Do you need to drink a lot when you talk a lot?
Are you bothered by the need to clear your throat repeatedly throughout a meeting, presentation or performance?
Are you and your voice tired after a presentation?
Talking can make you dehydrated, breathless and congested. It can trigger coughing and throat clearing. It can tire you. Your voice can become strained. When your profession involves using your voice – e.g. barrister, speaker, actor, journalist, singer – you can then be in trouble – the quality of your performance suffers and your income may drop.
Vocal strain (voice strain), mucous production, airway irritation and dehydration can all be precipitated by over-breathing. Not only does this physically traumatise your airway and vocal cords, but the excessive loss of carbon dioxide from your body on the overly large exhaled breaths, sets off a train of physiological reactions including narrowing of the blood vessels to your brain and heart, and revving up your heart and your autonomic nervous system into fight or flight mode. This is good if you’re faced by a marauding tiger; not so good if you are presenting to your biggest corporate client.
If you are an over-breather, presenting to an audience can also bring on a thumping heart, sweaty palms and armpits, dizziness, nausea, going ‘weak at the knees’ or even going blank. These components of stage fright are well-documented symptoms of over-breathing/hyperventilation and acute carbon dioxide deficit!
Today, over-breathing is actually far more common than normal breathing – analysis of breathing pattern research indicates that over 90% of the population habitually over-breathe. Very few are aware of it. Rarely is it checked for.
If you over-breathe then breathing less can save your voice!
Try the Faulty Breathing Quiz.