Alleviate Anxiety Tip #3: Breathe

Posted By on February 28, 2014

This is the third post in a three-part series focused on helping you alleviate anxiety before giving a presentation.

When clients tell me they feel anxious prior to their remarks, or, as they jump into the opening of remarks, or, the need to rush  “to get all the material” covered, I ask them about their breathing.  The answer almost always is that they are really not aware of their breathing. Once they focus on it, they realize they are breathing fast, a natural reaction to adrenaline released by the body when you are feeling anxious or fearful, or they are holding their breath.

It is interesting that the act of breathing is so taken for granted when you consider it is essential to life. It is so automatic, we forget to pay attention to it!

Before you begin to speak in front of a group, take a moment to notice your breathing. Is it fast? Take three slow breaths. When you consciously slow your breathing, you will become more relaxed and present. You will come across in your presentation and more authentic. It will calm your anxiety and lower your stress.

If, like I tend to do, you are holding your breath or are breathing very shallow breaths, take three slow, deep breaths.

Practicing breath control is good exercise leading up to a speech or presentation. Try this exercise in the days leading up to your big day:

  • Lie on the floor or on your bed at night and place your hand on your abdomen.
  • Feel the natural rise and fall of your belly.
  • Now, allow your belly to fill even further before you release and exhale.
  • Experience the plenty of oxygen that fills your diaphragm.

This fullness is the way I want you to feel when you stand and deliver your presentation.

Repeat this exercise every hour starting several days before your presentation. Yes, every hour, take three of deep breaths! That will really bring it to your consciousness. Do only three to four deep breaths at one setting because doing more than that may make you a bit dizzy.  Set the alarm on your phone to remind you to do the exercise each hour. It will bring oxidation to your brain, allowing you to think more clearly; and it will relax you.

Practice will help you sharpen this tool for so it will be ready when you need it to combat performance anxiety.

So when you feel rushed, pressured or a sense of real stress, notice how you are breathing.

What do you do to control your public speaking anxiety? Share your tips by posting a comment. Speaking for impact is not an accident. It’s a skill.


Leave a Reply