Despite all the online chatter, talking to people face-to-face is
still the most powerful way of getting a message across. Yet, possibly
through nerves or inexperience, we often find we are sabotaging our own
So, there you are, standing up in front of an expectant audience who
are waiting for you to say something engaging and interesting in a
confident, relaxed and clear voice. Understandably you’re tense. The
tension makes your voice reedy and unconfident, too high or too soft and
the lack of clarity makes you feel you’re not getting your message
across. Your audience sense your difficulty and noticeably shift in
their seats - increasing your tension – a vicious circle.
The solution, as with most things to do with the voice, is in the
breathing. I know, I know you’ve been breathing all your life and it
seems to come pretty naturally, but in this case you actually need to
think about it …and practise.
Stand up straight with the shoulders relaxed, feet firmly grounded,
knees not locked. Breathe out through the mouth and then, on the
in-breath, imagine the air is going in through your belly button filling
the lower part of the lungs. (Generally we only use a third of our
actual lung capacity). Once the lungs are full, breathe out slowly
through the mouth letting the air out in a controlled manner with a
constant flow over a slow count of 10. Repeat this process trying to
increase the count gradually to 12, 15 or even 20.
The more often you practise the sooner it becomes second nature; your
voice will be more supported by the air in your lungs and will help you
sound more controlled. It also relaxes you. Relieving tension in your
voice and body, which in turn makes you sound and feel more confident.
That nasty little vicious circle is now a positive circle.So, next time you have to present an idea or make a speech take a moment to brush up on your breathing before you begin.