7 Public Speaking Exercises to Enhance Your Speech Skills

How do you feel in front of a crowd? Are your palms sweaty? Do you find yourself stumbling over words you had lined up in your mind?

Well, glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is the most common phobia worldwide, so you're not alone.

Public speaking is a fantastic skill, but how much work it takes to present a good speech is often downplayed. Your favorite speaker might look at ease on stage, but there are probably at least a few days of practice under their belt.

Luckily, you can polish your skills by doing various public speaking exercises. By the time you’re done reading this post, you'll be a better public speaker.

Best Public Speaking Exercises to Brush Up Your Skills

No matter how good your content is, your audience will only appreciate it if you present it correctly.

Imagine having to give a business presentation that can make or break your company, and you stutter mid-speech. Not a good look. Here are some exercises that you can do to make sure that doesn't happen:

1. Vocal Warm-Up Exercises

Warming up your voice for a public speech has many benefits. These exercises prepare your vocal cords by balancing the air pressure so that you speak more fluently.

The vocal warm-up exercises bridge your head, chest, and mixed voice to create a well-balanced tone while you speak. It is essential to focus on your posture while you do these warm-up exercises, as your muscles need to support your voice entirely. 

Public Speaking Exercises

The following are the warm-up exercises that you must follow step-by-step to improve your vocals:

  • The first vocal warm-up exercise is jaw release. Place your palms on both cheeks and slowly massage the jaw and cheek muscles in circular movements. Also, add the sounds' mamamama' and 'wawawawa' for the warm-up.
  • The second exercise is lip trills that relax the lips by releasing tension. Hold your lips loosely together and keep the air moving through the lips while you try to say 'h' as in 'happen' and 'b' as in 'bad.' 
  • Next are tongue trills that involve your voice and breathing. Place your tongue tip on the gums behind the upper teeth to practice tongue trills. Exhale and vibrate your tongue tip in a trill. Vary the pitch during trilling. 
  • Stretch your vocal cords by starting at a low pitch and going up on the scale with the 'aa' sound.
  • Try lip buzzing by putting your lips together loosely and then exhaling while vibrating your lips. Keep your tongue relaxed while you exhale, and try to vocalize when you trill your lips.
  • Close your lips gently and try humming. Make sure that your jaw is relaxed while you make the humming sound. Gradually change the 'hmm' sound to 'ahhh' while you exhale. 
  • Inhale slowly and exhale sharply while saying a loud 'huh' sound. Your throat and larynx should remain open and relaxed. 
  • Relax your shoulders and maintain a proper posture. Inhale while keeping your shoulders relaxed, and exhale while saying 'hello.' Make sure to expel a little air while you say it. 
  • The last step is to cool down just like you relax after giving a long speech. You can try the humming method to cool down your voice. Hum the 'm' sound for a couple of minutes. 

2. Breathing Exercises

Breathing is the key to better public speaking. Regardless of your voice or gender, there are a few breathing exercises that you can practice to speak more confidently in public:

  • Maintain a proper posture, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your weight should be evenly distributed.
  • Breathe deeply by putting one hand on your chest and the other on the belly button. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. 
  • Try to speak while you breathe. You should be able to form complete sentences.
  • Keep breathing deeply while counting from 1 to 5. Practice exhaling on the starting words of your speech.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and level while you breathe in. 
  • Remember to breathe at the end of every sentence. 

3. Practice Tongue Twisters

If you're still stuttering or mumbling when speaking publicly, it will make it difficult for the audience to understand what you're trying to deliver. 

Tongue twisters are a few difficult phrases you can practice daily before you get to the stage.

They help your tongue get the flow required for a perfect speech. These phrases will help refine your speech so that you remain articulate no matter what you're talking about.

Below are a few tongue twisters to learn and say out loud. Say each sentence three times before moving to the next one.

  • Success seeds success
  • Feel free to follow that fellow
  • A flea and a fly flew up in a flue
  • Susie's sister sewed socks for soldiers
  • Top chopsticks shops stock top chopsticks
  • Of all the smells that I have ever smelt, I never smelt a smell that smelt like that smell smelt.

There are lots of other tongue twisters which you can practice to improve your speech. Tongue twisters consist of similar-sounding words and patterns that make them difficult to say.

All you have to do is to concentrate on what you're saying, and once you practice, you'll have full command of your public speaking content. 

4. Practice Ad-Libbing

A common argument in speech writing is which method creates a better speech, scripting or ad-libbing

Both have their advantages. A scripted approach helps prevent errors in content. However, for some people, ad-libbing gives more freedom and allows the speaker to present naturally.

Sometimes, this natural touch in the speech is lost while using the scripted approach. And even if you do use scripted speech, there are times when ad-libbing is the best option.

However, you must be confident and have fluent speaking skills to ad-lib. Here are a few tips that will help you practice:

  • Express your opinion without delaying it further. To do so, you must have a complete grasp of the topic. This technique is helpful in situations where you cannot remember your scripted lines.
  • Develop an argument using the 5 Ws and H. That is, Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
  • The rule of three allows you to refine your speech. This also gives strength to your opinion. For instance, you can state three reasons to explain your point of view. After starting your first point, you'll also know what to say for the second and third points.
  • Start with the first thing that comes to your mind about the topic.
  • Prepare a few points ahead, so you know what you're going to say or at least have a starting line.
  • Be concise and know when to end the speech. Ensure you don't speak on only one thing throughout the speech.
  • Don't speak too quickly. Take some time to think about the next sentence.
  • Relax and don't panic. Take a few short pauses during the speech.
  • Use your personal experience to attract your audience's attention and empathy.

5. Practice with an Object

Finding a partner or object to practice with does make a difference. You can pick up anything and talk about it to an audience.

For instance, pick up your favorite notebook and explain its features or why you like it. Set a timer and see how long you can speak without stuttering.

Plus, try talking without using fillers such as 'ah' and 'um' that don't have any meaning. The idea behind this trick is to check how long you can speak without using any filler words or taking any pauses.

6. Play Devil's Advocate

People have been using Devil's Advocate for years. Most of the time, individuals use it when clear opinions are needed.

This technique is used when the person has to raise an objection or take a different viewpoint to initiate the argument. This method requires a lot of skills, but in the end, you'll be perfectly prepared for the public speaking event. 

debate

The following are a few tips to practice playing devil's advocate:

  • Talk about the ideas and not the people.
  • Provide logical proof and support your discussion
  • Offer a few alternatives
  • Know that you're speaking for your goals and not your agenda
  • Remember that there's a difference between argument and speech. The purpose is only to highlight your opinion and not to attack anyone. 

7. Record Yourself, Listen, and Correct Mistakes

One of the best ways to learn how to give better speeches is by listening back to them after you present. Record yourself while practicing various speeches when you're first learning how to speak in public.

You'll hear how your voice sounds and identify any mistakes before they happen during an actual performance. You'll also identify whether there are any parts where people seem less engaged than others or even bored.

You can use the feedback to improve your delivery over time so that, eventually, you'll be able to deliver an excellent speech without notes or slides in front of you. Use audio recording software to identify areas where your tone of voice may be off.

Wrapping Up on Public Speaking Exercises!

Public speaking is about the firmness and richness of your voice and all the words that follow. You must remember that the energy of your words and voice should always match. This is important because it ensures no dissonance in your message.

We hope that these useful public speaking exercises gave you some valuable tips to prepare.

Now, there's no need to worry about saying anything inappropriate or forgetting your lines when you face the audience. Following these exercises, you can master the art of speaking and become a professional public speaker.