High-Stakes Communication – Breathing for Energetic Relaxation
When you take the stage, get behind the podium, or stand in front of your audience, nervousness may set in within seconds. Being aware of your body, and more importantly, your breathing can ensure that you can control your nerves and project confidence when you talk. Master communicators practice calming and breathing techniques, even when not in front of an audience, to train their bodies to deal well with high stress performance situations. Preparing your body and visualizing success are important strategies that can serve to help you conquer any fears, doubts, or nervousness you have around presenting or talking to others.
Our expert business communication consultants have compiled a brief breathing guide below to help you on your communication journey.
Step 1: Find time to sit down and envision. To make this step effective, you must make the conscious decision to let go of any worries or doubts on your mind. Take this time to talk yourself into it and tell yourself that this is the most important thing you can possibly do for the next few minutes. Close your eyes and picture yourself in the moment before, during, and after your talk or presentation. How does it feel? If you feel your body begin to tense up, take note. Be aware of how your body feels when relaxed and when stressed. Knowing the difference will help you identify nervousness early, and help you to overcome it with breathing and calming techniques.
Step 2: Locate the tension and release. Once you have committed yourself to relaxing and breathing, now, focus on those tension points in your body. Go through some simple movements to relieve tension in your body such as stretching, moving your arms over your head, or bending slowly at the waist – relieving the tension that may be on your spine. As you progress through the movements, continue to scan your body to pick up points of new or lingering tension. When you detect tension or discomfort, see if you can think it away. Tell your body to go limp around the point of tension and to release it from your body. Continue this exercise until your body is as calm and relaxed as possible.
Step 3: Calm your body and exhale deeply. Now, push your seat back into the chair so that you are sitting up straighter than usual. See how comfortable you can become by letting the chair support your weight. Imagine that you are going limp like a rag doll, but be sure to keep your head level. Let yourself go and sink as deeply into the chair as you can. Then, exhale deeply and see how you can let your breath out in its entirety. As you blow out the air, try to let out just a little more air. This exercise will lessen your tension tremendously. Remember, you are not trying to force or control your breath, you’re simply just letting go and releasing. With each exhalation, you should be able to feel your rib cage dropping. Exhaling in this way should feel like a deep sigh. Find time throughout the day to do this several times.
These communication preparation strategies can be practiced twice a day to make breathing effortless even during speaking engagements. As you become more comfortable with breathing to relax your body, you will find that you will be able to apply it in any moment of stress. Try doing these exercises in the car on the way to your talk, and, again, when you’re being introduced. Remember that when you stand up to speak, take a moment to breathe, center, and settle in.
At Speakeasy, we teach these and similar proven speaking strategies in our What You Say and How You Say It business communication skills programs. When you’re ready to take the next step in your communication journey, our dynamic faculty will be here for you. Contact us today to learn more about our upcoming program schedule and which program may be the best for you.