Section 1.3

Presentation Warm-up Exercises

Below are a few warm-up exercises that can be useful. You may have your own favorites. Do not perform any exercise that causes you discomfort.

Neck stretch

While standing up straight, slowly let your head hang forward so that your chin approaches your chest. Do not force it; just let your head hang comfortably. Rock it gently from side to side. Return to an upright position.

Shoulder rolls

Roll your shoulders forward, up, and back, stretching them as far as they will go in each direction.

Arm swings

Swing your arms back and forth across your chest.

Back and leg stretch

Standing up straight with your feet about shoulder width apart, slowly bring your chin down toward your chest and then keep lowering your head slowly toward the floor. Curve your spine one vertebra at a time, bending at the waist with your arms dangling down toward the floor until you feel a stretch in the backs of your legs and your lower back. Do not force this stretch to a point that is uncomfortable. From this position, move your torso slowly to the left, reaching for your left foot, and then to your right, reaching for your right foot. Return slowly to an upright position.

Wiggles

Yes, wiggles! Gently wiggle every part of your body, keeping it as loose and relaxed as possible.

Making faces

Contort your face in a variety of ways, using as many of your facial muscles as possible.

Yawning

Open your mouth and yawn.

Deep breaths

Breathe in as far as you possibly can, hold for a moment, and then breathe out — all the way out.

Of course, you may not be able to get to a private place to stretch, wiggle, yawn, etc., before you speak. In that case, you can employ subtle variations of these exercises in whatever way may be appropriate to the setting. For example, in any context you can take a deep breath and let your arms hang loosely by your sides, giving a slight wiggle to your shoulders and wrists to ensure that you’re relaxed.

Once you’ve begun speaking, try not to forget about your body. The fact that you loosened up before you started your talk doesn’t necessarily mean you will stay loose. Make sure your hands are not clutching each other, or hiding in your pockets. Avoid crossing your arms; such a pose can suggest a lack of openness. If you are behind a podium, resist the temptation to lean on it or grip its edges, as doing so can harm your posture and limit your range of motion. Check in with yourself as you speak. Keeping your body relaxed and open to impulse will help your gestures stay free and natural.