Facilitating a Presentation Skills workshop on Monday I was reminded of the importance of breathing while delivering a presentation. I know, it sounds obvious, but many forget. They don’t forget to breathe altogether, obviously, but they forget to breathe properly.

Often when people get nervous their breath becomes shallow, which results in less oxygenated blood reaching the brain and our thought processes can then fail. Do you know that feeling of: I just can’t think straight. What was I meant to say next? I can’t remember my train of thought! This only leads to more nervousness and a flailing presentation. No-one wants that.

So how do you breathe properly?

  1. Draw air deep into your lungs so that your chest and then your stomach get bigger and protrude
  2. Keep your shoulders still (many of us breathe with our shoulders which is pretty ineffectual and results in the shallow breathing we want to avoid)
  3. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Importantly, do this just before you’re about to present, even if you’re sitting in a chair waiting to be introduced. Focus on deep, slow breaths. This will ensure your body and brain is energised with oxygen and ready to perform. If you start your presentation with deep breathing, it’s likely you’ll be more relaxed, remember what you need to say and get off to a great start.

So, if there’s only one thing you remember to do just before you’re about to give your next presentation, it’s this: Breathe!

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