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How Valuable is Your Breath to Your Speech Performance?

If you were an actor you would receive voice training using the diaphragmatic breathing process. The reason for this is that an actor needs to manage his breath on stage so the sound and emotions of his voice are effectively shared with the audience.  As a speaker or a presenter your breathing process creates your speech sound; but it can do more to enhance the quality of your presentation.

The first valuable key to managing your breath is that it will help you to relax before and during a speech.  Taking a few deep breaths in slowly will actually alter your brain to create a calmness to overcome you. This gives you time to re-focus yourself and gain control over any speech anxiety. With a relaxed body your vocal folds (chords) relax to produce a better tone.

To avoid running out of breath at the end of your sentences, the second key is to strengthen your breathing capacity.  Through exercises, such as taking in air, hold it briefly, and letting it out gradually as you speak will allow you to have some reserve air to use at the end of long sentences or a change in vocal expression. This takes practice but it’s worth the effort.  You will be able to project your voice farther away to reach audience listeners at the back of the room without putting strain on your voice or becoming hoarse or sore.

Your breathing is the core connection to everything you say so the third key is to be sure your breathing style is working for your voice not against it.  If you think energy, your breath will support the energy in your voice so you can sound enthusiastic and motivate your listener to your message.  With a variety of energy levels you can create vocal modulation of your pitch, rhythm, and overall tone in the delivery of your speech.  Having enough air for the  rising and falling inflection of sound will link to the passion of telling your story to your listeners.

The mere fact that your breath is always with you as a resource and a management tool, it gives you a choice of keeping your voice in top form. From vocal relaxation, vocal capacity and projection, to a breath energy that can keep going, it is vital to respect your breathing potential. 

How do you maximize your breath with your speech?

Did you enjoy this article?  Brenda C. Smith is a Speech and Presentation Coach, and an author. Her latest book:  “BREATHE…Just Steps to Breathtaking Speeches” gives the reader specific exercises that they can implement right away to help their voice power. All of the 7 Steps to Breathtaking Speeches contain easy exercises to follow for anyone who likes to learn on their own.

Vocal Impact Tip# 1: Nasal Tone

Vocal Impact & Presentation Tips 
1.   Nasal Tone:  
FAQ:How can I get rid of my nasal or whiny sound?
If your tone is nasal it is caused by the sound being resonated in the nasal cavity and exiting through the nose instead of the mouth. It’s okay for the sounds of ‘m’, ‘n’, and ‘ng’ which are nasal and will exit through your nasal passage. However, all the other sounds do not. What happens at the back of your mouth is that the soft velum has dropped down to close off the opening to your mouth and opens a wider passage through your nose; therefore, your sounds that should be leaving the mouth cavity are escaping through the  nasal passage and that is giving them a “twang” tone.
Did You Know?
You can exercise this velum or soft palate to strengthen it to rise in order to close off the passage to your nose and open the voice passage through your mouth? So, you can physically exercise the soft velum to strengthen it. 
Here’s one of the exercises that I do as a solution for my clients who have an excessive nasal tone. Repeat the sound “ung” so the velum rises at the back of the mouth; then follow immediately with the sound of “aw” to lower the velum for the sound to leave a wide mouth opening. Repeat "ung-aw" a few times daily – I call this my “opening and closing the garage door” exercise.
If you ever need help let us serve your speech and voice needs right away at Voice Power Training Services

Take Good Care of Your Voice!  Speech Coach Brenda

Rehearse as if You Are Live Onstage

 Are you ignoring the rehearsal part of preparing for your speech or rehearsal? So many presenters decide to just “wing-it” when they need to present in front of a group of people. Even seasoned speakers need to be prompted to rehearse.  Yet, when I’ve had clients who tell me after an event that went extremely well for them; they all say it was mainly because they did just that – rehearse, rehearse, and rehearsed again!
Rehearsal does not necessarily mean that you must memorize every single word and then rehearse it non-stop. First, memorization can have a negative effect on your presentation because it will sound phony and not genuinely spoken from your heart or inspiration. If you suddenly forget a section, you will be thrown off and not know how to improvise to recover.

However, I do suggest that you should rehearse most often your opening five minutes and your closing section so that you can begin and end with confidence and a powerful sound.  When you do that, it becomes part of your memory like an osmosis process. The rest of your presentation should be rehearsed in chunks of valuable points with supporting examples. Once you have the first point rehearsed, then move onto the next ones until you know each one separately as an entity unto itself.

