If you’re interested in how you can take up space with your voice, to help you emanate that executive presence, then keep reading. I’m giving you 3 easy diaphragm exercises so you can project your voice to be heard.
My maternal grandmother, who was an accomplished artist, used to tell me "sing from the head" when I'd sing her a number I learned in chorus. As a classically trained opera singer, using her “head voice” was second nature to her. She knew how to do diaphragmatic breathing. But I did not. We didn't cover that one in music class. Any time I sang I’d always end up with exhausted vocal cords.
It was not until years later, ensconced in a yoga studio in the West Village that I revisited diaphragmatic breathing. Somewhere between an upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana) into child’s pose, I finally understood the sensation of filling my belly with air. I liken that first sensation of holding my breath at the end of the inhale, floating in the "gap" to filling a balloon to maximum capacity. I imagined my diaphragm to be a balloon. What color? Periwinkle, if you must know.
Balloons soar higher, the fuller they are.
Words project better, the deeper the inhale.
-MD, CEO of Explearning
The deeper breathes you take, the more powerful your voice projection.
After a few more minutes of deep-seated breathing, I made the connection with what my grandmother taught me. You unlock your head voice by tapping into your powerhouse. Your core. The source of that power lies in your diaphragm.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a technique many-a-seasoned yogi, mediator, singer, and stage actor is privy to. In this blog post, I’m going to give you some tips on how to improve voice projection for when you are communicating.
The goal is to speak louder without straining our vocal cords. We’re all about projecting while still protecting our voices.
Here are my 3 tips for voice projection.
Do your breathing exercises
These can be breathing exercises like you would do in yoga or meditation. As you take a deep inhale, visualize the air flowing to your diaphragm. Most of us do not fill our diaphragm with air, so we are not used to yoga breathing. If you've ever taken a yoga class and been surprised to find yourself breathing deeper, this is why.
In order to get accustomed to it you’ll need to practice slow breaths in and out, in and out. Breaths like waves that ebb and flow. Ebbs and flows.
The idea is not for the breath to come out of your chest, but from your belly (which really means breathing from your diaphragm). You don’t want to force it. You want to naturally fill your stomach with air, similar to breathing while asleep when you're not even cognizant of it.
To get into this rhythm, practice lying on your back while doing this breathing exercise. Don’t even overthink it, because the more you try to focus on it, the more you’ll force it, which would be counterproductive here.
Practice breathing this way for 5 to 10 minutes a day. If you build it into your routine, you’ll make time for it. This can even be part of your meditation or yoga practices. Make it habitual, Explearners.
Bottom line: be mindful about your breaths without overthinking or overdoing it.
Find a Monosyllabic Mantra
Stand up and say bababa or mammamamam. Choose a monosyllabic mantra just for you. It can be anything. Be as creative or silly as your heart desires. This is for you and only you.
Once you've chosen this mantra, activate the sound through your core space. Meaning, let it originate from your diaphragm.
Visualize the sound coming out of your powerhouse (it is your core that houses your diaphragm) and it’s being emitted from your head.
Do this standing. It is far less effective if you sat down while practicing this strategy.
The idea here is to visualize and feel the sensation of using your deep breath to speak the words. You should be able to notice a more powerful voice projection if you're doing it right.
Meaning, the words are louder and clear, but not at the cost of your vocal cords. No frayed and exhausted voice pipes here, am I right?
LOL your way there
Just try it. Laugh out loud. It's ok to fake it til you make it, but as you fake laugh you'll segue into a real laugh.
If you can't fake laugh then grab an I Love Lucy episode or your go-to pick me up and revisit this step again.
Find a way to laugh from your belly. The way you can tell if you're laughing from you belly is if the deep laughter is rooting in your gut.
When you laugh out loud, take note of the sensation of laughing from that core space.
Your activating the same muscles you would when taking a deep breathe, which will help us with our voice projection (and voice proTection)!
Note that this is the same place that you breathe into and use your head voice from.
That's it! Those are my 3 tips. That should jump start your ability to command a room. Go out there and be the power house of your dreams, all while using the power house that is your core :)
Think about strengthening and activating your powerhouse, the next time you do your daily exercise. By having a strong core, you’ll more likely feel the sensation of filling your diaphragm with air. Soon enough, diaphragmatic breathing will come as second nature to you, too.
Happy Explearning 🐝