Pump Up Your Speaking Voice with a Strength Training Workout

Does your voice convey confidence and conviction every time you speak?

Or does your voice need strength training?

A Six Minutes reader whose career depends on a strong, confident voice sent in this question:

“One thing I need help in is voice control.  For some reason my voice quivers.  Is there some kind of exercise that may strengthen my vocal cords? Any ideas what may contribute to that?

Also, as a Realtor, I encounter the quivery voice as I’m talking with my clients and it conveys an impression of not being sure of what I’m saying.”

Your Speaking Voice

The voice is made up of muscles, cavities, tissues, nerves, fluids, etc., just like the rest of you.  It can produce at least 325 different pitches. There are more nerves in the muscles of the larynx than any other muscles in your body, with the exception of your eyes. In addition, you use three quarters of your body when you speak a word, and even a stubbed toe can affect the sound of your voice.  So it’s not surprising that your voice can be adversely affected by excitement and stress.

Just as with the rest of your body, some people naturally have more vocal strength, while others need to pump up theirs just to keep up with their daily vocal requirements.  I cannot know the exact cause of the reader’s quivers without speaking with them, but it is likely that the cause of their quivering voice is either nerves, or lack of vocal strength, or both.  Regardless of the case, voice training using proper vocal exercises can make a world of difference in both control and endurance in the voice.

Unless you are a voice practitioner, or have studied with a voice professional (which I highly recommend!) you may not know what proper vocal exercises are. So here is a mini-workout that you can use every day to get your voice in shape and get control of those tremors, quivers, and flips when you speak.

A Strength Training Workout for Your Voice

  1. Breathe deeply and exhale on a hisssssssing sound.  Repeat 10 times.
    • Proper breathing is the foundation for a healthy voice AND control over nervous energy that can make the voice quiver.
  2. Say “Mm-mmm (as in yummy) Mmm-hmm (like yes) ” Repeat 5  times.
    • This develops mask resonance, which creates a clean and vibrant sound by creating a clean approximation of the cords and a resonance that will sound great and project easily.
  3. Say “Mm-mmm.  Mmm-hmm.” up and down your vocal range, from low to middle to high and back again, 10 times.
  4. Raise your volume a bit and say “Mmmmmmmmy name is…” Repeat this ten times up and down your vocal range.
    • This enhances vocal flexibility and coordination.
  5. Say “Ney, ney, ney, ney, ney” loudly but without yelling 10 times up and down your vocal range.
    • This is more mask resonance training.
  6. Starting at mid range, make a siren sound with Oooo and Eeeee by sliding down your vocal range several times, starting higher each time.
    • Again, the focus here is on more flexibility and coordination.
  7. Say “Mmmmmmm” until you feel a buzzy sensation in the front of your face. Repeat 5 times.
    • Mask resonance again.
  8. Now, for isolation of muscles for articulation, try some tongue twisters like those below.  To get the full workout, say them each several times but only as fast as you can go and keep them clear.  You can increase your speed over time:
    • The blue bluebird blinks.
    • Three free throws.
    • What time does the wristwatch strap shop shut?
    • Strange strategic statistics.
    • Freshly fried flying fish, freshly fried flesh.
  9. To bring it all together, speak a few sentences out loud.  Use an opening or closing of a talk, a favorite poem or long quote, or song lyrics.
  10. Every good work out needs a cool down.  End with 5 more big, deep breaths.
Vocal Delivery Article Series

Taking Your Vocal Workout to the Next Level

The workout above will help you get some awareness of your voice and start to strengthen it.  To go to the next level, I recommend the following:

  • Practice your speeches out loud.
  • Warm up your voice everyday, but especially before public speaking. Ideally, spend as much time practicing as you will in front of an audience.
  • Learn to breathe properly and apply that technique to your public speaking.
    See Breathing: The Seductive Key to Unlocking Your Vocal Variety
  • Hum a lot.  Explore and develop mask resonance.
    See Speak Up! A Guide to Voice Projection
  • Take a singing class or private singing lessons. This is true strength training for your voice.

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Comments icon53 Comments

  1. Ravi Moosad says:

    I have a very weak voice and its one of the issues always pointed out by my speech evaluators. I will definitely try these methods. Thanks for the tips.

  2. I too suffered from a quivering voice when speaking in public. I found 2 ways to overcome this: Breathing exercises and confident self talk. For breathing, find exercises online that suit you but for the self talk I would say and continue to say before I speak: You don’t get too many opportunities to blow an audience away with how good you are, go out there and do it. But the secret to overcoming nerves is practice, practice and practice your speech again!

    1. Sunny says:

      Thanks Michael

  3. Akanksha says:

    I always knew there was a problem in my voice. Initially I thought it was my lack of confidence and less public speaking that resulted to one. But over the years, even when I made a profession that requires lot of speaking; I realised – it’s not about confidence. My vocal chords needed help, so I thought yoga or some doctor could help. One of these random days of endless search on correcting the problem lead me to this page with a big realisation – my voice chords are so weak, that even if I don’t talk for 2 hours; the moment I try doing, my voice lets me down. Thank you so much Kate for this article and I hope your stated exercises will restore my confidence which keep getting battered coz of the let down.

