There was an American opera singer called Dorothy Sarnoff who had the most beautiful voice but also the most crippling stage fright.
If you worry about presenting when nerves kick-in, imagine trying to sing a bit of Gershwin.
It was while working with acting legend Yul Brynner that Sarnoff develop a technique that helped her.
It became known as the Sarnoff squeeze and it worked like this.
"Before she went on stage she would stand and push against a wall because she found by engaging her abdominal muscles and controlling her breathing she could block her Adrenalin production. Adrenalin is in part responsible for the flight or fight response we feel when our nerves hit the pit of our stomach."
You can achieve the same effect by following these simple steps:
- Sit in a chair with your back straight but not rigid and lean forward slightly.
- Put your hands together in front of your chest with palms pressed firmly together and fingertips pointing upwards.
- As you exhale make the ‘ssss’ sound - as if you were air were leaking out of your bike wheel.
- As you make the sound concentrate on your abdominal muscles - just where your ribs begin to spread apart.
- You should feel these tightening as you exhale.
- Relax the muscles and inhale slowly.
Breathing tips like these from professional actors are crucial to help us deliver a more confident and powerful presentation at work.
Unfortunately when we are in an important meeting or presentation our breathing can go wrong. We might notice it's faster, lighter or that our pitch has gone up and we are beginning to sound a bit strangled.
You know your stuff, you’re ready and you’ve even practised, so why does this have to happen?
The breath is where the body and the mind meet.
So often when our emotional state changes it’s our body that tells us so. What is laughter if not a disruption of your breath? See also crying or gasping with shock.
And who hasn’t sat in a cinema watching an ill-advised horror film and suddenly realised they are holding their breath?
To find out more about Hendrix Training’s unique actor-led presentation skills coaching please email us or call directors Lucy Morgans/Steve Hemsley 01892 519504.