Breath capacity can allow you to create speech flexibility so you can put your intended spin or interpretation on your delivery. This will help you, especially, if you find yourself running out of breath before you’ve completed your thought or sentence. It’s also beneficial if you normally speak softly and want to project your voice louder to your listeners. Finally, the best tip about managing your breath is having a reset button to reduce your tension and foster relaxation.
The science about breathing reveals that your breathing process can be manipulated mentally and physically by you. Diaphragmatic breathing will give you maximum flexibility. One of the easiest exercises to develop your diaphragmatic breathing process (the diaphragm is located just under your rib cage) is to lie down on the floor in a relaxed manner, place a light-weight book on your stomach area; then breathe in so as to move the book up; then exhale your air so your book returns down. Mentally direct this process until you can do subconsciously. Then you can stand and try it again without having to use a book. Next, add speech on the exhalation for your breath to send those words right out to each listener’s ears.
Vocal projection occurs when you take in more air and pressure release or direct it out to the farthest point in the room. An exercise to expand your capacity is stand and count aloud on the exhalation. Increase how far you can go comfortably before needing a new breath. Your breath is now doing all the heavy work of energizing your words out, instead of your throat area which would only be shouting, not projecting, and would create a sore throat. Rehearse the introduction of your next speech as if you are projecting it to the back of a large auditorium. Be sure to exhale your breath in smaller doses to give yourself enough air before running out. Plan ahead where you need to pause for effect or to take in a new breath.
Take in a new breath slowly right at the start of your presentation and exhale it in order to rid yourself of any tension. Repeat a few times to totally relax your brain, body tension, and vocal muscles; so, you will be confident and in the driver’s seat. Push the breathing reset button at any time during your speech to regain your relaxed and confident persona.
Remember that your diaphragmatic breathing process aided by your intercostal muscles is your best available friend to make your voice sound great and your presentation be heard. Give it a try and let me know how it’s working for you. Here’s to your next voice power speech!
Brenda C. Smith