  4. Ron Ang says:

    I am teaching migrants to speak English voluntarily in a Sydney church but I have serious voice clarity due to earlier working condition where I had to seriously strain my voice to instruct clients at a sheltered work shop. Can you help

  5. sid leonard says:

    Do your vocal exercises help improve the aging voice (presbyphonia)? I am 78 years old and beginning to notice the effects of age on my voice. Thank you.

  6. Kelvin Igie says:

    My voice gets crack and feel cough inside, and my communication ceased. My audience don`t hear me clearly.

    Pls what can i do?

  7. Pete J. Alvarez says:

    I just had some plops removed from my left vocal cord and my voice is still rough.
    Thanks Pete

  8. Roslyn Booker says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to relay this detailed and extremely helpful information. I teach Sunday school both for adults and children and am in desperate need of this kind of coaching.

  9. Meg says:

    Need help projecting in conversations so i feel i am heard.

  10. Sarah says:

    When you say to go from low to high in vocal range, do you mean volume or key?

  11. Nazmun says:

    Thanks. Awesome tips for Speaking Voice.

  12. Sharon says:

    I have had a stammer since the age of 4 i have been on several courses & gained a certain rate of fluecy but my voice is getting weeker & weeker making it hard to make myself heard With the week voice & a stammer its near impossible as i can not get Any speech therapy as i do not fallinto the right criterior heres hopingbyou can help me Sharon Mckay i am noow 56

  13. My husband is quite weak at his singing talent. I will surely recommend this guide to him. Between you have greatly explained each step in details. Thanks for sharing

  14. Just as actors do, anyone can develop the sound of their voice through mask resonance. Before the mask can resonate, the vibrations have to be first placed on the front of the hard palate.

    Here is another article to help your readers develop mask resonance. http://www.self-expression.com/speaking-freely/how-to-have-a-good-voice-for-public-speaking-and-group-communication/

    As Kate suggests, it is the sound vibrations resonating in the front of the face that make the voice beautiful.

    Sandra Zimmer

  15. Guy Riccardelli says:

    After a vocal operation, I started having problems in speaking clearly. The operation was to correct my vocal cords in that they were widely spread open. The doctor put stint like items to try to keep my vocal cords closed when I would speak. It was fine for a time but, after a year or so, I was back with a raspy voice. I require some vocal exercises to strengthen my vocal cords so they are properly placed. I need some help with this problem because it is becoming a major problem for me. Thanks,
    Guy Riccardelli

    1. Christian says:

      I feel exactly as you do, one of my vocal cords doesent properly close. Have you found any solution to this problem, did you renervate or what operation did you try. Thank you appreciate your words

  16. Esther Kariuki says:

    I am starting public speaking and I found my voice weak. I have started using your tips and I am finding them very helpful.
    Esther.From Kenya

  17. Rachel says:

    Some important information is missing from this article, something that no amount of vocal training can help.

    For a good, strong voice (singing or talking), you need to:

    – Drink lots of water
    – Don’t smoke
    – If you have public speaking to do and want to sound bold and loud, avoid alcohol beforehand or spicy food (and basically anything that will promote acid reflux)
    – Mint is not good for your voice, avoid it if at all possible.

  18. Ron Norris says:

    I have recently lost the ability to speak fluently, I think I may have had a mini stroke in my sleep. I now speak in a monotone. I feel trapped because I find any speaking difficult.

    You can’t imagine!

    I’m doing all your exercises to try to get back to normal speech. Thanks, Ron.

  19. I am a jazz singer recovering from vocal cord surgery due to left vocal cord paresis. This article was very helpful for me. Thank you.

    Cynthia Holiday

  20. Train your voice and body simply like an athlete.Drink water to keep your body all around hydrated, and maintain a strategic distance from liquor and caffeine. Before singing you ought to warm up without fail. Vocal activities are vital to making your vocal harmonies slacken up and empowering them to vibrate all the more freely. Utilizing right breath control is basic to keeping your voice in tip top condition.

  21. Jan Jones says:

    Do you have a book that I could buy and carry with me for instruction? Thank you!!

  22. Ann Irvine says:

    I have vocal Dystonia would any exercises help me please

  23. Sharon says:

    Could you tell me of a coach near me I have had problems with my speech since the age of 4 various speech courses but have lapsed back when therapy ended mynvoice is now very week & I finfpd it hard for people to understand me as its very squeaky I have had a stammer but this dosent help,matters as you will,appreciate . I live in East Sussex uk also have epilepsy unable to drive so need something in Battle, Hastings , Bexhill , Eastbourne Thankyou Sharon McKay

  24. Jim Habbond says:

    I love it! I’ve been working on my voice for months now, and I can’t wait to give these a try. I’m sure it will help at least a little. Thanks!

