and say your name! It will feel very weird the first time, but then it will actually become fun! There is nothing more satisfying than saying your name confidently and loudly.
If you do these ten steps every day, or any day, your body will start to thank you by helping you to speak confidently and stand tall.
This is just the beginning – the foundations of great storytelling – but it is the training that you need. For the rest, stay tuned for more blogs, or you can join my Storytelling Academy where I share videos on these skills and many many more!