• 5 Essential Presentation Pointers, Part 3: How to Breathe when You’re Public Speaking

    So far in this series we’ve covered how to kick off your speech with a great intro and how to keep it flowing smoothly with an outline.

    But while you’re presenting this outline, there are couple things you should do to keep yourself calm and collected. It all has to do with breathing and, done right, it’ll keep the sweat off your brow!

    Breathe, baby, breathe!

    Musicians, writers and artists use something in their arts to add interest and give “breathing room.” They call it white space, and it is something that empowers their message by adding dynamics, or changes in volume and focal interest

    For example, have you ever seen a page of full text with no paragraphs or line breaks? Just one big page of words words words? It looked daunting and lacked any visual interest, right? Well, the exact same text, broken up into smaller bits, will actually increase the reader’s acceptance of that page even though nothing about the text itself has changed.

    Similarly with music, sometimes right before a solo or chorus the song will get softer or even stop altogether for just a moment. This is white space as well, and it makes the solo or chorus BOOM into existence and it becomes that much more powerful.

    Well, good public speakers also use white space. Why? Well, have you ever had someone talk and talk and talk and talk at you? They just kept on going and going and didn’t even seem to notice that you hadn’t spoken a single word?

    It’s bad manners, first off. And secondly, it makes the snubbed person feel mighty unimportant.

    Good speakers have a trick that kills two birds with one stone: they’ll ask a question of the audience. This has numerous benefits.

    One, it makes your audience feel like it exists, which you should never forget that it does!
    Two, it gives the speaker a chance to chill out, take a breather, settle in a bit. The room will get quiet and that new silence will actually wake anyone up who’s fallen asleep.

    So breathe! And while you’re breathing give your audience something to think about. They’ll love you for it and they’ll leave your presentation saying, “Wow, that guy seemed really polished.”

    Controlling the pace of your speech will put you in control. It also keeps you from committing Cardinal Public Speaking Sin Number 1. You know what that is?

    You will when you read the next installment. Part 4 is coming up next.

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