You may know that comedians have to learn to time their quips to be successful. Well, so do singers. But what I'm talking about is something that should happen before you make a sound. A vocalist needs to lift the ribcage and the inside of the throat and mask (which includes the nasal passages behind the eyes) before pulling sound through the vocal instrument to the audience. Actually, you should experience feel flexibly tall and ready to communicate something. This way, you inhale almost effortlessly and you experience the open - not tight - throat when you use correctly compressed breath to sound your instrument.
The voice path imagery I recommend is one originally suggested by voice teacher Jeffrey Allen. It's a hook- or question mark- shaped path that begins in the pelvic floor (POWER), goes back to a spot above and behind your head (PATH), and then connects to the audience (PERFORMANCE) by the articulation of the word. This feels like you're pulling the word, not pushing it, no matter how hard or long you need to sound the note. I guess it's obvious how this relates to my teaching method Power, Path & Performance.
At a vocal lesson with former boxing champ Memphis Cole, I suggested he think of this as leading with the LIFT (instead of the left). He gets it very, very well indeed, as his blooming career is showing. However you think of it to make it natural for you, it's non-negotiable for great singing.