Walk, Stand, Breathe, Speak

by janetkayfetz

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Erica Cooper and Bingyi Cao, Columbia University

You are at a group meeting, or a conference, or an investor meeting — anyplace where you will be presenting your ideas to an audience. Perhaps you are standing at the side of the room waiting to move to the front. Maybe you are sitting at the meeting table and need to make it to the front of the room near your visuals. And it is your turn to speak.

These next few moments may seem obvious and simple. How do you get to your spot and start speaking? And how do you do it gracefully in full view of your audience? