One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is that they run out of air in public speaking. This may be a problem for you as well. Do you know why this is happening? Many who teach public speaking will tell you it is because you are nervous. Certainly nervousness exacerbates the problem but it is not the cause.
The reasons you are breathless in public speaking are because:
1. you do not allow yourself to breathe;
2. you do not think to breathe; and,
3. you wait until you are totally spent before gasping for your next breath.
Let me ask you a question. In your day to day conversation with family, friends, and/or colleagues, do you experience breathlessness? Most people, in fact 99%, will answer No.
So why, then, is breathlessness a problem at the lectern or the head of the boardroom table?
The first thing you should do before beginning your speech or presentation is to take a breath and then supplement your air supply all the while you are speaking. Forget the elementary school rule that says you are not allowed to breathe until you come to some form of punctuation. You were taught that in 3rd grade so that you could learn to read out loud without being choppy when you spoke. And, in the 3rd grade there were only 6 words in your sentences!
You have what is known as a speaker’s license. You can breathe practically anywhere in a sentence. In fact, you do it in normal conversation and never think twice about it. There are only two times I have found where a breath is not warranted:
1. when saying your first and last name; (my name is Nancy – breath – Daniels) and,
2. when saying the name of your company if it is more than one word. (My business is Voice – breath – Dynamic).
Those are truly the only times you should not interrupt yourself to breathe. As you can see from those two examples, interrupting your name or your business name to take a breath is most awkward.
However in the following sentence I don’t know how to do it, you can take a breath after any one of those words and it will work if you speak with some form of expression. (Admittedly, it is much more difficult to accomplish this if you speak in a monotone.)
Breathlessness should never be a problem if you remember to breathe, allow yourself to breathe, and supplement your air supply as you speak.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Voice Dynamic.