Speaking without high breath and hyperventilation

Project Description

Do you suffer from shortness of breath or hyperventilation during presentations or other speaking moments? You will eventually run out of breath. Does this happen to you? Then you will have experienced that every attempt to control it worsens your hyperventilation. But what does help?

I once gave a ‘Public Speaking’ course in which a television hostess participated and fainted during a take. Fortunately, it wasn’t a live broadcast and the take could be redone. The incident had a huge impact on her personally. She dreaded television recordings more and more, because she was scared that it would happen again.

During the course, I let her give a presentation. She did it so well that nobody understood why she was participating in the coaching. Her own response was: ‘My heart was in my throat’. I like to believe that.


When I heard her speak, I noticed that she ended every sentence in a high tone. And because her tone kept going up, it became difficult to take a small break. She talked more and more agitatedly and it was tending towards hyperventilating. The presentation should not have lasted five minutes longer, or she would have fainted again.

This television hostess is not the only person that tends to end all her sentences in a high tone. Watch this. Many people do that. Admittedly, it sounds very happy, but a healthy and fascinating speaking pattern is, however, supposed to end in a lower, or softer tone and the tone should be resolute. This way, no residual air will remain. This prevents talking agitatedly, difficulty with breathing, hyperventilation, an insecure voice, etc.

There are always participants in a course that struggle with similar complaints like the television hostess in my speaking coaching programs. They speak agitatedly, hyperventilate, their hearts are pounding, and their legs shake. Fortunately, it rarely happens that someone faints.

No breathing techniques

If you have these complaints, please don’t try to solve this with breathing techniques. Your problems will worsen. The reason is that presenting something requires all of your attention. If you start checking your breathing at the same time, you are multitasking. It is proven that we cannot do that. The consequence is that you lose and block the thread of your story. The consequence of that is more tension in your body and it will worsen all symptoms you wanted to fight.

Breathing is an automatic process, a basic condition for our existence. An ideal way of breathing does not exist. Everyone, depending on the person and circumstances, has a way of adjusting their breathing which happens automatically and does not need much attention. The body rhythm will be messed up because of this. When you give a presentation, do what all people do that are in balance: never pay attention to your breathing.

An exercise

The cause of hyperventilating is not your breathing as such. Hyperventilation is a consequence, not a cause. It has to do with stress and tension. Do you suffer from hyperventilation during public speaking? And do you feel tension before it is your turn to speak? Then it is wise to do the following exercise.

Sit with your head upright and look, for example, at a painting at the wall, a little higher than at eye level. Look at the painting and take a good look at everything without mentioning it. Do this in such a way that you would be able to remember all the details of the work of art later on. In the meantime, listen to all the surroundings sounds. You are doing both things at the same time. After two minutes, you will experience that you have completely calmed down.

Don’t stare

Furthermore, make sure you don’t start staring, keep your eyes active, and keep watching everything around you. It is important that you remain in the real world. That is a lot better than staying in your own staring world and let your thoughts take you for a ride and your brain plays the wrong movie.