While fear of public speaking is the first major hurdle for many who must address an audience, breathlessness is most definitely the second. It is surprising how many people are affected by this easily remedied problem.
When you are talking to your friends, your family, your colleagues or even the clerk in the convenience store, do you experience breathlessness? The chances are that your answer is No, although it is quite possible that you find yourself breathless if you try to speak after running for example. Maybe you notice a shortness of breath you are relaying a harrowing or frightening experience at a very fast pace. In the majority of situations, however, most people do not experience lack of air while in normal conversation.
How can you solve this problem when addressing an audience?
1. Do not wait until you are totally spent to take your next breath. If you wait until you are in dire need of oxygen, you are then likely to take a huge breath filling only the upper portion of your chest. This type of breathing exacerbates your stress. Your goal should be to achieve a comfort level in speaking which is not possible when gasping for huge amounts of air. Learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm and you will be amazed at the results.
2. Supplement your air supply. In stead of waiting until you come to a comma, a period or some other form of punctuation, interrupt your sentence to breathe. You do this in normal conversation without giving it a second thought. In doing so, you will then have your ‘balloon’ of air at a somewhat filled capacity versus constantly dealing with a deflated balloon.
3. Treat your audience as if you were having a conversation. Stop looking at your audience as the enemy and try focusing on them just as if you were talking to your friends or family members. Bear in mind that avoiding your audience by staring at something on the wall or looking above their heads only adds to your discomfort. This, in turn, adds to your breathless state.
There is no reason for breathlessness if you can accomplish these 3 steps. Forget your 2nd grade teacher’s adage that you are not allowed to breathe until you come to some form of punctuation. (You were taught that principle in order to read out loud without being choppy.) Understand that you have a speaker’s license which means that you are free to breathe whenever.
Learn to take the breath before you run out of air, not after the fact.