38: Voice Placement Techniques to Speak Naturally.

Speak from the nose to mouth ‘mask’ area for more impact as Real Talking Tips Episode 38 kicks off a new 4-part mini-series focused on speech Voice Placement. This first episode in the series demonstrates how to unite the breath, resonance, and emotion in your natural speaking voice.

The air flow or intake of breath begins in the bottom half of the body, moves up through the stomach area, into the lower-ribs and spine area, so the dome-shaped diaphragm muscles push the air up and out through the mouth. Breathing properly aids in connecting emotions to the spoken words.

The mask area also benefits from resonance. So we’ll warm up the resonators, too. [You can refer back to the 2nd episode of Real Talking Tips and my Elaine Clark app, Activate Your Voice for additional resonance information and practice tips.] Use these Voice Placement tips to add more strength, beauty, and emotion, to your natural ‘mask’ voice.

Practice along with this Real Talking Tips video, podcast, and blog, my Elaine Clark app, Adding Melody To Your Voice, and my best selling books, There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is and Voice-Overs for Podcasting. For an effective 5-minute warm-up before speaking, use the Elaine Clark Activate Your Voice app!

Click the video to watch or select the audio podcast by clicking start or selecting the audio player in the icon below.

38: Voice Placement Techniques to Speak Naturally.

Real Talking Tips Episode 38 kicks off a new 4-part mini-series focused on Voice Placement. It adds another layer of speaking tips to those discussed in earlier episodes where we practiced sing-talking, keeping the voice inside a designated speech and movement power box area, and performed voice improvement exercises to increase resonance, breath support, articulation, and enunciation to develop a stronger speaking voice.

Throughout the day the voice changes. In the morning, the voice’s musical pitch is often lower than how it sounds in the middle of the day. For many people, the lower voice returns again at the end of the day when tired or fatigued. Conversely, when excited or nervous the voice pitch tends to rise to higher musical speaking notes. In this first Voice Placement episode, we’re going to concentrate on the middle voice placement area that is often referred to as the ‘mask.’

Speak from the MASK
#1 Voice Placement: Speak from the ‘Mask’.

The natural speaking pitch, tone, and voice is in the center area of the face from the nose to the mouth. That speech mask area is pretty much the same area that a face mask covers! People with soft, thin, or diffused voices that spread out rather than move up, forward, and out often lack breath support and resonance so the speaking voice is harder to hear, especially in noisy environments.

Breath support can move the voice into the mask. The air flow or intake of breath should begin in the bottom half of the body, move up through the stomach area, into the lower-ribs and spine area, so the dome-shaped diaphragm muscles can push the air up and out through the mouth.

One way to check and see if you’re talking on the breath, is to feel the air rise from the bottom, get pushed up, and expelled outward along with the spoken words. Emotions are also carried in the breath. So, uniting the voice and breath adds emotion and attitude to the message. To take advantage of this physical and emotional connection, let a little bit of air out before speaking.

The mask area needs the resonators warmed up, too. Push the air up and out while the lips buzz as you say M, (mmmmm) N, (nnnnnn) L, (llllllll) and V (vvvvvvvv). We worked on resonators in Episode 2 and hopefully you downloaded my Elaine Clark 5-minute voice and diction app, Activate Your Voice so you have a handy warm-up in your pocket.

Activate Your Voice App


Opening your mouth helps, too. Speech coaches and directors often instruct speakers to ROLL THE WORDS AROUND IN YOUR MOUTH. What does that mean? Try this exercise. While voicing an ‘M’ buzz, circle your finger forward and back and adjust your lips to match the outward and inward finger rotation.


Another suggested speech term is to CHEW THE WORDS. For that, say the following 5-word ‘m-buzz’ series. Move your hand in a circular rotation and feel the lips buzz and the resonance circles inside your mouth.

Hum. Numb. Drum. Strum. Crumb.

With the resonators warmed up and the breath supported from the bottom and escaping out before speaking, linger on the ‘m’ resonance at the beginning of the sentence.

(Breath & M buzz) “I’m talking on the breath.”

Talking from the ‘mask’ area can improve the natural pitch and strength of your speaking voice.

Talk on the Breath... to Move the Voice Forward

Talk On The Breath To Move the Voice Forward.

Now it’s your turn to practice the following ‘Mask Voice’ awareness exercises.

1. First, record yourself saying this sentence without breath support, resonance, and speaking on the breath or pushing the voice forward and out.

Unsupported: “I’m talking from the mask.”

2. Now, start the breath from the bottom of the body before saying the line.

Breath Support: “I’m talking from the mask.”

3. Add a little bit of air out before speaking to unite the breath and the voice.

Breath Support + Talk on the Breath: “I’m talking from the mask.”

4. Begin with Bottom-Up breath support, expel a tiny bit of air to unite the breath and the words, and take advantage of the first resonant letter sound by adding a buzz.

Breath Support, Talk on the Breath, and add Resonance (an M-buzz in this sentence on the ‘m’ of ‘I’m’): “I’m talking on the breath.”

When you listen back, you should heard the voice become clearer, more focused, and stronger. Keep working on improving your ‘mask’ voice so your ears and body can distinguish the difference and make adjustments when needed.

Remember that whenever you take a quick chest level catch breath and talk… Example: (gasp) “I’m talking on the breath” … you’re actually NOT talking on the breath or taking advantage of your beautiful, natural ‘mask’ voice.

Join me next time in Real Talking Tips Episode 39 for the second Voice Placement lesson.


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