How can something as simple as breathing have such a dramatic effect on the initial impression you make on your audience? Let’s take a look, and use some practical, day-to-day examples.
Have you ever had to stand up to speak at an ‘occasion’? Perhaps you needed to speak a few words at a party, or read a speech at someone’s wedding, even a eulogy – it can be quite a step up when you have to speak in front of clients in a business presentation!
What happens? Your stomach has taken up gymnastics and is doing backward flips, all on its own. Your hands have turned into damp dishrags – please, no-one greet me with a handshake at the moment. You hurry up to the front, you’re going over the words in your head, you immediately started speaking and very rapidly run…out…of…breath, just like I’m doing now…
Very soon, you’re caught in a vicious circle of not wanting to stop talking, whilst also not wishing to embarrass yourself by taking great gulps of air, and so it goes on…your brain is torn between trying to remember the words and staying alive…
So what can we do to avoid hitting that panic button?
Don’t Panic, Relax
Relax. When you walk up to that lectern, that spot in the room, turn round to face your audience, smile, and take a good, deep, breath. You may be worried that a vast chasm of silence has opened up in front of you, and that you have got to, you simply must, fill the gap with words…… But that’s not the case.
Your audience won’t be feeling the same as you do; time is relative. Your audience will simply have clocked that you are there, ready to speak, ready to address them, and by pausing for a moment you’ve a better chance of catching their attention.
Simply taking that breath at the outset makes you look more confident; you’re more poised, you’re engaging their attention, and helping yourself sound more confident. The breath helps lower your diaphragm, lower the tone of your voice, helping you sound more relaxed and authoritative.
Try putting that into practise now, and next time we’ll look at some practical exercises that will help.
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By Ges Ray
Ges Ray, “Speaking in Public” – it’s about confidence… 07941 083722
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