Just Breathe!

May 06, 2021

It’s such an innocuous thing – mostly because we do it on autopilot. What am I talking about? Breathing! When it comes to public speaking, we might tend to think the best we can do is keep ourselves from hyperventilating under the stress, but there are a couple of things we can try BEFORE we start panting behind the mic. 

First, we can practice breathing deeply on a regular basis. Place one hand on your lower abdomen and one hand on your chest. Now breathe, noticing how - on inhalation - your tummy moves inward. On exhalation, try to keep your chest steady. It’s amazing how many hours of our day are spent in “shallow” breathing mode. Becoming aware of the difference between taking air in all the way down to the lower parts of our lungs vs. barely pulling in enough to function allows us to be fully oxidated by choice. 

We should also “talk on the breath.” Once our lungs are full, we can use that air to propel our words out into the atmosphere. Opera singers are well-versed in using their deep breathing to project beautiful arias into a waiting audience. Why shouldn’t speakers do the same? Also, there is a better timbre to our voices when they glide on the power of our breath. A hesitant voice gains the sound of newfound confidence! Just for sheer experience, record yourself in both shallow and deep breathing modes and listen to the difference. 

On a final note, and at the very least, during our speeches we should deep breathe at the end of every sentence. Doing so keeps us from rushing through. As we gain more presence of mind, we can grab that coveted breath more and more often – such as at every punctuation or pause. 

If you’re looking around for something to add a boost of power that will enhance your speaking skills, remember to tell yourself two words.


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