One of the most common complaints I hear from novice public speakers is lack of air while public speaking. It doesn’t matter whether you are delivering a speech, giving a presentation, or introducing the next speaker. It also doesn’t matter how long or how short your talk. Lack of air in public speaking is a huge problem that can be rectified immediately if you learn to do one thing and implement it in your next talk.
- Pause and take a supplemental breath before you run out of air – not afterwards.
Yes, it is truly that simple. Unfortunately, most people mistakenly believe that they are not allowed to breathe when standing at the lectern until they come to some form of punctuation or the end of a sentence.
Let me ask you a question. When you are in normal conversation, do you ever run out of breath? Unless, you had just been working out or were extremely excited, your answer is probably No. So why, when addressing an audience, do you not supplement your air supply just as you do when talking to family, friends or your colleagues?
One of the most likely reasons is because of nervousness. Another reason may be because you were taught in elementary school not to take a breath until you had come to the end of the sentence. There is a good reason why your 2nd grade teacher taught you that. It was to keep you from taking a breath after every word in the sentence! You’d be surprised how many children in their formative years try reading out loud in this manner.
You have what I call a speaker’s license which means that you can breathe almost anywhere in a sentence as long as you speak with some color – life, emotion, animation. (Admittedly, if you speak in a monotone, pausing in the midst of a sentence is very, very obvious.) In doing so, you give yourself that briefest of moments to supplement your air supply. By adding to your balloon of air instead of trying to fill an already depleted balloon, you will have much more control over your air supply as well the ability to organize your thoughts.
Pausing is also effective for your audience because it gives them a break to categorize their thoughts. To be hit with non-stop verbiage is tiring for them as well as for you.
If you wait until you are totally spent to take your next breath, you are only adding to your stress. Try supplementing BEFORE you are depleted and you will feel that much more in control of your delivery.
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. To get started improving your presentation skills, click Voice Training and Presentation Skills for Nancy's free ebook.