For the professional speaker, there are two factors, working in tandem, that determine the power and clarity of your voice. The first is deep central breathing; the second is
space in the mouth. Think of the mouth as your megaphone.
There must be easy space in the throat and mouth for the sound
to carry without stridency.
You are probably familiar with the word “resonance” as it
applies to the speaking voice. James Earl Jones and Sam Elliott are
both noted for their rich resonance. Viola Davis and Cate Blanchett
are actresses frequently cited as having resonant voices. Resonance
is the voice’s natural amplifier. The aspect of voice known as quality or timbre is directly related to resonance. Resonance is created
as breath bounces around in the hollows of the vocal track: your
throat, mouth, and nasal cavities. If you want a warm, inviting voice
or strong, compelling sound, you need open and free resonance.
Think again about your big, open megaphone. Put your lips
together as you feel a big space open in the back of your throat,
as if you are getting ready to yawn. A tight jaw and tongue, lazy
soft palate, constricted or tight throat, or tension in the lips can
all make the space smaller. Tension anywhere in the vocal track
acts like a trumpet’s mute, muffling sound.
YOUR MOUTH IS
Simple exercises to
develop your resonance
BY RENA COOK, MFA, MA