Most people know how to breath, but not many people know how to breath in the right way.
Why are we talking about breathing here? Because research shows that deep breathing significantly reduces speaking anxiety by 75%. Plus, breathing is easy to learn!
Let’s start with a discussion of the Anxiety-Breathlessness Cycle. If you pay attention to your breath when you are nervous (you probably can’t), your breath is shallow. This shallow breath will actually make you more nervous, which leads to more shallow breathing…
However, we can stop the Anxious-Breathlessness Cycle by deep breathing!
What else can deep breathing do? It can give us:
- A focused & clear mind
- A balanced position
- A calm voice
Now it’s time to stretch yourself and do three exercises about breathing.
The first exercise is breathing evaluation. Do you breathe from your chest or your abdomen? Feel it. If your belly moves when you breathe, you are doing the right thing!
The second exercise is diaphragmatic breathing. This exercise is very simple. You can do it immediately before the speech. The more you practice this breathing method beforehand, the more you will be able to employ it in your speech unconsciously. There are only three steps.
- inhale from nose
- hold five seconds, count, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
- exhale from mouth
The third exercise is a selective relaxation exercise. Practice this ahead of time so on the big day, you will have a magic spell which can give you a relaxation response.
- Sit comfortably in a quiet place with your eyes closed. Breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Relax.
- Repeat a special word each time you exhale. Let your mind drift freely.
- Tense and relax different muscle groups. Hold it for seconds and feel it.
- Breathe deeply again; repeat a special word as you exhale. Let the muscles relax.
- Repeat the procedures above.