For people the world over, speaking in public is a terrifying proposition. Yet what is more exciting than a talk on a relevant or important issue? Speeches have altered history, started wars, and created national heroes. On a business level, they have aided professional success and helped companies and organizations carry out their mission.
With such a momentous pedigree, you’d think that speaking in public would be an ultra-sophisticated task, approachable only by the best and brightest among us. Yet public speaking isn’t difficult, and it can be exciting and fun. Speech anxiety may rear its head, of course. But even becoming more confident is less work than you might think.
There’s a simple procedure, in fact, that can assure us of greater confidence while contributing hugely to our speaking success. This procedure is in such plain sight, however, that we usually ignore it completely. So here’s the scintillating secret to undaunted and dynamic public speaking:
It’s true that everyday breathing doesn’t help us so much with presentations and speeches. That’s an automatic habit. But breathing for speech requires deeper respiration and a controlled exhalation. So if you’re speaking, you should learn to breathe with the diaphragm. That’s the muscle between your lungs and abdomen that pushes out your abdominal muscles when you breathe in.
Diaphragmatic breathing helps your lungs expand fully so you can speak with power and projection. Here are some other positive effects of breathing with your diaphragm:
- Your heart rate slows.
- You get more oxygen to your brain.
- You look better (without a slouching posture).
- Your voice sounds fuller and stronger.
- You look like you’re in control, not gasping for breath.