  25. rajesh kumar says:

    Speech recognition and difficult problem with me

  26. Jack Hibbons says:

    These are absolutely great tips! Thank you for sharing. I’ve been looking up quite a bit of related material online, trying to find my voice before taking class and all that, and these tips I think we’ll go a long way for me. Thanks!

  27. Mayur says:

    My voice is so hourse.what am I do to overcome from it..hoursness in my voice is from long time about 6 years..plz suggest me what can I do for.I consult many doctor but still hoursness is not gone..I hope your reply is come soon as possible

  28. Afzaal Ahmad says:

    My voice is very low just like ladies. I got typhoid fever my teenage from that time I have very low voice I try my best to gain the actual voice but fail. Please help me how can I improve my voice. Advice any medicine please

  29. Try not to avoid the warm up. Warm up your voice everyday, Begin at Middle C on the piano and gradually work your way all over the scale. Know your reach and its limits. When singing, your breathing ought to be profound, low, and supported. spend as much time practicing as you will in front of an audience. Get help of private Famous Vocal Coach for Raise your hard sense of taste with every breath to open the throat.

  30. Laxmi says:

    Tx for the tips

  31. Try not to avoid the warm up. Warm up your voice everyday, Famous Vocal Coaching said that Finding a voice is not an easy task. Know your reach and its limits. When singing, your breathing ought to be profound, low, and supported. spend as much time practicing as you will in front of an audience.

  32. jiby says:

    My vocal cord has a gap…. So bass sound..and cannot speak in loud voice…

  33. Hi there
    this is a good article.
    Thank you for share it.

    Best Regards
    Amir Mostafa

  34. Courtney Hickman says:

    Would love more literature from you. This was very helpful thank you!

  35. Keith says:

    Please help, I have a low voice and I don’t know what to do to increase my volume, I’m frustrated with my self, what can I do so that while speaking, people can hear what I say,

  36. shakeel says:

    looking for courses and seminars for strength and quality of voice. i am also interested ion managing or treating stuttering.
    hope i am right place.

  37. MEL LIPPMAN says:


  38. Jeanne says:

    Love the exercises. I’d never thought of voice control as I’m not a singer but as I’m aging my voice is sounding gravelly

  39. GLENDA D Brookbank says:

    Looking forward to improving my speaking voice!

  40. Z Chaudhry says:

    I need voice and presentation coaching.

  41. Briander Behl says:

    If I am having trouble with speaking fast and end up muttering some words or sentences, would this exercise help me in avoiding the muttering if I speak fast again?

  42. Yasmeen Moolji says:

    What ever I read I loved it. I have a problem with my vocal chords so I would love to read these articles.

  43. Yasmeen Moolji says:

    What ever I read I loved it. I have a problem with my vocal chords so I would love to read these articles.
    I had gall bladder surgery & my anesthesiologist chopped
    off part of my vocal chord. It has been a year I’m still suffering & struggling with
    my voice. I have low self esteem & I try to avoid family gatherings. Thanks for the help.

  44. maria harding says:

    i am 74 and since i developed astmah my voice has started to vanish. my singing voice is now non existent but my speaking voice is very weak also,
    do you think you could help and instruct me on how to improve this. My husband is very deaf so you can imagine the problems.

  45. Sylvester Abel says:

    I acknowledge your write up and i would appreciate you , if you help me train my voice. Am gifted in writing song but my voice is not too good.

  46. Steve L says:

    This has helped me tremendously. Thank you!

  47. RAJ R says:

    This is really of great help. Thank you for providing such a useful stuff.

    One request. Can you please
    share the actual recorded exercise for “A Strength Training Workout for Your Voice” from step 2 to 6.
    I am not clear on how to do the exercise based on written content.

  48. Thank You for sharing these tips. I have tried saveral including Mmmm… sound. It works well.

    This sound may also be used in meditation, which also help our mind to control the voice.

  49. James says:

    Hi Kate,
    The ten (10) suggestions regarding “strength training workout for the voice” was immensely informative. However, I suggest you produce demonstrative videos showing how these exercises could be executed so as to drive home the points. It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

  50. Pradeep kumar says:

    Kate Peters madam,
    Heartly thanks for your blog. I used your exercise for my voice improvement.my language is Hindi. It’s very effective for me. My voice improve after some days exercise.some confusion for exercise n. 5 and 6.please tell me actuall pronounciation –ney and oo.

  51. Hi this is some imfo for you as a vice proffetional .
    I am 62 years old man I was born with ombilical chord around my larynx ,so this was who created dammage in the larynx ,it is stiff
    And his funtion is not working properly .
    They found out that in several years of investigation .
    I get soar and inflamation on them
    Avery night I go to bed with no voice and dramatic feelings ,pain and disconfort.

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