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Breathing When Speaking

  1. Jul 21, 2014 #1
    So I've been watching a lot of videos on speaking and communication recently because I want to be an effective speaker and communicator in everyday life and interaction with other people.

    I've mostly focused on observing important political figures (Presidents, Senators, Royal Family etc.) and successful business persons (Entrepeneurs, Investors, Successful People etc.). One thing I have noticed about all of them during interviews and speeches is that they all share one common characteristic when they speak.

    They all take sudden little quick gasps of air at opportune moments. It's almost as if they pause on purpose and then suddenly breathe in quickly and resume with what they were saying. I have noticed that they ALL do this but what is the purpose? What do they pause for? and more importantly why do they always sneak littles gasps of breathe at sudden opportune moments?

    Can anyone enlighten me as to why this might be?

    It's just wierd because they do it even when they are not out of breath which indicates its not from lack of oxygen? What are your thoughts on this?
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014
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  3. Jul 21, 2014 #2


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    While I haven't necessarily spent much time noticing this, my suspicion is that these little "quick gasps of air" are intentional methods for ensuring that the speakers will not become out of breath when giving a potentially long speech. I've seen similar strategies employed by musicians who play woodwind instruments (e.g. clarinet, flute, oboe) or brass instruments (e.g. trumpet, trombone, French horn) -- I used to play the clarinet during my school days and I employed this as well.
  4. Jul 21, 2014 #3
    I have this theory that when two people interact, one dominates the experience while the other is passive. You see it all the time. I suspect these suttle breaths are to insure that the speaker is dominating the experience. The you and I, here creating this moment together, type of experience. You know what I mean? I mean is it even air they are breathing in? Or is it consciousness? The blood of the universe. The one thing all living forms share in common that I believe to be like liquid you can't see floating around from person to person. Comment if you think I am crazy or if this makes any sense.
  5. Jul 21, 2014 #4


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    That made no sense at first then wandered into crazy. Sure in some social situations one or more people dominate the scene, this isn't necessarily an aggressive or bad thing. It may just be that they have more to say and others prefer to listen. Many conversations are not like this. Pauses for breath are an important part of giving a speech or presentation, especially if there is limited time for the speech. That doesn't mean it's a useful attribute in a conversation.

    As for universe blood and liquid whatever I'd ask you to familiarise yourself with the site rules before you wander off into spouting crackpottery.
  6. Jul 21, 2014 #5


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    While this thread quickly got out of hand, I would say that as far as one person is "dominating" in a social situation, it has nothing to do with conscious techniques. Experienced public speakers on the other hand, probably utilizes various techniques (more or less), discovered by their experience alone, or in other ways. But real charisma, I would say, is not dependent on that.
  7. Jul 22, 2014 #6
    Breathing correctly is an important part of speaking. Different people use different methods and many professionals will use a speech coach.


    The people you see are not gasping they are taking deep quick breaths using the diaphragm. Exhaling gives us the force our speech. In order to have the volume of air do it correctly we have to breath in correctly.

    Last edited: Jul 22, 2014
  8. Jul 22, 2014 #7
    Did you ever think that it's maybe cause they're just nervous? Public speaking is very nerveracking, especially if you have a tempermental crowd staring you down. I remember giving a talk at the Tuscon 8 consciounsess conference in 2008 in front of several dozen "peers" and was scared to death, even though I knew my stuff. I rehearsed my talk several times in front of family and friends but was still tongue tied looking into those judgemental eyes of my peers.

    I'm also in a band and perform around the Seattle-Tacoma area. This is typically much less angst ridden, but whenever you're in front of a crowd, they are expecting something from you, and it goes with the particular situation. Sometimes they are easy and sometimes they are not so easily pleased. I can't think of who it is, but there was this singer/songwriter female artist that said something that really impacted with me, she said that when you are giving a performance (or scholarly talk by association), what the people in the audience are giving you is the most precious thing they have to give, their ATTENTION. Do not take that lightly.

    So here is where your shortness of breath comes in. In my experience, as a musician and as a lecturer, you very much run the risk of embarassing yourself publicly if you're not on your game, and that can make you choke on your own breath frequently.
  9. Jul 22, 2014 #8


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    I know one (semi-annoying) person who understood this technique quite well, but turned his knowledge to the "dark side": whenever someone else had been speaking longer than he liked (i.e., more than 15 secs), or was in the middle of saying something he disagreed with, he'd wait for that little pause for breath intake and then start speaking firmly himself. It's quite effective at cutting off the 1st person -- until the 1st person becomes annoyed with it and starts shouting... :biggrin:
  10. Jul 31, 2014 #9


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    Never breath and speak at the same time, people will think you are French.
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