Breathing Your Way to Being Better Understood

You know, when you know something? Except someone else knows something more and, when you know what they know, it turns out to mean that you don’t know anything at all. You know that feeling? Your positively, utter, certainty is instantly unraveled. In an hour of my life I essentially learnt how to live, well breathe and speak, as if I haven’t been for the past two decades. “Unconsciously incompetent” the lecturer pronounced my proficiency at these two tasks which we’ve been practising since we came wailing into the world. In fact this ineptitude encompassed our entire class, possibly many of you too.

Broadcast journalists need to be able to speak well to communicate in the clearest and most powerful way, but improved communication can benefit us all in our relationships and performances. There’s bound to be a time in every person’s life when they are severely judged on a spoken moment; whether it’s a job interview, appearing in a law court, conveying desired emotions in a eulogy to do a loved one justice, or having difficult discussions with family and friends.

Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics, writing in Stylist Magazine September 2011, said that interpersonal, non-verbal and speaking skills all form important facets of your personal impact and attractiveness, guiding how others perceive you.

“Attractive people sell more, work better in teams, are more productive and profitable for employers … social intelligence is increasingly valuable in knowledge economies,” said Ms Hakim.

Speaking well firstly requires breathing well. Read health journalist for the Daily Mail, Rosalind Ryan’s article on how to breathe correctly for good health here.

The remaining elements in developing human speech are notes, tones and words. Professor Patsy McCarthy, Queensland University of Technology Academic in Speech Communication, says clarity of word and phrasing and rhythm ability makes speech understood by others. However, it is the use of modulation, in both word and speech, which gives our vocal communication greater power.

“These are the elements that bring meaning and feeling to the spoken word and help us to fully connect with others,” says Professor McCarthy.

“The modulations of the voice can be achieved in tone, pitch and volume.

“The modulations in speech are made through pace, pause and emphasis.”

Get started by checking you’re not making one of the 79 common mispronunciations:

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