How often should you breathe?

You go right ahead and breathe all you like. You don’t need anyone’s permission. But a singer turned public speaking coach says:

How often should you breathe? At the very least, at the end of every sentence! If you are prone to rushing through your speech or presentation, then practice breathing at every punctuation mark — it will force you to slow down.

As a former opera singer, I know how much breathing affects how a voice sounds. Singers must use deep breathing in order to project a strong voice across a crowded auditorium to reach every single person in the audience. I never thought that this skill would help me once I left the field of opera — until I had to give my first speech. Then, I realized how much my operatic training made me a powerful public speaker.

Now, having taught public speaking and presentation skills for over a decade, I can say with confidence that the ability to harness your breath is one of the most important and least taught areas within public speaking. It’s critical when you’re speaking up in a meeting and it’s crucial when you’re giving a speech or presentation. It’s one of the key elements of executive presence.

Breathing Is the Key to Persuasive Public Speaking – Allison Shapira, Harvard Business Review (30 June 2015)

One of my problems is racing on to the next sentence and the next. It sometimes comes across as enthusiasm and that does get transmitted, but more often it’s just hard to hear what I said. Read the full piece.

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