Finally, rehearse the entire performance out loud standing and moving as if you are presenting live right at that moment.  You will have to rehearse your opening and your first chunk; then your opening and first and second chunks; next, the opening with your first, second, and third chunks; and finally, do it again with your opening with all your chunks, plus your closing.  I think you get the picture – rehearsal never ends until you absolutely know your content. 

The key is that rehearsing in your head is never a good substitute to rehearsing everything out loud. You will be amazed at how great your next speech is and how more confident you become as your progress.  The bonus is that if you get interrupted, cut short, or asked unexpected questions, you are so prepared to sound like the expert the listener expects you to be.

Are you really going to chance “winging it” when you can actually have fun improvising throughout a well-prepared and rehearsed presentation anyway.  That’s how you make authentic connection with your audience.

Need help rehearsing? Check out our personal coaching packages and online seminars that includes coaching http://www.VoicePowerTraining.com

How to Tell Stories for Business Presenters

Storytelling for your business marketing speech is all about creating believability. 
It may be time for your to draw on some acting techniques. Actors are trained to tap into emotions and truth so their characters or stories are believable. When the audience recognizes the hope, fear, joy, sadness, excitement, or any other emotion; they are moved emotionally themselves. They can make the connection and understand. So, how do you do this without coming across as “fake acting?” 

One ingredient that actors learn to do is to paint the picture of the character or the situation for the audience, so they can see and feel the moment.  Actors spend time re-visiting their own sensory awareness, (touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight) in their training to help them focus on creating each story to be very real to the actor.  Often the actor remembers a time when a similar experience may have happened to him. 

In telling your stories during presentation, try to concentrate on creating any of the sensory images for your listener, to let them see and feel your story. Put yourself into the story situation at the moment you are delivering it to your audience. In this way, the audience will connect with the story, whether it is humorous or serious.  Leave them laughing, crying, or motivating them into action.

Actors are able to get right into their characters or story. Lawyers who take extra coaching in acting skills learn this technique in order to make their case for a client resonate with the judge or jury, so that they can understand what the person was thinking at the time.

You want your business presentation to have that extra dimension to a story that will touch the listener emotionally. That’s what makes if believable and your listener will be motivated by your dramatically moving story to take action – a marketer’s dream!

Stress Relievers for Speakers

How can I relax when I'm so nervous about speaking in front of a group? This is a question that I'm always asked. The solution begins with your realization that you must be relaxed physically and mentally so that you are in control of de-stressing yourself.  

Muscle relaxation of the throat and neck frees the voice from tension and produces a fully resonant vocal tone. Whole body muscle relaxation will also support your physical alignment with your vocal sound. Replacing your nerve-wracking thoughts to positive ones will reinforce your energy and competency quality in front of an audience. 

Now that you know you must start with relaxation techniques, here are a few exercises that you can implement today so that it becomes automatic, and you don't have to worry about it anymore. 

  1. Stand and do long stretches in all directions using your arms and legs; up, down, behind, low, mid, and high.
  2. Shake your whole body just like you are a swimmer coming out of the water and need to shake the water off your body. Be loose and free.
  3. Take a HUGE Yawn and feel that air hit the back of your throat.
  4. Take 3 slow deep breaths using your diaphragm (barrel under ribs and chest area); but definitely not your upper shoulder or upper chest area. Your shoulders should not rise; but your stomach should expand. Practise this until it becomes natural to you. Exhale on a big sigh.
  5. Mentally check that there are no lingering tense muscles in your body; if so, shake it out.
  6. Think of a relaxing place on the beach to transform your body, mind, and spirit into a calming power force. 
  7. Mentally clear your head of clutter and fill it with energy and thoughts of "I've got this!" 
  8. Practise your opening lines as an expert looking directly at your audience members as if you are there to help your listener with advice. 
  9. Smile and enjoy the moment as a confident speaking guru of the ages.
  10. Repeat the above steps regularly and absorb it all.

Take control to rid your stress level by following the above steps until you can pass it forward to help someone else who may be stressed like you used to be.

Way to go!

Brenda Smith is a personal speech coach who brings her expertise and experience as a lifelong drama director and teacher to guide your transformation into a presenter with vocal power and presence. http://www.VoicePowerTraining.com