Why breathing is important for presentations

Five Reasons Breathing Is The Number 1 Tool For Great Communication

When was the last time you thought about your breathing? This morning? Yesterday? How about “Not at all”? Well, if you’re like most people the answer is most likely the latter:  Not at all. If you’re keen to learn some techniques for great communication, here are five tips on breathing correctly to optimise your speaking, performance and leadership.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Breathing correctly is the most important thing for great communication

First off, if you don’t typically focus on breathing, don’t beat yourself up.

After all, it’s a pretty normal thing, because breathing is something our bodies do by themselves. It’s an involuntary function so whether or not we think about it, it happens anyway.

But I’m here to tell you that breathing is the number one tool for great communication, and spending the time to create good breathing habits and awareness will pay off in huge dividends in your meetings, speeches, and presentations.

Breathing is Vital for Great Communication

When it comes to your effectiveness as a speaker and communicator, good deep diaphragmatic breathing is your best friend.

Breathing is the one thing that voice coaches always, always, always bang on about!

We’re always trying to find new ways of telling you how important it is and what the benefits are of good, deep, diaphragmatic breathing.

And we tell you this with good reason.

Just look at the number of people who are taking yoga classes these days—it’s a revolution in mindfulness and deep breathing technique.

So What is Correct Breathing Anyway?

When you breathe from your belly, your lungs are expanding to their full capacity and the diaphragm, that dome shaped muscle at the bottom of your rib cage, moves down to allow the lungs to expand, and your belly moves out as a result.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a fancy term for breathing deeply from your belly, not high in your upper chest where your lungs are the smallest. Children breathe deeply and correctly from the womb, they don’t need to be taught.  It’s completely instinctual.

So if we know how to do it, then why don’t we do it?!

Typically, life happens!

We start dealing with fears and insecurities and this often manifests itself as tension in the body, resulting in shallower breathing.

As a result, we have to re-learn how to breathe naturally.

It is quite simple, but is it easy?

Actually, to do it effectively it takes practice.

Check out this video.

So why bother learning to breathe deeply and more naturally? What are the benefits of breathing correctly when it comes to speaking and presenting?

Actually, there are quite a few. Simple dedication to practising breathing correctly can ensure that you have great communication skills.

Breathing for Great Communication, 1: It’s Premium Fuel

Your voice needs fuel to perform at its best and breath is that fuel.

It supports the sound and helps to protect your voice from harm.

When you breathe deeply from the belly, you’re getting a bigger, higher quality of breath to fuel your vocal sound.

Breathing for Great Communication, 2: Think Clearly

Your brain needs fuel to run at its best too.

Good, deep breathing helps to get oxygen to the brain and supports clear thinking, so when you feel like you’re freezing or panicking because you can’t remember what comes next in your speech or presentation, take a moment to pause and breathe.

It gives you a moment to clear your head and remember the next thought.

Breathing for Great Communication, 3: Obey The Speed Limit

When we take time to pause and breathe, we automatically slow down our delivery.

Everyone, without exception, can afford to slow down. A good delivery pace gives both you and the audience time to breathe and process information.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!

Breathing for Great Communication, 4: Keep It Grounded

Breathing down in your belly, or ‘chi’ centre – as it’s referred to in martial arts – helps to centre your energy and gives you a sense of being grounded and balanced.  When your energy is more grounded and balanced, you are able to be more present in the moment. Being more present in the moment means being more connected to our audience.

Breathing for Great Communication, 5: Fight Or Flight

Getting nervous is largely due to irrational fears and that ancient ‘fight or flight’ part of our brain that kicks in to save us from a situation that our brain perceive as threatening, ie. getting up in front of a bunch of people and speaking.  Conscious, deep breathing, tricks the brain into calming down. It sends the rest of your body the message that everything’s ok and there’s no need to panic.

Our bodies already know how to breathe properly; we’re just reawakening the muscle memory that becomes lost over many years of bad habits.

I could talk about the theories behind good breathing technique and the benefits from practicing it until the cows come home. Learning a few simple techniques and practicing them on a consistent basis is the only way to truly experience the treasure trove of benefits that good, centred breathing can bring to you as a speaker and communicator.

Small Changes Reap Huge Benefits

So, tomorrow when you’re going through your day just take a moment every now and then and check in with yourself;

Am I holding my breath?

Am I breathing?

And take a few deep breaths.

A wise man once told me:

Life is like breathing. If you try and hold it, you’ll lose it. But if you’re aware and let it come and go, you’ll always be connected to it.

When we are breathing we are more present in the moment. The more present we are, the more effective we are as communicators because we are able to connect more fully with our audience.

So start breathing. The results—such as great communication!—might surprise you!

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056


Final Word from Max Strom

Watch this TEDx talk by Max Strom for even more

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Nervous about performing. Beyonce: "I am nervous when I don't get nervous."

Nervous About Performing? Five Reasons Not To Be Concerned

Some of the best presenters and performers admit to being nervous about performing in front of an audience. Everyone from superstar music performer Beyoncé Knowles to Rugby World Cup winning Dan Carter have spoken about why being nervous about performance have spurred them to their greatest performances. If you suffer from nerves, here are five things to set your mind at ease … and stop your pulse from racing!

There is no question. Nerves can be debilitating.

With so much available to readers on how to control nerves, I felt it was important to share my experience of nerves from a different perspective. By understanding a little more about nerves we can start to use them to our advantage.

