Presentation Skills: Don’t forget to breathe!

Presentation Skills: Don’t forget to breathe!

A common problem for anxious presenters is talking too quickly, shaky voice and running out of breath. You’d think we all know how to breathe, wouldn’t you? But chances are unless we are musicians, singers, athletes or we’ve completed some good presentation skills coaching, we don’t know how to control our breath – and that’s something that makes a huge difference to our presentation skills.

During your presentation, regulating your breathing is a great way to:

  • have a relaxed not strained voice
  • be able to project more effectively
  • make your breath will last longer
  • eliminate embarrassing gasping
  • avoid breathlessness
  • regulate your talking speed
  • create a calm state of mind
  • feel less nervous and more in control.



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In the short term, if you start to talk too quickly, or feel short of breath when speaking, take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, then a normal breath, and continue. (If you’re wearing a microphone, do it quietly – as you don’t want to sound like Darth Vader!). You can disguise this action if you want to, by taking a moment to check your notes.

In the long term, your breathing plays a huge role in the success of your presentations. Slow and measured breathing is characteristic of control and that’s the characteristic you want. Prepared, ready and in control.

Learning how to breathe through your diaphragm is a sensible starting point

Here’s how to know if you’re breathing correctly or not:

1. Stand with your back straight, shoulders back, and feet hip-width apart, place a hand on your chest

  • Take a deep breath in through your nose
  • Notice if you feel your hand remaining still or is it being pushed out and upwards?
  • Breathe out and repeat

2. Next place a hand on your stomach

  • Take a deep breath in through your nose
  • Do you feel your hand remaining still or is it moving out as your stomach goes out?
  • Breathe out and repeat

If you are breathing correctly when your hand is on your chest you should not experience much movement. When your hand is on your stomach and you breathe in you should feel it expanding. Functional breathing is evidenced by us using our diaphragm (not the chest) to breathe from, meaning that our stomach (side and back) is expanding as we breath in and fill that area with air and appears to be pushing out.

When we were younger, we were likely to be breathing correctly, but over time we form bad habits and many adults tend to breathe incorrectly. If you watch animals breathing, they are doing it correctly – you’ll see their stomach and sides expand.

But because the diaphragm is an involuntary muscle, we can’t just command ourselves to breathe correctly we need to learn how to access it first and in our presentation skills training, we teach and allow you to experience the Low Relaxed Breath. Then we show you how to access that whenever you need it in the future. Then you can practise at home to increase breathing strength and technique; in time, relaxed, functional low relaxed breathing will become second nature.

But ultimately, remember “Breathing is essential – DON’T STOP!”

Team training with personality profiles

Simply Amazing Training also offers Insights Discovery (colours) personality profiles; this uses a simple, effective and usable model to understand an individual’s unique preferences and those of the team. If you want to give your team even more tools to be successful or fancy a change of pace for your conference or team meeting then get in touch. I deliver “colourful” interactive workshops on Insights Discovery which are tailored to your needs and leave participants feeling inspired.


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Dee Clayton

Posted by Dee Clayton on 14 Jan 2020

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