Have you ever been in sales and done cold calling, whether it be door-to-door or over the phone? How did you feel about it? Other than those who claim that cold calling is an easy, fun experience, can we run with the assumption that cold calling is less desireable than calling warm contacts (people you already know and welcome you)?
When we begin speaking without warming up our body, it's just like cold calling. Our jaw, lips, and cheeks are tight. Our throat, vocal chords, and soft palate are tight. Our lungs and diaphragm are tight. We are unable to perform in the range required to give you a wide palette of sound.
In the Toastmasters training program the idea of warming up BEFORE speaking is never mentioned (and if you find it, please correct me). I often warm up before a speech contest or before doing a voice over. You might catch me stretching, flailing and flapping my arms, breathing deeply, humming, muttering, and toning. I also greet members of the audience and meet them eye-to-eye, connecting before we visually cross the moat in front of the stage.
Athletes warm up. Yoga participants warm up. Tai Chi practitioners warm up. I don't know what chess champions do.
What if you made warming up a regular part of your speaking? What if we made warming up a standard part of our public speaking training? What might happen to our openness, expressiveness, and ultimately the audience? What a great ice breaker for our meetings.
Amy Walker, the Amy-zing talented actress, director, voice artist and famed talent of the YouTube viral video "21 Accents", generously shows us her warm-up exercises.
- Break up old muscular patterns
- new expression; new way of speech
- expand your palette [of sound]
- the voice is grounded in the body
- warm up the body; warm up the voice
Warm-up exercises also reduce negative self-consciousness and facilitate individual participation in a training group. I will introduce warm-ups at some up-coming workshops and let you know how it goes. Stay tuned...