November 6, 2015

Speaking Confidently on the Phone and in Presentations

Talking is only one element of speaking well. To speak with more confidence, our breath must be under control. Most elements of speech such as speed, tone, pacing and feeling (convincing power) can be controlled through proper, deep breathing. 

Most of us tend to breathe shallowly. Take a moment to check this in yourself. Place one hand on your abdomen and another on your upper chest. Do you feel your abdomen rising and falling? If so, you are breathing deeply and properly. If this breath is paired with our speech, a clearer, resonant and confident voice emerges. Most of us, however, breathe and speak from our upper chest and lungs. This produces a shallow and quieter voice, leading to other problems for some like mumbling, which happens when the words are not articulated clearly, become joined incorrectly and the correct pacing is lost. This leaves the listener asking you to repeat and feeling confused in your message. This does not result in confidence for you as a speaker, or them as a conversational partner. Take charge of your voice and improve your communication (and your life) through the below exercises. 

The videos below will take you through a process to improve your voice through breathing exercises, tips on testing your new skills, and a video of a before and after client success story. 

How can I get an even deep breath? 
When we breathe deeply, our body remains steady. Our shoulders will not move up and down, instead, our abdomen will expand, and our breath will pass over the vocal cords with a steady force, bringing a more natural speed and pace to our delivery. Pair these breathing skills with a good, straight posture (do not bend over tables or bend your neck down), will improve the clarity of your voice over the phone, leading to more productive client conversations.

Begin the video at the 2 minute 20 second mark.

What are the steps of this breathing process in more detail?
Start watching this video from minute mark 1 minute 50 seconds to see a more detailed step-by-step description of this breathing technique.

How can I test this out? How do I know if I am doing it right?
In addition to assuring you are not moving your shoulders up and down, standing sideways and looking in a mirror can help you to see if your diaphragm is expanding and collapsing as you breathe. The video below demonstrates this test.

How can I practice my breath and pace my delivery confidently? 
Breathing properly will help this tremendously. In addition to that, take a look at the below video for more ideas and exercises.

Are there any before and after success stories? 
Finding these videos was tricky. However, I was able to find one of a speaker who started out with a weak, nervous and shallow voice. She could be described as a mumbler. After learning and applying some of the above tips and a few others by the coach in this video, her voice changed dramatically, for the better.

Would you like to improve your voice to speak more confidently in business English with your US colleagues? Contact Jennifer today, an American citizen and US cultural expert living in India. She has trained over 2,000 Indians to bridge the cultural gap with Americans in the office. She can help you, too! 

Related Posts: 
Do I speak too slow or too fast? 
Syllable stress is important to speaking clearly in English 
Avoid halting or pausing in the wrong places 
What is stuttering and mumbling? 

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