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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

Just Before Show Time

Stretch Your Face

I’ve done some research on how many facial muscles one uses when speaking. I have yet to really find an answer that can substantiated with facts. According to Wikipedia, there are nineteen facial muscles. How many of them do we use when we speak? Who knows? But I do know we definitely use a few.

To help you articulate your words more comfortably and more smoothly, it helps to stretch your face muscles.

First, find a location where no one can see you, because if people see you doing this, they may have you taken away in a little white jacket, with a drool cup hanging around your neck! Now, open your mouth as wide as you can until it hurts a little all around your mouth. Stretch it for about five seconds, to loosen up the skin and muscles surrounding your mouth.

After those few seconds, repeatedly say, “Why,” with a huge exaggeration of the mouth. Begin with your lips tightly pursed, and open as wide as you can while saying, “Why.” Do these stretches seven to ten times, and open your mouth as wide as you can on each occasion.

Once done, it’s time to reverse the motion. Begin as wide as you can, and say, “Yow,” closing your lips in a tight purse. Repeat this step seven to ten times as well.

Then, over-pronounce each vowel three or four times, stretching your face and tongue on each vowel. This will stretch all of the muscles you use to speak, and loosen the skin around your mouth so the words flow easier as you deliver your speech.

I have to give you a few words of caution about this process. Perform this stretching about fifteen minutes before you speak, and any red marks caused by the stretching have time to disappear before you take the stage.

So, what’s the lesson? Stretch your face for more fluid pronunciation.

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