The English Square

Breathing for Speeches

Aug 30 / Rebecca Hope
The means of transportation for words is your breath. Breathing from the chest will minimize your ability to carry utterances well. You’ll see it in the visuals of your speech's audio recording. You’ll squeeze a lot of information into a short span and then take a breath from the chest and continue to run on. This is exhausting for you and your audience. They will subconsciously pick up on the lack of vocal control. 
 
I was fortunate to be a member of the world’s number one choir and competed globally. It was a choir of over 100 voices which is unheard of at a high level of competition. That’s a lot of voices to keep in order. Just one voice can ruin the entire sound. We had excellent vocal training where we were taught how to breathe and carry a note to its full potential.  

At the end of a speech, an audience is going to feel something. When they think of your speech, an emotion will be attached to it. Speech is a performance. A performing art. Learning breathing techniques allows your true intentions and desired emotion to be embodied. It strengthens your message and preserves everyone’s energy which should be channeled into the conceptual space of your speech. 

A good place to start learning to control your breath is to do deep breathing exercises. Breathe in deeply through your nose (not your mouth), allow your stomach to expand (not your chest), and slowly breathe out. Do that a few times and then instead of exhaling, hum a note on your breath out. Humming is a brilliant way to warm up the vocal cords without pressure. Do this for a few minutes every day (especially on the day of your speech) and start to compare your audio recordings to previous speeches. 

Your breath is an instrument. It controls the physical delivery of your ideas. If a pianist stops practicing for a few months, they will lose technique. In the same way, being diligent about doing breathing exercises will enhance your message and the emotion you intend for your audience to experience.

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