There’s something that thousands of hours of live and pre-recorded video work have taught me – how people read things into our tone of voice that we might never have intended. It’s crazily easy for our voice to go from calm, credible and grounded, to whiney and untrustworthy – without us even realising. So here’s a ninja tip to turn that around in under sixty seconds.
It can help you to feel calmer, as well as giving you more credibility on screen, whether it’s a team meeting, a presentation to a client, or creating a training course.
Here’s What Happens:
If we’re stressed or tense or nervous or worried – or irritated or angry – it shows in the body. Shoulders get worn as earrings and we shift from belly breathing to upper-chest breathing.
And even if you’re not stressed, sitting in a chair can trigger this, if we slouch our shoulders and curve our backs. This compresses the diaphragm (just below the rib cage) and the lungs and triggers upper-chest breathing.
The problem with this – apart from the fact that you won’t be sending as much oxygen to the brain as it needs to think clearly – is that it trigger’s the body’s fight-flight-freeze response.
Shallow upper-chest breathing kicks of the ‘sympathetic nervous system’, which is the bit that puts us on high alert for threats and danger. This diverts blood flow from the frontal cortex of your brain (the bit that answers questions brilliantly) to the primal part that only cares about survival.
That’s why, when we are stressed, it’s hard to think straight, we can easily lose our train of thought, and we can’t answer questions as easily, if we’re put on the spot.
The adrenalin and cortisol that flood our body also increase the likelihood of conflict. The part of the brain that is designed to look for threats will be trying to find them in your team meeting or board presentation. And if it’s looking for them, you’re more likely to interpret throwaway remarks as criticism or challenges.
The other side effect of this – which is made much more obvious by being on video – is how it affects our speaking.
Upper-chest breathing constricts the throat, which changes the sound of the voice and can make us sound whiney and negative – without us meaning to. And the other people in the meeting are hard-wired – at a deeply subconscious level – to to notice stuff like that.
It’s a near-instant credibility-trasher.
And there’s more…
The posture that comes with the fight-flight-freeze response gives signals to others on the call that you’re up for a fight. And if this was triggered by poor posture slouching, it tells others you’re bored, or lacking confidence. And all of this information is processed at a below-conscious-awareness level.
They’re signals we never intended to give off. But others make assumptions about us as a result of them, without realising.
What’s the solution?
If you spot your shoulders turning into earrings or notice that you’re tense and your throat feels tight – how about playing with this now, anyway:
- Take three deep sighing breaths (in through your nose and out of your mouth with an ‘ahhhh’ sigh – these can be silent, if you’re live in the meeting!)
- Shrug your shoulders a few times to release the tension – rolling them in circles, if you’re ok with doing that on camera. This helps to increase the oxygenated blood flow to your brain.
- Sit up straight, tucking your chin under slightly, to relax your neck and throat muscles.
- Consciously allow your breathing to return to your belly area and focus on the physical experience of belly breathing for at least ten breaths – this resets that fight-flight-freeze response.
- Then smile before you next speak. If it’s not a topic where smiling is appropriate, then smile inside. Allow a gentle wave of calm, relaxed confidence to wash through every cell in your body.
It works every time! Breathe like a confident, calm, relaxed and alert person and your body will do the rest. How about trying it out now and letting me know in the comments how it feels?
Want More Like This?
I’m running an online workshop about how to deliver highly engaging online sessions and I’d love to get to share it with you.
It’s all about how to take the stress out of online meetings, presentation and training, achieving much better outcomes in less time, without having to use masses of tech or turn into a children’s TV presenter!
In this 90-minute session, you’ll discover:
- The one big secret that most pro-level on-stage presenters are still missing when they go virtual, so you can up your game with near-zero effort.
- Game-changing tweaks – how to avoid the top ten mistakes that most people are making when they ‘go live’, which can turn your audience off, even before you start to speak. Each of these can be fixed in seconds.
- How to move from ‘Death By Virtual Powerpoint’ to highly engaging, high-impact virtual sessions that attendees rave about – and which inspire your teams, with ease.
To make it easier for your diary, I’m running this session twice, so you can pick which one works better for your schedule:
Thursday 14th May or Wednesday 20th May at 2pm UK / 9am EST.
And it’s not a get-lost-in-a-crowd-of-200-people-webinar. It is a maximum 12-person workshop, with plenty of live interaction, so you feel fully supported, get answers to your questions, and can share your breakthroughs with others, as though we were together face-to-face.
I want to make this session affordable, whilst still offering the quality and service you deserve. Plus, as you might know, I love to reward action-takers!
So the regular price for this training is £197. And if you join us by 5pm on Monday 4th May (no longer a bank holiday in the UK – you’ve got to wait until next Friday for that…) it’s less than half price at just £97.
Here’s where you can grab one of the 12 places on the session of your choice:
I’d love to get to share this with you!
Got questions first? DM me and let me know.
And I’d love to hear from you: how might you remind yourself to be more aware of your posture and your breathing during video calls? And what difference did this technique make for you?