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Secrets To Calm Public Speaking

Apr 8, 2008
One of the questions I most ask people who come to me for personal coaching to increase their public speaking skills is this. "Did you warm up before speaking". And most of them just stare at me as if I am completely mad and don't have a clue what I am talking about. I then explain that even professional singers and professional actors and athletes all warm up before going on stage or performing in some way.

Why should it be any different for public speaking?

The one fundamental difference between people who are capable of decent public speaking and people who are not is the difference in the state of mind. Good speakers have mastered their nerves (well mostly) and appear polished on stage. I will repeat. The only difference is the state of their mind.

It is therefore of enormous importance to warm up in order to become calm and this be in the optimum state for speaking. One of the best ways to warm up and change your state is slow deep breathing.

The preferred way is known as 7/11 breathing because you breathe in slowly to the count of seven and then breathe out slowly to a longer count of eleven. The main reason you breathe out longer is because the parasympathetic nervous system receives a signal that all is becoming calmer when your breathing slows but this only occurs on the exhalation rather than the inhalation so you need to give this system every chance you can to pick up this signal correctly.

The next thing to do is to make sure that you breathe all the way out so that you hardly have any residual air left in your lungs because it is carbon dioxide build up in the body sends you into fight or flight and signals for adrenaline to start flowing and we all know how that feels, not very nice.

Remember that this technique is also breathing from the diaphragm or belly area rather than just expanding the chest. If you are not sure you are doing it right simply place a hand on your diaphragm and you should feel it rising and falling as you breathe in and out slowly.

Belly breathing fills the lower lobes of the lungs correctly which in turn fill all the little alveoli that transport oxygen around the body. Once your body is well oxygenated the stress response will correct itself because the amount of carbon dioxide to oxygen will be rebalanced.

The last thing to mention which is probably the most important is to do the breathing for a minimum of ten minutes with fifteen minutes being better. i know many people who say to me that they tried this and it didn't work. so I asked then how long they had done it for and they replied that they had done it for a few minutes only.

If you feel quite stressed it will take at least fifteen minutes to correct the imbalance caused by too much carbon dioxide in the blood so the trick is to take a look at the place you will be speaking in beforehand and find a quiet place there on early arrival and start your breathing.

Please believe me, this will work if you do it for fifteen minutes or more. Athletes don't take two minutes to warm up.they spend at least fifteen to twenty minutes and singers often take longer. Pavarotti, the famous opera singer, once stated that he would never sing without warming up his voice first of all.

So 7/11 breathing for at least fifteen minutes is the trick to changing your mental state before public speaking.
About the Author
Lee James Heather is a therapist and personal coach who inspires people through his free personal development website - http://www.growthjunction.com Its subjects range from change techniques to consciousness research and work/career makeovers
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