Could Yoga Help You To Become A Better Public Speaker?

It turns out that yoga and speaking share a lot in common
It turns out that yoga and speaking share a lot in common
Image Credit: Dave Rosenblum

I can only speak for myself, but because of the importance of public speaking I’m always looking for ways to become a better public speaker. I’ve taken classes, read books, and talked with experts. However, one thing that I had never thought to look into was how an exercise program could impact how I talked. A while back I had been talked into trying out a yoga program that was being held at a local university. I went to the program with low expectations. However, when I gave a speech the next day it went very well. Hmm, could there be a link between yoga and speaking well?


It’s All About How You Breath

So it turns out that the people who practice yoga have got this breathing thing down to a science. When you are performing yoga exercises, you are taught that you need to focus on your breathing. What you want to do is to have smooth, deep, and controlled taking in of air and letting out of air in order to match each movement of your body. When we are giving a speech, we also need to take the time to pay attention to our breathing. .If we can do this, then we can manage the nervousness that comes along with giving a speech.

When we are preparing to give a speech, we tend to become anxious. As this happens, our breathing gets both fast and shallow. The result of this is that we start to speak at a fast rate and we start to speak with a breathy quality. Just to make things even worse, when we start to breath this way we can bring on hyperventilation and perhaps even generate an out-of-body experience while we are giving our speech. Take the time to think about your breathing and force it to become deeper and longer. If you can do this, then your heart rate will decrease and you’ll speak with a richer, louder, and slower voice.


Do You Have Presence?

So this may seem a bit silly to you, I mean you have to show up to give a speech and so this presence thing is already taken care of, right? Well, it turns out that the answer is no. When we talk about presence what we are really talking about is the mental state of being present in the moment. This means that you have to stop dwelling on what happened earlier in the day or what you are planning on doing once your speech is done.

As speakers, our job is to find ways to connect with our audience. No matter how many screw-ups, mistakes, or glitches we encounter when delivering a speech, we need to keep our focus on staying in the moment for our audience. In order to be able to do this, we need to make sure that we both understand our audience and the context in which we’ll be speaking. We have to really care about the topic that we are going to be talking about. We need to take the time to prepare to give our speech and while we are giving it, we need to make sure to connect with our audience by looking directly at them.


Use Your Posture To Tell Your Speech

As anyone who has watched people perform yoga knows, posture plays a big role in what yoga is. People who are performing yoga pay attention to where their feet are, aligning their hips, and creating space between the different bones in their body. The goal for people who are performing yoga is to reach a point where even though they may have performed a given pose many times in the past, they suddenly achieve proper alignment in a pose that deepens their experience.

As speakers, keeping our focus on maintaining proper alignment and making all of our movements purposeful is the key to creating a powerful stage presence. What we need to do is when we are on a stage is to stand tall, have our shoulder blades pressed together, and keep our hands down at our sides. Once we’ve been able to achieve this, we can then incorporate body language into our speech in order to make it even more powerful.


What All Of This Means For You

If you have ever seen people practicing yoga, you understand what it is – a series of stretching exercises. Performing yoga can be a very demanding undertaking. The poses that are struck require a great deal of flexibility and commitment from the person who is doing the yoga. Where things get interesting is that it turns out that there is a lot of similarity between performing yoga exercises and delivering a speech in order to share the benefits of public speaking .

When you are doing yoga, you are taught to become very aware of your breathing. What you are going to want to do is to take deep breaths and control the inflow and exit of air from your body. As speakers, we want to do the same thing. If we can control our breathing, then we can reduce our anxiety and speak in a more normal tone of voice. Yoga also teaches you to remain in the moment. This means you are not to be thinking about the challenges that you’ve had today or the things you want to do later on. When we are giving a speech, we want to do the same thing. If we can stay in the moment, then we can connect with our audience. Yoga requires you to be aware of your body. You want to feel where every part is and cause all of the different parts to work in alignment. When we are speaking and we are on a stage, we want to have a commanding stage presence that allows us to use our body to tell our story.

All of us share the desire to become better public speakers. In order to make this happen, we need to find ways to improve how we give speeches. If we take the time to study what skills are needed to engage in a yoga workout, then we can discover techniques that we can apply to giving speeches. Using yoga skills to improve how we give speeches can lead to better speeches, more connections with our audience, and more complete sense of satisfaction when we have completed giving a speech. Take some time and practice some yoga – you just might discover that you become better at giving speeches!


– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™


Question For You: Do you think that you should ever stretch while you are giving a speech?


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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So let’s all agree on something: not all speeches that we give are the same. Some speeches we give are just being delivered because we promised somebody that we’d get up there and give a speech. However, then there are the other speeches. These are the ones that are very important. It may be our big idea that we’re trying to get support for, perhaps it’s something that we need people to vote on, or it’s important information that we need to somehow communicate to our audience. No matter what the reason, we believe that we are trying to deliver very important information that reflects the importance of public speaking. When we find ourselves in this situation, we need to take steps to make sure that we’re ready to deliver a very good speech.

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