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Breathlessness and Stress Go Hand in Hand

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach


H
ave you ever noticed that when you experience breathlessness at the lectern, you are also feeling stressed? Or, that when you are feeling great stress and nervousness in presenting, you are aware of a shortness of breath? Unfortunately, the two go hand-in-hand and will not end until you learn how to take control of your nervousness and put it to good use.


With all the talk of eliminating your fear, stopping your nervousness, or ending those nervous jitters, I would like to suggest something different. Why not allow your nervousness to work in your favor? Nervousness is excellent: that rush of adrenaline is what can take your speech or your presentation to a level you never knew you could achieve. The secret is learning how to control it so that it can work for you and not against you.

Breathlessness occurs because you fail to breathe. In trying to catch up on your air supply, however, you are possibly increasing your speed which means that your life, your animation, your emotion in presenting is fading just as quickly. It is hard to be colorful in speaking when you are going 100 mph! Sadly, all of these problems are a symptom of nervousness. You want to be dynamic in your delivery; but, your nervousness is in control of you.

Breathlessness occurs because you fail to breathe.
Unfortunately, the result of this constant cat and mouse game is increased stress. So, by not breathing, you are increasing your stress. Your stress, therefore, increases your nervousness as well as your lack of air. It is indeed a Catch 22!

The answer is so simple and yet most people are totally unaware of it. Without air, you have no voice. While public speaking deals with several of your senses, the most important of those senses is sound. Without a voice, there is no reason to stand at the lectern.

For those who experience panic attacks, the 1st thing they
So, by not breathing, you are increasing your stress. Your stress, therefore, increases your nervousness as well as your lack of air.
are taught to do is to take a breath with the support of the diaphragm, something the majority of the population is not doing. We are renowned for being lazy or shallow breathers. If that is the style of breathing you employ at the lectern, it is a guarantee for increased nervousness and breathlessness because this type of breathing actually increases your stress. Diaphragmatic breathing, on the other hand, decreases your stress because it allows for the elimination of the toxins in the body. This is why yoga and meditation are so prevalent today. They are relaxing for the body, the mind, and the spirit.

My advice is to learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm and make it a habit. While you will also discover a host of other benefits in your personal and professional life that have nothing to do with presentation skills, the value of this deep, supported breathing in speaking will allow you to take control of your delivery and present without experiencing breathlessness. Yes, you will be nervous (hopefully), but you will be in control of it.
Diaphragmatic breathing, on the other hand, decreases your stress because it allows for the elimination of the toxins in the body.

Discover the power of your diaphragm and allow your nervousness to work for you and not against you.






International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice training, future workshops, and Voicing It!, visit her Voice Dynamic website. http://www.voicedynamic.com






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