If you were to run a marathon, you would stretch before you began. If you were to golf 18 holes, you pull out the clubs and take a few practice swings or hit the putting green before your tee time. Podcasting also should bring you a warm-up process. You should be warming up your vocal chords and body to get ready for a show. Here are some great warm-up techniques you should try before taking the proverbial stage.
Breathing and Meditating
What? I know how to breath. Why do I need to worry about that?
Actually, the idea of this exercise is to get blood flowing and oxygen into your brain so you can focus and produce a show. For this exercise, it’s best to lay down. Just like with meditation, you spread your arms and legs apart from the body (like 1-2 inches away so you are not touching). If you cannot lie, make sure you are sitting with your back straight. Close your eyes if you can. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it for a second, then exhale through your mouth. Do this as slow as possible and fill the capacity of your lungs. Do this three times. You will find yourself a little more relaxed and loose for a show.
Of course, if you can do a 30 minute meditative session with soft music in the background, that can also be therapeutic and helpful.
Drink 16 oz of Water
The idea is to hydrate yourself for the show. If you have dry lips or a scratchy throat, 16 oz of water can really help. Especially if you just came from doing something physical. Just like lubricating a car with oil, water will keep you from smacking lips or feeling dehydrated.
Open your mouth as wide as you can, hold it, then close your mouth. Open again, wiggle the jaw back and forth, then close. A stretched jaw can have better response – especially if you are reading your podcasts from a script. You can also take your hands and rub your mouth and face. Loosen up those muscles!
Of course, don’t forget the rest of your body. Stretch out the arms, legs and back. The looser you are, the better you feel and the easier it is to record a show.
Using Lotion / Sanitizer
There is this study out there that says washing your hands can clear your mind. It’s a mental thing, which is why we have the old saying “Wash your hands of that”. Lotion can also help, but with lotion, it’s more of hydrating dry skin. A drop rubbed below and on the sides of the eyes can also smooth out lines. It also continues with the rubbing of the face idea. You can also wash your hands or use sanitizer to get you going.
I know podcasters that take showers right before their shows.
Tongue Twisters and Singing
Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers. Sally Sells Seashells by the Seashore. Speaking a tongue twister can get your mouth moving and prepared for speaking to your audience. Better yet, if you can sing a song like “It’s the end of the World as we know it” – REM or “One Week” – Barenaked Ladies, you can pull double-duty. You are not only working out your mouth, but also pulling a little mental warm-up by remembering lines to a song. If you don’t feel like singing, try reciting a poem at a fast pace.
Eye Focus Exercise
Sit down, back straight. Close your eyes, place your hands over them for 20 seconds. When you open your eyes, pick two items to focus on – one near, and one far away. Focus on one item for 10 seconds, then switch to the other for another 10 seconds. Try not to stare at something bright, for that can hurt. A bookshelf, then your microphone (for example). Your eyes will be ready to re-focus when you need them. Switch back and forth ten times, then close your eyes and cover them with your hands.
The idea is to warm up your eye muscles, then stretch them out by focusing on two points. This will help if you have to read a computer screen and scan for keywords.
Practice Common Sayings (Intros, ads, etc)
How do you start your show? Do you just say “Hello, here is the podcast”, or do you have a 200-400 word script that your read from? The best thing to do is memorize those passages and practice them for 5 minutes before your show. What is cool about this is you can do that any time. Practice the scripts in the shower, when you are driving, or if you are sitting, preparing. When it comes out naturally, you stay more relaxed and can focus more on your content. It also can be a hook for the audience. People like “Familiar”. That is why talk show hosts say the exact same thing when they start back up. People will crave that, and if they hear something similar, they might think of your show.
A couple years back, I watched a mini-series called “The Human Face” with John Cleese. In this series, they talked about how visual stimulation can create response. They suggested you put a few pictures of people smiling in front of you. The idea is when you look at them, you begin to smile. A smile can be seen and heard by a podcast audience. Do this right before you plan to start the show.
These common practices can help you relax and prepare to do the work. Less mistakes means more listeners (or viewers) will watch you. It also can lead to less “Umms”, which is a bad word. If you are comfortable, then your audience gets comfortable. That makes for a great show.