How often has someone told you, “Take a deep breathe, and start speaking/singing” This common advice is incorrect!
Try it for yourself. Take in a deep breathe and pay attention to your muscles. Do you feel tension anywhere?
Do you feel any uncomfortable sensations anywhere in your body?When I take in a deep breathe, I feel my chest tighten up and my shoulders lifting up. Now, this is NOT a position that I would ever advocate, especially if someone is going to stand up and speak at a meeting. Check out the breathing myths I have covered in my previous blog.
How then should someone breathe, or prepare when they are about to give a speech?
First, let us look at the common breathing problems that many speakers face:
- Not being able to get your voice out: This usually happens when the speaker is nervous that he will run out of breathe, and takes a huge inhalation, locks the chest, and then naturally feels constricted and produces a strangled tone of voice.
- Running out of breathe : This usually happens to speakers/singers who use too much pressure on their speech, particularly the unvoiced consonants. The use of their body is such that the lungs are not able to expand to their fullest and their rib cage is slumped.
- The audible GASP : This happens when the speaker takes a sharp intake of breathe inbetween speaking, which is audible to the audience. The gasp is a noisy and inefficient way of taking a breathe and it doesn’t help to keep the breathe under control.
If you do any of the above during speaking, it will be well worth doing some breathing warm ups before you begin your speech
1)Observe your body
One of the best ways to know how you breathe is by looking at yourself in the mirror. Watch for signs which indicate your breathing control is incorrect. Look for signs of: Pulling down when breathing out, bracing of the knees, pulling up of your clavicles, and an unsteady neck. Basic rule of breathing: Do not force your breathing to an area beyond the limit of comfort. You should never feel congested or fixed in a position.
2) Conducting the orchestra
This should be performed once you have a good knowledge of your back and posture. The purpose of this exercise is to lengthen and widen your back while you develop the capacity for breathing and speaking. Imagine you are facing an orchestra and about to conduct. As a conductor does, raise your arms in front, and keep your shoulders down. When you are raising your arms, look around at the orchestra, and allow your head to turn freely as you do.
BREATHE OUT when you are raising your arms.
When you have fully extended your arms, fix your eye at one spot and DROP your arms immediately.
Release your abdominal muscles and BREATHE IN whilst you are dropping your arms back.
Repeat this cycle a few times
3) Blowing out candles
You can do this sitting or standing or even when walking. Keep your length and always keep the neck free.
Imagine you are actually blowing out candles.
Put them in different places and different distances from yourself.
When you expel a puff of air to blow the candle out , make sure you keep your focus on where the candle is.
Do not let your head jump in the direction of the candle, and keep the nice lengthy relationship between your head/neck/back.
For all exercises above, maintain your length, free neck and do not force anything. With adequate practice, you will realize hear your voice changing, and you will be very pleasantly surprised. For further information on how to do these exercises correctly, contact Thila, and she will be more than happy to guide you along!