Breathing is of utmost importance to communicators! People don’t know that the nexus of their power as communicators lies not in their vocal chords but in their lungs. Proper breathing during conversations and presentations can really have wonderful, positive impact on the way you influence people. Now, how can one breathe better even when one has to talk to people for long periods of time?
The secret of great breathing during active speech is breathing from the stomach. You may have heard of martial arts masters who advocate deep, rhythmic breathing – they were right.
The better you breathe the more creative and energetic you become. You have to remember that without adequate oxygen, the brain cannot function well. You need to feed the brain the only fuel it really needs – oxygen!
If you haven’t paid much attention to how you have been breathing these past few years, it’s time to do a personal checkup. Observe how you breathe right now. Is your chest the prime mover whenever you breathe in? If it is the prime mover, then you are doing shallow chest breathing.
That means you are not using the full capacity of your lungs when you’re talking. To counter this bad breathing pattern, visualize that you have a balloon in your stomach and this balloon is inflating whenever you breathe.
Transfer the effort of breathing in and breathing out to this balloon so that your diaphragm will take care of the changes in the air pressure. The chest should only be the secondary mover during inhalation and exhalation.
Also, try to keep your back straight so your abdominal region will be free to expand and contract when you’re breathing. Also, remember to breathe through your nose.
The nose was designed to clean the air that is entering the lungs. Breathing through the nose also helps people breathe more deeply, even during rigorous exercise.
Choose the In-Breath
We all know that we inhale and exhale all the time. But did you know that you can actually utilize the regular movement of air from your lungs to speak more convincingly?
Most people talk when they are exhaling air from their lungs. The result? They feel tired and weary almost immediately after a few minutes. This is the normal consequence if you speak during the out-breath because the body loses even more oxygen when you speak (the lungs are forced to let go of more air).
To illustrate how the in-breath and the out- breath affects your thinking, I’d like you to do a little exercise form. I want you to imagine a red apple. Now, during an exhalation, I want you to describe that apple for me. Take note of the appearance of the apple in your mind’s eye.
Take notes if you have to. After that, I want you to inhale and do the same. What did you notice about the appearance of the same imagined apple in your mind’s eye?
Did the appearance of the apple change during the in-breath? Nine times out of ten, you probably saw a dark and wrinkled apple during the out-breath and a fresh, crisp apple during the in-breath.
There are some variations in the appearance but most people would say that the imaginary apple looked its best during the in-breath. The reason for this is that during the in-breath we feel fresh, relaxed and creative because the brain is receiving lots of oxygen. That’s what we want to tap into when you are expressing yourself.
Rhythmic breathing from the stomach can really bring out your best ideas and your best body language. Also, you need to start talking during the in-breath. It might take some practice, but you will be able to do it naturally after a short period of time.
Talking during the in-breath will ensure that your ideas and body language will be excellent during a conversation or presentation. When you start talking during the in-breath, you will feel good and your audience will see that you are relaxed and confident about what you are saying.
Eventually, you will be able to establish rapport or harmony with your audience. Your audience will begin to match your movements and even your breathing pattern.
This mirroring is unconscious or subliminal in nature. Your audience won’t even know that they are copying the way you breathe!