The Benefits of Proper Breathing

You’re about to take the podium. Suddenly you’re breathing rapidly or even holding your breath. Stop and take a deep breath: It’s the best thing you can do before speaking.

Proper breathing technique is an essential part of good public speaking. Maria Volante, senior vice president with Dardis Communications, explains why.

  • Breathing is calming.Think how you breathe in yoga class or when you’re meditating. “When we slow down our breathing, we slow everything down,” she says. “That keeps us in the moment.”
  • Breathing fuels volume. As a presenter, you must breathe fully or you won’t be able to project. Your voice might break and you’ll struggle to get your message out. That can hamper your self-confidence—and reduce your audience’s confidence in you.
  • Breathing buys time.Need a moment to consider your next comment? Take a breath. “Breathing lets us buy ‘thinking time’,” says Volante. “It also lets the audience think about what you just said.”

So how do you practice? Deep breaths come from the belly, and if you’re doing it right, you’ll feel your stomach expand.

“Try putting a hand on your stomach to actually feel the expansion,” Volante suggests “Breathe in through the nose for five seconds, hold it for five seconds, then release the breath through your mouth for five seconds.”

Practice this exercise four or more times before your presentation, and you’ll be amazed at how relaxed you may feel.