Voice projection is a technique that allows the speaking or singing voice to be heard loudly and clearly.
Voice projection is super essential! Your message may be the most wonderful message the world could ever hear but it won’t matter a kidney bean if it doesn’t reach every corner of the room. Good voice projection also commands respect and attention.
Admittedly this could have been included in the last chapter as a subheading but we’ll give it its own space so it feels wanted. Projection is extra important when there is nothing to amplify your voice but is useful even with a microphone in hand.
Here are the tips:
Embrace Proper Posture
Voice projection starts with your body. Stand tall, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your shoulders relaxed. Maintain a neutral spine by keeping your head up and avoid slouching. This posture allows for optimal breath control and helps you project your voice more effectively.
Try this – get out your voice recorder on your phone or dictaphone if you still have one of those. Place it across the room from where you decide to stand. Now do everything in the opposite way to what we just advised. Slouch your body, slump your shoulders, put your chin to your chest… now speak at your normal talking volume.
Now follow the earlier advice by maintaining a neutral spine and your head up. Speak in the same volume as earlier.
I imagine you can imagine the results without going through the exercise but if you do try it, listen back and you’ll see what I mean. Or rather you’ll hear what I mean.
I’ll alliterate the tip to help you to remember; Posture Promotes Projection!
I’m proud of that one. Let me say it again; “Posture promotes projection!”
Breathe from the Diaphragm
The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that sits at the base of the chest, just below the lungs and heart, separating it from the abdomen. It is the primary muscle used in breathing.
In a normal talking voice you can get away with using air from the top of your lungs, but a strongly projected voice will use air flowing from the expansion of the diaphragm. It is about balancing your respiration.
Deep breathing is the foundation of powerful projection. Place your hand on your abdomen and take slow, deep breaths, allowing your belly to rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation. This diaphragmatic breathing technique provides the necessary support for your voice, enhancing its strength and resonance.
There are exercises that you can do to strengthen the diaphragm. It is after all a muscle, so just as you would exercise your biceps and triceps for stronger arms, the diaphragm also needs exercise to become stronger. Try these:
Blowing Up a Balloon
A balloon isn’t just a tried and true party decoration, but it is also an excellent exercise tool for strengthening the diaphragm and, as a bonus, the abs. Just as a dumbbell resists your biceps as they curl the weight, a balloon resists your exhale, which forces you to use extra strength when blowing.
Lie on the floor on your back, bend your knees and elevate your feet on a bench, couch or chair.
Hold the balloon in one hand while resting your other arm next to you.
Lift your bum about 5 cm off the ground (push your heels into the bench, couch or chair).
Take a deep breath in through your nose and then blow out through your mouth into the balloon. When you have released every bit of breath that you can, pull your mouth from the balloon and pause for 5 seconds.
Breathe in through your nose. When you breathe in, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Take in as much air as you possibly can and then repeat the cycle of blowing forcefully into the balloon until again, you have expelled all of your breath.
Repeat this cycle until you’ve filled up the balloon. Try not to over inflate it and have it explode in your face. That might sting a little.
Blow the balloon up a total of five times.
Note: As you exhale, do your best to keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. That way, the strain will instead be placed on your abs – which is what you’re after.
I’m not talking about eating some jellied sardines and breathing out warm fishy aromas on your mates. This is a great exercise for improving lung power.
Get into a position on the ground similar to what is called a “cat” pose in yoga. You do that by placing your hands and knees on the ground and gently rounding your back.
Your shoulders should be directly over your hands and your hips directly over your knees.
Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. With each breath out, round your back a little more while tucking your chin toward your chest. Keep rounding as you blow all of the air out of the lungs and when you’ve expelled that air – Pause for 5 seconds.
Repeat 5 times without bringing your back to its starting position.
This exercise is to help you to project from your resonators.
To produce, increase, or fill with sound, by vibrating objects that are near.
To project your voice effectively you want to engage your vocal resonators. We’re talking about your chest, throat, and mouth. Visualise your voice filling these spaces as you speak. Here’s the “Ha” exercise to help you:
a) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a deep breath.
b) As you exhale, say “Ha!” forcefully, directing the sound from your diaphragm and allowing it to resonate in your chest.
c) Repeat the exercise, gradually increasing the volume and focusing on the sensation of vibration in your chest, throat, and mouth.
Just as athletes warm up before a game, vocal warm-up exercises are essential for preparing your voice for maximum projection. Here are a few exercises to try:
Gently press your lips together and produce a buzzing sound while exhaling. This exercise helps relax your vocal cords and promotes a smooth airflow, preparing your voice for projection.
Engage your articulation and vocal muscles with tongue twisters. Repeat phrases like “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” or “She sells seashells by the seashore” to improve your enunciation and warm up your voice.
Humming is a fantastic exercise for warming up your voice and expanding your vocal range. Start by humming a comfortable note, then gradually ascend and descend the musical scales. This exercise helps you explore different pitches and strengthens your voice.
Articulation and Diction
When you project it is not just about people hearing you, but understanding you. Clear and precise articulation ensures that your words are easily understood by your audience. Practice exercises that focus on consonant sounds, such as repeating phrases like “She sells sea shells” or “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Enunciate each consonant distinctly, paying attention to clarity and precision.
Now it’s time to put it all together. Practice speaking in various environments, such as an empty room, a park, or a large auditorium. Experiment with different volumes and focus on projecting your voice to reach every corner of the space. Record yourself to assess your progress and make adjustments as needed.
All right! You’ve got this! Project baby project!