Years ago, I overheard some presenters claiming that to “pump up” their energy, they would fall to the floor and do a series of pushups before a presentation. I was both intrigued and appalled. Wouldn’t doing pushups render them desperately out of breath? How about the embarrassing sweat marks? Besides, I couldn’t do a push-up if my life depended on it.
Suffice to say I never tried this approach. However, I have effectively used many techniques (potentially even stranger than pushups) to warm up before I present.
The Case for Warming Up Before a Presentation
You must oxygenate your blood before speaking to a group. Oxygenated blood helps to:
- Increase blood flow to the part of your brain that improves mental focus.
- Release serotonin to improve your mood.
- Relieve stress.
You can oxygenate your blood in many ways. The simplest approach is simply to take a few deep belly-breaths. Doing so is subtle, and is invisible to your audience.
However, why stop there? Why not energize yourself fully before taking the stage?
Your Own Private “Preparation Room”
The restroom is your friend. You can perform these three warm-ups behind the door of your personal comfort cubicle. Believe it or not, I use these all the time!
With loose lips, puff air out of your cheeks. See if you can get your lips to flap together. Doing so relaxes not only your mouth, but your entire face.
Totally loosen your cheeks and shake your head rapidly back and forth. Feel your cheeks bounce around. (For fun, try saying “I am not a crook” while doing this.)
Hum, Ha and Yawn
- Gently Hum a single note or a scale with relaxed lips and cheeks. Feel the vibrations resonating through your face and throat.
- To Ha, Take in a full breath. On its release, say ‘haaaaaaa’ gently until you run out of air.
- Yawn widely, without strain. Stretch your entire face. This is a wonderful relaxer!
Preparing to Speak Using Your Full Body
If you’ve tried the “behind the doors” warm-ups, you’re ready for bigger things. I use these activities to pump up my entire energy. I often ask participants to join me, and find that participants love the opportunity to stand up and be active before we formally begin. The energy in the room gets warm and exciting, as well.
Here are some full-body warm ups that you can try:
- Run in place
- Take the Starfish Pose (arms and legs outstretched in the “Power Pose”)
- Do some jumping jacks
- Simply stretch and breathe
I Challenge You
OK, presenters and trainers. I challenge you to try some new warm-ups. They can be subtle or whacky, so long as they loosen you up and prepare you to do your best. Please send me an e-mail describing how YOU warm up, and I may publish the zaniest ideas in the next newsletter. Meanwhile, have fun and remember that warming up is essential to great presenting!