Making sure that your voice can be heard from the front row to the very back pew is just as important as the content of your service. When your congregants can’t hear you clearly, their attention drops off and your message loses its impact. Even pastors who use microphones to amplify their voices can take advantage of some simple tips and tricks to better project and speak more clearly. Your voice is your most valuable instrument—here are 5 ways to keep it in tune.
- Vocal warmups
You warm up before you exercise to get a better workout, right? Your vocal cords are made of the same stuff as the rest of your body, so you need to warm them up before big speeches, too. Some vocal warmup techniques include humming your favorite tune, running through scales, stretching your jaw by pretending you’re chewing gum or eating soft bread, and swishing your tongue around to relieve tension in the back of your throat and mouth. It might look or feel silly, but it’ll help make sure your voice sounds its best.
- Practice diaphragmic breathing
While you obviously know how breathe, you may not be doing it correctly for clear, understandable public speaking. Learning how to breathe (and speak) from your diaphragm can improve your delivery, tone, and rate, and even help nonverbal communication such as posture and eye contact. It’s a bit counterintuitive: when you inhale, allow your belly to expand to allow your diaphragm to move down freely. When you exhale, drawing your belly in helps your diaphragm move up, which also helps project your voice. This also helps you sound better and look more confident, helping you capture the attention of your congregation. You can find a good step-by-step guide to getting it down here.
- Try some tricky tongue twisters
Practicing tongue twisters helps you increase your vocal clarity by isolating the muscles used for articulation. Repeat your selection several times but only as fast as you can go and keep them clear. Here are a few to get you started:
- The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue, the tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips.
- The sixth sick shiek’s sixth sheep’s sick.
- Thistle sticks, sixty-six thousand and six thistle sticks.
- Relax your voice
If your voice is tense, not only do you sound tense, but you’re also straining your vocal cords. To practice relaxing your voice, follow these steps:
- Put your finger across your throat at the top of your “Adams Apple” and swallow. Notice the upward motion of the “Adams Apple”.
- Keeping your finger in place, relax and begin a yawn. The sensation that occurs at the beginning of a yawn releases tension in the throat. Notice the downward motion of the Adams Apple. This motion opens the throat and releases tension.
- Yawn again (not a full yawn) and exhale by sighing “ah” at a comfortable high note while descending rapidly through your voice, so it sounds like a sigh.
- Practice releasing tension in the throat with a yawn/sigh motion 5 times.
- Take a singing lesson
You won’t just put on a better show at karaoke night. Taking a singing lesson will help you learn a lot about how your voice works, how to modulate it, and how to gain better control over your voice while speaking as well as singing.
Of course, using the right microphone will also help you sound better. You can find help selecting the best microphone for pastors here.
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