a man standing in front of a purple sign

The Treasure Method

Bob Ewing
September 15, 2023
a man standing in front of a purple sign

Take a moment to warm up your voice before you speak.

Talking Big Ideas.

“People don’t jump out of bed and vacuum.” 
~ George Carlin

Athletes warm up before their games. 

We watch them stretch out and get excited. To paraphrase George Carlin, no one jumps out of bed and heads right onto the field. 

The same should be true for public speakers, but too often we begin our speeches without any vocal stretching. We just get up out of our chairs and start talking. 

We can do better. Consider professional actors and singers, who prepare like athletes. They have rituals to warm up their voices and bodies. Our coach Kim Hemsley, a former actress, learned a long and detailed practice at drama school to get her voice ready before every performance. 

There’s a streamlined warm-up for public speakers I call The Treasure Method. Named for Julian Treasure, a world-renowned communications expert who popularized it. As he says, you should always “warm up your voice.”  

The Method consists of five quick vocal exercises. Together they take less than two minutes. I’ll explain each and then show you a clip of Julian doing them all. 

The Treasure Method: 

  1. LIPS #1: Close your eyes and bring your full attention to your lips. Say “BA” several times in an exaggerated way so you feel your lips stretch as you exercise.  
  1. LIPS #2: Trill your lips like the sound of a boat engine. (Consider Vince Vaughn’s famous demonstration in Wedding Crashers.) Do this a few times until your lips tingle. 
  1. TONGUE #1: Bring your attention to your tongue and say “LA” several times. 
  1. TONGUE #2: Trill your tongue, rolling an “R” sound as long as possible. Repeat until you feel a tingle. Julian Treasure calls this “champagne for your tongue.” (If it’s hard for you, check out the tutorial from Linguisticator.) 
  1. THE SIREN: Begin with an exaggerated “WE” sound in the highest pitch you can muster. Stretch out the vowel portion so it sounds like a little kid on a ride shouting, “WEEEEEEEE!” Without stopping, slide into the deepest voice you can make, growling “AWWWWW.” Repeat a few times. 

I encourage you to try these exercises right now. Do it! Stand up and go through the whole Treasure Method along with Julian as he walks you through it – and pay attention to how you feel:  

The Treasure Method is awkward to do in front of others, and the siren is the most awkward part. When I run through these exercises during our workshops, participants look around at each other and laugh – but always agree the Method is effective. 

Julian begins with a full-body stretch and two deep breaths. The best breath exercise for immediately decreasing stress and focusing attention is the physiological sigh. Add it to your warm-up routine. And if you have time, consider resonant breathing or Tummo as well. 

Make it a habit to warm up before every important conversation, meeting, and presentation.  

To dive deeper, see our articles Delivery Principles & Exercises, How to Control Your Voice, and Quick Checklist for Your Big Talk

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