Breathing. It’s something we do every day, all day. Why would we ever need to consider such an automatic function? Because breathing does more than just keep us alive. The air in our lungs is also what fuels our voice. If you are anxious about public speaking, assessing your breathing, is a good place to intentionally focus. And, even if you aren’t anxious about public speaking, breathing is a tool you can use to make your voice even stronger.
When all eyes are on you, you may begin to breathe more quickly and take shallower breathes. Your body is sensing danger and getting ready to bolt. As you breathe more rapidly, you are breathing shallower and this means you are taking in less oxygen with each breathe. This can produce two things, 1) a heightened feeling of anxiousness or panic and 2) less vocal volume. Obviously both of these will work against you as a speaker. You want to remain calm and in control. You also want to
produce enough volume to be heard by the people in the back of the room. So what do you do?
Yes, you just breathe. And breathe deeply and slowly. Box breathing is and excellent technique. Box breathing is simply breathing in for a count of four, holding for four counts, exhaling for four counts, holding for four counts and then starting again. This technique will slow your breathing down. If you’re fearful or anxious, you tend to breathe quickly. Slowing your breathing down will communicate to your brain that you are actually not in a stressful situation. You are using the body to trick the mind. Secondly, focusing on your breathing will ground you in the present and take your mind off your remarks. You won’t be imagining doomsday scenarios because you’ll be counting and breathing.
To really make this breathing exercise work for you, you want to employ diaphragmatic breathing or “belly” breathing. Place your hand on your belly button. Your stomach should push out as you fill your lungs with air. Fill up and use your lung capacity. This abundance of air will then give you capacity to produce more volume as you speak. The act of speaking is when air rushes past your vocal cords. The more air, the easier it is to produce volume. If you want to instantly sound more confident, increase your speaking volume. When someone is soft spoken, he or she make come across as timid and not confident. Likewise, as an audience member, if you can’t hear the speaker, you’ll just tune out. The same is true for your audience. Do all you can to insure they can hear you. It starts with breathing.
Breathing, the simple secret for you as a powerful speaker.