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Acquire: Smile

Being asked to smile is among my least favorite things. That said, the upward movement of a smile can add a lift to the tone of your voice. Luckily, you don’t have to keep smiling to reap the benefits.

The muscle we are targeting is called the Zygomaticus Major.

Like most of the muscles of vocal expression, it is a paired muscle group that is primarily responsible for causing the corners of the mouth to rise as when one is smiling. The result is a muscular response in the expression muscles of the eyes and across the zygomatic arch (cheekbones). This response increases the warmth and energy in the vocal tone.

Today, put some lift in your voice by trying this:

  1. With your lips gently pressed together, smile by letting the edges of your lip curve upwards*. Try to make the movement slow and smooth. Hold the smile at its most extended point and then release it. Make certain that your tongue is in a relaxed position with its tip gently touching the back of the bottom teeth. Repeat 5-10 times.
  2. Before entering a meeting or getting on a call, repeat the stretch 3 times to remind yourself to find that lift.

If you practice this, you will find that over time you can feel this muscle engagement without an outward smile. Then you can engage it at will to improve your vocal tone and connection in the room.

*Important note: If this is difficult for you because of nerve function, muscle tension, or unknown causes you can do an assisted stretch.

  1. Use two fingers on either side of your mouth to gently curve them up. It will feel as if you are pressing into the cheekbone. Then continue the motion outward across the cheekbones towards the temples and repeat.

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Gina Razón is the Founder and CEO at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service verbal communication studio in Boston’s Back Bay.  She has over two decades of experience as a teacher of voice and speech, is a communication and change facilitator, and is a voraciously curious voice user.  Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker.  For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit