Shooting vocal arrows | Energizer


TV adaptations of Indian epic mythology, particularly of the Mahabharata, usually involve warriors shooting utterly impractical arrows at each other from ornate bows that are surely the soldier equivalent of a stiletto. Impractical or not, they inspired me to design this energizer which I often use in business and teacher training and that participants find ridiculously engaging.


  • Encourage participants to project their voices more effectively
  • Energize sleepy participants


  • None

Pre-activity prep 

  • This is a really noisy activity. Ensure that the room is soundproof or there aren’t any neighbors to disturb.


  • Divide the participants into two groups and ask them to line up on opposites sides of the room, facing the other group. Make sure there’s a gap of at least 4 metres or more between the two groups.
  • Ask each participant to wave to his or her partner on the other side to identify them.
  • Ask group one to get into warrior position (bow and arrows ready). You can use some culturally relevant banter to set this up. I usually tell my lot that they’re warriors from the Mahabharata on the great battlefield of Kurukshetra, about to slay their opponents with their powerful arrows.
  • Introduce the idea of the vocal arrow. Pull your imaginary bow as if you’re about to release an arrow. When you let go, project your voice on a single word like ‘no’ so that it arcs in terms of energy and volume (noooooooooOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo) across the room to hit someone on the other side.
  • Demonstrate to participants what might happen if you don’t put enough energy into your arrow (NOOOoooo) when the vocal arrow falls short of its target.
  • Ask group one to shoot their arrows at the count of three. Then nominate participants at random to shoot their arrows one by one at their opponents. Ask the opponents if they felt the arrow hit them. If they say no, ask the participants to try again.
  • Get group two to repeat this procedure. Give them a different monosyllabic word like mom.
  • At this point, I usually end the activity but if you have time to kill, you could give them longer words to shoot at each other.

Debrief & action planning 

  • Ask participants to go back to their seats and discuss in pairs how effectively they were able to project their voices and why this might be important in the context of their work (teacher training or presentations at their organization, or public speaking).
  • Elicit suggestions for projecting the voice with greater impact (breathing, posture, opening your mouth, voice clarity etc.)

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