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Acquire: Keep It Moving

Acquire: Keep it Moving

This week, I attended a panel discussion.

I noticed that the speakers were actively breathing for speech — amazing. Then I noticed something else, a pattern.

Inhale, speak, hold, inhale, hold, speak.

For the cheap seats in the back by hold, I mean holding breath. It isn’t surprising to find people holding their breath in public. The surprising element was how they were holding their breath.

These speakers had clearly learned to engage inhalation before their speech, and to use air efficiently while speaking. Generally, I expect people to hold their breath as they are thinking about something, or in order to regulate the body. It isn’t even that uncommon to see people inhale and hold their breath. But, this hold sandwich was new to me.

In practice, it meant that over time their ability to inhale freely and use air efficiently was compromised. The dynamic speech of the first part of the talk has not evident at the half-way point. This is incredibly disappointing given that thought had clearly been given to breathing in the beginning.

Today, I want you to practice moving breath as you speak. To actively think about how you use breath and I want you to do it differently than you might think. Speaking (or other voicing) is the work of exhaled air so think of the exhalation as the action and the release of that effort, the inhalation, as passive.

Use air, replenish, use more air, replenish.

If you pause to think about something, or are actively trying to moderate your reactions, make yourself breath anyway. Even if you aren’t sure if you are getting it “right” moving the air is always better than the alternative.


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Gina Razón is the principal voice specialist at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service voice and speech studio in Boston’s Back Bay.  She has over 16 years of experience both as a teacher of voice and speech, and a voraciously curious voice user.  Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker.  For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.

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