So, what effect does taking a good
breath have on you? Perhaps more importantly, what effect does it have on your
For you as the speaker, this is what
happens when you start with a good breath:
When you breathe deeply, you are making
fuller use of your diaphragm, which is a dome-shaped muscle separating your
chest from your abdomen. Not surprisingly, this is known as abdominal (or
diaphragmatic) breathing. In itself this is more relaxing than emergency-mode
breathing into the upper chest that is often part of the fight-or-flight
response to stressful situations.
When you breathe deeply, with your
diaphragm helping you to relax a fraction, your voice relaxes. Your voice drops
a fraction as well, a few percentage points deeper, a few percentage points
When you breathe deeply, the pace of
your delivery also drops a fraction. Taking the edge off the speed of your
speaking has a double-whammy effect; as well as helping your audience better
listen to you, better comprehend what you are saying, you also give yourself
more time. Time to find the right words, time to deliver a more comprehensive
message rather than the garbled torrent of words from a rushed opening.
Note the emphasis on fractions and
degrees here. This is about the principle of marginal gains, not dramatic
changes or Damascene revelations. By tweaking the performance of each element
of your speaking, with practice and rehearsal you build your skills, build
yourself into a more effective speaker.
So now return to your audience, still in
their seats, eagerly awaiting your pearls of wisdom. See what effect your deep
breath has had on them. Feedback on you as the speaker could include:
felt more confident in you from the outset, more relaxed, more willing to
listen to you rather than feeling anxious on your behalf
were easier to understand, easier on the ear, more comfortable to listen to
were more able to listen, more able to take on board, more able to comprehend
your opening statements, rather than only really getting to grips with what you
were saying as you got into your stride a few lines in
In essence, you have just established a
handshake with your audience. A good, firm, warm, confident handshake. Just as
when you meet someone for the first time with a warm, firm greeting. A warm,
firm handshake that sets the scene for the rest of your presentation, whilst
you’re only a few seconds in.
Yet all you did was take a good, deep
Want to explore more? Let’s talk,
whether that’s on LinkedIn, email or a good old-fashioned conversation.