If you’re doing a voice and speech lesson with me, especially in your first month of training, I typically take a break, at intervals during the hour, to have you read something aloud, not because it’s important to the training process—it’s not—but it gives you a break from the boring exercises and invites you to apply what you’ve just learned.

But here’s what’s almost guaranteed to happen. You’re going to focus on the text rather than your technique. You’ll start anticipating the next words and grabbing quick, small, shallow breaths between phrases, or even trying to speak the next phrase without taking a breath first.

It’s sad, but not surprising. If you’re like most people, speaking is all about words, and that’s something you do with your brain and your mouth. Your breath… your breath is just a pesky little interruption to be handled as fast as possible so you can get on to the next words.

That’s a fatal mistake, because speaking is essentially a breath-powered process. Your in-breath sets up the next phrase. It literally determines what’s going to follow. So if the breath you take in is small, quick, and shallow, the speech that follows will be small, quick and shallow.

Failing to honor your in-breath leads to rushing because breath is what naturally paces your delivery. Once you’re going too fast, you start to feel out of control and your anxiety increases. Feeling rushed and anxious makes you distracted and self-conscious and then you get up in your head and lose your connection with your listeners.

Speaking involves more than just words. You need to pay attention to your whole body when you speak, especially your in-breath. Take more time to inhale and be present to that moment. Feel the sensation of breath flowing into your body. Enjoy that sensation, how it relaxes you, grounds you and opens you up so you can give yourself more fully.

Learn to take leisurely in-breaths, especially when you’re practicing. Don’t be in such a rush to start the next phrase. Take all the time you need to make sure your breath is relaxed, open and going all the way down to your center. The delivery will take care of itself, and you’ll be strong, calm, deliberate and super present to your listeners.

Thanks for watching. Leave a comment and tell us what you discover when you linger on your in-breath. Also, check out my previous video called Slowing Your In-Breath. The link is in the description. It’s the same concept, from a slightly different angle, and I describe how to practice this skill, taking one second to breathe at the commas and two seconds to breathe at the periods.

I’ll see you in the next video.

Take More Time to Inhale

Everyone knows breathing is important to speaking, but most people pay no real attention to their breath when they’re actually speaking. They’re entirely focused on the words they’re saying: meanwhile, their breaths become small, quick, tense and shallow. As a result, they become rushed, anxious and self-conscious. Taking more time to inhale will help you be more relaxed, calm, deliberate and present to your listeners.