One of the reasons people contact me is because of lack of air at the podium, in the webinar, or in a sales presentation. So I have a question for you.

  • Do you ever experience breathlessness when in conversation with family, friends or colleagues?

More than likely, your answer is No unless you are very excited.

So what is happening in public speaking that causes you to gasp for air and always feel like you are running on empty? There are three possibilities.

    1. You are nervous. Nervousness can sap your oxygen.
    2. You still believe what you learned in elementary school: you’re not allowed to breathe until you come to some form of punctuation.
    3. You do not remember to breathe.

Nervousness can either be your best friend or your worst enemy in public speaking. If it is in control, then it is definitely not helping you because it increases your panic. This, in turn, places you in the flight or freeze mode. In either one of these states, your upper chest breathing feeds your panic instead of alleviating it.

While your 2nd grade teacher may have told you not to take a breath until you came to the end of the sentence, she had her reasons for saying so. The problem came later in school when you had several lines of sentence and no punctuation. You have something called the ‘speaker’s license.’ Similar to the ‘writer’s license,’ the former means that you can breathe almost anywhere is any sentence. Just as you supplement your air supply in normal conversation, so too should you supplement your air in public speaking. What happens at the lectern, for example, is that we wait until we are totally spent before gasping for a huge amount of air which actually creates more tension than relief. The secret? Supplement your air supply before you run out of it. Another way to look at this is to keep your ‘balloon’ filled instead of empty.

It is interesting that the one thing many novice public speakers don’t think to do is to breathe. Breathing is the last thought on their mind when, in fact, breathing should be one of your priorities. When you pause, take a quick breath. Before you open your mouth to speak, take a breath. And, if you want to do it really well, learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm. It is the best means of controlling your nervousness in any form of public speaking.

Author's Bio: 

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, group and corporate training in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit Nancy's Voice Training Website and watch as she describes the best means of controlling nervousness in any form of public speaking.