Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

What Is The Correct Breathing Method When Presenting?

Breathing is such a natural act so normally we don’t pay it much attention.  Somehow though, when we are giving a presentation, our breath control becomes a factor.  One component is our nerves, which are driving the chemical surge through the body making our heart rate skyrocket, which speeds up our breathing.  
Other issues arise as a consequence and we have mental white outs of the brain because we are not getting enough oxygen.  We get lost, become panicky and come across as disorganized and flakey.
Voice is driven on the winds of breath exhalation and lack of breath power impacts audibility.  We are squeaking out to the audience in this little voice that says, "I am not confident. I am not confident!".
We might find that our lack of breath control results in our final words of our sentences just dropping away to nothing.  There is no opportunity to punch out a strong message because we are just vocally doing a disappearing act in front of the audience.
It could also be that we are becoming very breathy when we speak.  It sounds similar to people who have respiratory illnesses and they seem to be always gasping for breath.  Actually they are and so are speakers with no breath control. They simply can’t pull in enough oxygen.
The lack of breath gets transmitted to our cadence of when we speak.  A lack of air means we are confined to short breathy sentences and the lungs are only being filled in a very shallow fashion from just the top.
So how do we stop this and better instruct our instrument – our wonderful voice?  I am going to pass on what I have learnt from nearly 50 years of karate training, where breath control is absolutely vital.  Controlling our nerves is a key part of breath control because if we don’t we are working at cross purposes with ourselves.  One of the techniques for controlling our nervousness is to go through some deep breathing exercises before we go on stage in front of the audience.  We can do these seated or standing and they don’t take very long.
Place both hands on your tummy and just touch lightly.  As you breath in imagine you need to fill the lungs from the bottom most part of the diaphragm.  To help us do this we breath slowly and deeply and we can see if we are succeeding because the hands on our tummy are starting to move forward.  This pushing out of the tummy is a good sign, it means we are doing the deep breath sequence correctly.  We reverse the process and slowly exhale and the hands are slowly drawn back in.  We need to do this slowly, because a bit too much force and speed here and we can become dizzy, as the flood of oxygen to the brain makes us feel lightheaded.
This diaphragm breathing is actually how we should be breathing all of the time and I recommend you start the practice and make it your default habit.  When we in front of the audience they cannot see the breathing rhythm, so there is no need to feel self-conscious.  Every breath we take starts at the lowest point of the diaphragm and we sense our tummy being pushed out and then being pulled back in.  Interestingly enough if we lose the flow and the breath suddenly begins from the very top of the chest, we will feel our pulse rate pick up, our chest tighten and our shoulders start to rise.  This might happen at first before we can master this deep diaphragm breath control but don’t worry.  Just slow the breath down and concentrate on the lower diaphragm and trying to push your tummy out with each inhalation.  Once you do this, the cycle will re-institute it’s self and you will be getting plenty of air.
Correct breath control gives us the ability to make the tonal variations which keep command of our audience.  We can bring power to words and build to crescendos when we want to emphasis particular key points.  It also helps us to relax and look super composed when we are standing in front of people. That confidence is contagious and our audience buys what we are saying.  And that is what we want isn’t it.
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