Your Voice. Your Breath.
Jen Lang, Voice and Communications Coach
Do you ever think about breath? About your breathing? I bet you are right now, just because you’re reading these words.
Go on, breathe in, breathe out. Now let your breath BE.
Blow all the air out of your lungs. Now try to say a word. Sounds forced, doesn’t it. Did you even make a sound?
Your voice and vocal folds rely on breath passing over them to cause them to vibrate, making the air vibrate with the sound.
Without air, without your breath, your voice doesn’t sound.
Which means you can’t be heard unless you breathe.
How often do you use your voice and not even think about it?
If you have already done some public speaking, you will know that your voice can get tired after just a short stint of speaking. Using your breath effectively will eliminate vocal fatigue.
Here’s a simple breath exercise you can do to manage your breath before you begin speaking.
- Place your hand on your belly, just underneath your sternum or breastbone.
- Breathe into the place where your hand is as if you are sipping air through a straw to a count of 5: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5.
- Sustain the space there for a slow 5-count. Don’t inhale or exhale. Check in with your shoulders and neck – see if they are relaxed.
- Exhale through your teeth on an ‘ssssssssssss’ sound, over a slow count of: 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.
- Release all and breathe normally.
- Repeat 5 times.
Note: If you feel light-headed the first time you do this, it means you’re doing it right! The feeling will pass in time.
What this simple exercise does is gives you more control over your breath and breathing.
When we get nervous, our breathing can become shallow – this simple little exercise will help bring your breath back to YOU.
How does this help your voice? When you are in command of your breath, you have command of your voice.