So, let’s talk about breathing.
Breathing. Everyone does it. But just like everyone can kick a football, but not everyone does it as well as other people – which is why some of us are destined never to play for a Premiership club!
This short video is a good starting point. It looks briefly at how we breathe and how the hormones that creates affect how confident we are (and how confident we sound!). (Don’t forget you can pause the video if you need to!)
A couple of definitions/reminders
|The voice of the hunted – this is what you get when you’re breathing with your intercostal muscles. Because it’s hardwired to your fight or flight reflex it creates the stress hormones, preparing you to, well… fight or flight… and of course your voice will reflect that level of physical anxiety.||
||The voice of the hunter – is what you get when you breathe with your diaphragm; you sound more as though you’re in charge. Your voice will be lower, calmer and will carry further. In short, you’ll sound more like the kind of person who people want to listen to. Simple. The next lesson goes through some exercises to help you get your breathing in the right place.|
|A quick aside – read these notes and the exercise all the way through before you start to make sure you’re familiar with it. It’s quite long and complicated so you don’t need to have memorised the end of it… just enough to be able to do the next step without having to stop and re-read things again.
It’s all about being relaxed and comfortable doing things. Trying to make progress too quickly will simply back-fire.
Important note – yes I’m saying it again! It’s more important to get these exercises right than it is to make progress. That means that you shouldn’t rush to make progress and should only move on when you’re comfortable and confident about the stage you are at.
Don’t worry – the rest of these notes will make sense when you put them together with the exercise instructions coming up!
Before you start
It’s worth spending a few minutes before you start to
- find somewhere warm, clean and dry
- make sure you’re not going to be overlooked or interrupted – you need to be able to relax
- check you can find a big enough space on the floor to lie down on your back
- make yourself comfortable in terms of having a snack, a drink, whatever… 😉
The actual exercise coming up, after a few common questions…
What body-postures/positions should you do the exercises in?
Each set of exercises should be run through in each of these positions:
- Horizontal – using the floor to flatten your back
- Leaning – using a wall to ‘remind’ you to flatten your back
- Standing – adopting the full posture
What you should say in each of those positions ?
You can improvise around this order to a certain extent, once you understand what it is intended to achieve. Don’t go on to the next stage until you’re reasonably comfortable doing the step you’re on. For example, don’t try moving on to your phone number until you can do the alphabet. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just reasonable.
- Numbers – count up from one, generally to around eight
- Phone number
- Pre-rehearsed lecture/presentation/delivery
- Free speech
|Note that this sequence is designed to take you gradually towards free speech. Moving to this point too quickly increases the risk of technical bad habits creeping in. The idea is to gradually increase the amount of thinking you have to do, so that you still have enough ‘brain space’ left to think about your technique.
One last point If you find yourself in any distress at all, stop. If the problem doesn’t go away, very, very quickly, think about seeing your doctor to check things out. It’s almost certainly nothing, but better to be safe than sorry!
Onwards… Now on to the exercise proper!
|This video shows the exercise being demonstrated (while standing) to a small group of business leaders:
You may find it easier to watch if you pop the video out of this page.
|For detailed instructions, read on below!
|That’s it! Simple! Don’t rush and don’t panic. It might feel odd at first, but you’re not trying to do anything other than what you used to do as a child, when you breathed properly, with your diaphragm!
That’s it! It’s easy – honestly.
Actually it’s not. What it is, is ‘simple’.
But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Losing weight is simple – you just move more and eat less… but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. 🙂 You’ll get it easily enough though, with just a little practice.
By the way, it’s better to do your practice ‘little and often’ rather in one big go. Two or three minutes a day for a few days is better than a 15 minute block, in the long term.