Your jaw can tighten for all sorts of reasons – dirty air, dry air, cold, stress, to silence yourself or habit. And because the mouth is an orifice through which danger can penetrate the body, we often instinctively lock our jaws closed through fear when we perceive danger.
(If you live in South Africa this is an important note for you. It is a country riddled with physical danger and aggression, and so your jaw is very likely you carry a fair amount of tension. Additionally for class, cultural and language reasons we often live with a fear of judgement and so of speaking, which also locks our jaws.)
A tight jaw reduces space in the mouth for the tongue to move, shape and articulate words, and closes down the final gateway through which your voice should release into the outside world.
And as a public speaker / actor / presenter it is your job to get the words out, and to get them out relatively energetically. Do not mumble, grind and squeeze your words and ideas flatly out of a tight jaw. Loosen your jaw and get your mouth open for communication.
With your fingers find where the jaw connects to the skull just in front of your ears. Tense your jaw briefly and you will feel the muscles bulge up. Release the muscles around the hinge and then gently massage them, allowing your jaw to effortlessly drop down and away as you do so.
© Donald Woodburn