Nervous about performing. Beyonce: "I am nervous when I don't get nervous."I get nervous when I don’t get nervous. If I’m nervous, I know I’m going to have a good show.
– Beyonce Knowles

I am a big believer that it is normal and healthy to feel nerves before any presentation. Some of the best presenters and performers I have worked with will admit to being nervous in front of an audience.

When clients tell me they “don’t get nervous”, I worry, why? Because in my mind it’s a sure sign that their presentation may not succeed.

Being over-confident can often translate to boring, uninspiring and a disconnected presenter.

1. Being Nervous About Performing Means This Is Important To You

Very often people perceive nerves as a weakness.

But what if we think about this differently?

What if we flip this on its head and think about it completely the opposite way?

I say that feeling nervous is not a weakness, but the best sign that what you are doing is important to you.

Think about the last job interview or presentation you had.

If you were nervous, you also probably had a clear focus, a drive to succeed and a clear intention. That counts for a lot.

2. Nerves Mean You Will Strive To Be The Best You Can Be

Nerves mean the stakes are high!

You don’t want to screw it up.

Being nervous will remove complacency in my experience. If the stakes are high you will prepare with more focus, you will rehearse more, you will put in the graft, you will give your all to the preparation.

What happens then?

You will reap the rewards!

A healthy dose of nerves will keep you on your toes, keep you focused and ultimately lead to a better presentation.

3. Being Nervous About Performing Helps Realise Your True Potential

If you feel nervous, then that means you’re not being safe.

When we try new things, when we make changes, we will always experience nerves – but if we don’t try new things, we will never know what we’re really capable of in life.

Here’s the thing.

People who do the same thing every day, who are afraid to try new things probably do not suffer from nerves.

They never feel nervous because they never actually challenge themselves, and that I believe is a bigger weakness than being nervous. I think that feeling nervous is a sign that we’re actually living life to the fullest.

And that has to be worth something.

4. Nervous About Performing? It’s Not Nerves, It’s Excitement!

Would you believe anxiety and excitement are not that dissimilar on a physiological level?

It’s true!

The heart pounds faster, cortisol surges, and the body prepares for action in both cases. Our brain can very quickly switch between both.

In contrast, the brain has greater difficulty switching to a feeling of calmness and relaxation.

Excitement suggests there is something to look forward to, whereas anxiety suggests it’s something to be feared.

Harvard Business School psychologist Alison Wood Brooks has researched what is known as “anxiety reappraisal.”

If we’re nervous about performing but choose to consciously reframe nerves as excitement instead of anxiety or fear, she says, our performance can be improved.

So if we start putting a positive association with those physical feelings (heart pounding, palms sweating), we will no longer fear our presentation, but will present better as a result.

Instead of attempting to calm down our nerves we should be harnessing them. It takes practice but it’s certainly an interesting challenge to explore.

5. Nerves Are a Sign You’re Prepared For Action

In a 2013 study in the Clinical Psychological Science half of the participants were told prior to having to present that they’d probably feel nervous about performing, but that sweaty palms and racing hearts, sweating were signs that their bodies were prepping for action.

The other half received no information.

The result?

Participants briefed about the benefits of nerves were less distracted by them and performed better.

So if we know to expect feelings of nervousness we can embrace them and harness the energy.

Conclusion: Embrace the Butterflies!

There is nothing wrong with having butterflies in your stomach, provided you make them fly in formation.
– Jon Jones

Nerves certainly mean an element of discomfort – no argument there!

We all know the feeling – the heart is pounding, palms moist, mouth like sandpaper. Our body’s natural response is thrown into overdrive.

What can happen is that we focus on the response – pounding heart, sweating palms – and get distracted from the task at hand.

If we are able to keep ourselves from turning our focus in on ourselves, then nervousness can be a helpful tool. Focusing on your surroundings and your audience during a presentation, rather than on the thoughts inside you, is the key.

With nerves, the adrenaline gives you a boost of energy. Actors use the adrenaline rush to take their performances to a higher level. This can be seen in their physical and vocal delivery – presenters can also harness this.

The day I lose my stage-fright is the day I will stop acting.
– Sir Laurence Olivier

So, all in I think we need to accept that nerves are normal and natural. Yes there is discomfort and there are many ways to control them, but it is useful to challenge ourselves to look at nerves from a different perspective.

Thank you for reading! Please share your thoughts and join the conversation.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a S.T.E.M. Specialist Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We have worked with leading Irish and international companies and executives. Contact us for details on our range of  corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.

☎ +35319696056


wedding speech

Need Wedding Speech Advice In A Hurry

Here’s a quick read from an article I wrote on wedding speech advice in Confetti Magazine recently


click here for the Article written for Confetti Magazine 

If you haven’t time to read the article then here is some wedding speech advice:

  1. Think about what you want to say as opposed to what you are expected to say
  2. Get it out of your head and down onto paper
  3. Ask for help (if not a friend or family member, then ME!!! only joking)
  4. Rehearse  aloud
  5. Learn correct breathing techniques to control your nerves

if you liked this wedding speech advice you’ll find these very useful also:


ConfidentSpeak is a Communications, Voice & Executive Coaching consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We  work with leading Irish and international companies and executives globally providing solutions to their communication and engagement challenges. Contact us for details on our range of  tailored programmes, masterclasses and seminars  for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.”