When we work out at a gym on a consistent basis, we build muscles. When we stop, we lose our fitness in approximately two weeks. Similarly, to keep our speaking muscles strong, we need to speak consistently or at least once a week. Just like when you work out at the gym, the more you do it, the bigger your muscles get. You want to speak as often as you can and build your speaking muscles.
To build those speaking muscles and become the strongest speaker you can be, follow the steps below that I have outlined using the acronym MUSCLE. We are going to start at the bottom of the word and build up from there just like you would build your physical muscles.
How to build your speaking MUSCLE:
E is for Exercise Your Voice
Your voice is your instrument. Speaking in a conversational voice is not building the voice as a muscle. Here is how to exercise and build your voice muscle:
1. Facial Exercises. Make the following sounds “Ooooh, eeeeee, ahhh” while stretching your lips and mouth.
2. Tongue Exercises. The most important muscle in your mouth is your tongue. It is important to exercise it or you will get a lazy tongue which will get in the way if you talk fast. Do these tongue stretches – stick your tongue out as far as it will go. Now move it from side to side, up and down, angle upper right, upper left, lower right then lower left. Also, try to touch your nose with your tongue. You probably will not be able to do it but try because it is a great stretching and strengthening exercise.
3. Strengthen your voice. To be able to do this:
– Repeat these words over and over and faster and faster: Baby By Bo Booo
– Yawn and push the air out while making a sound. This is particularly for people with a high voice. It will help lower the voice.
4. Practice tongue twisters. Repeat the following over and over, faster, and faster:
– Lemon liniment
– Susan Schuster
– You need New York. Unique New York
5. Old fashion tongue twisters:
- Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair, Fuzzy Wuzzy was not a fuzzy, was he?
- Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers how many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?
Do these exercises before you speak, and you will be surprised how fast you can train your voice and tongue to speak as fast or as slow as you desire.
L is for Learn Vocal Variety
Vocal variety includes your pitch, tone, and speed. Sometimes you will need to slow down or speed up your delivery. You may want to get louder or quieter to emphasize a point. You may even pause to create more interest. The pause is a powerful speaking technique because it draws people in and creates a listening dynamic. Overall, vocal variety will keep your audience engaged in ways your speech may not.
C is for Consistent Speaking.
Just like physical exercise, you need to set a goal for how many times per week you are going to speak. Like exercise, you can only build your speaking muscle if you speak consistently. Therefore, you need to speak a minimum of once or twice a week. Anything less than that will not keep you fit and ready to speak at a moment’s notice.
S is for Share Stories with Others.
When you have a good story to tell, try it out first on a friend, family member, or colleague before you bring it to the stage. Develop the characters, opposition, and solution by telling it over and over to anyone who will listen. By practicing your story this way, it is like physical isolation exercises that build specific muscles. For example, if you want that six pack, you will need to focus on each muscle separately. Practicing your story will build your storytelling muscle and you will be able to captivate your audience with your storytelling charm.
U is for Unwavering Practice.
You may have read my previous blogs where I talk about how often you need to practice your presentation. As a reminder you need to practice 1 hour for every 2 minutes of speech. That means, a 30-minute speech requires 15 hours of rehearsal time. For the best results when rehearsing a speech, speak it aloud. Let yourself hear yourself over and over and eventually you will become the script. It may be tempting to cut your practice time however you will not achieve the same level of confidence in knowing your presentation inside and out. No matter what, you need to dedicate time to practice because your audience deserves your best.
M is for Massage Your Message.
Your signature talk is your basic speech that sets you up for business. It demonstrates what you do, for whom you do it, and the benefits you provide. However, it is a generic talk for a general audience. Remember one size does not fit all especially when it comes to speeches. It is important for you to massage your signature message for industry specific audiences or target market niches. Case in point, if you are speaking to a group of real estate professionals, you will want to tailor your speech to fit that audience by using their industry words or jargon. When speaking to a group of stay-at-home-moms, their desires and benefits could be quite different from those of a business owner. Before you speak, take a good look at the demographics of your audience, and modify your signature talk to fit them.
For more information on how you can build your speaking muscle watch this masterclass: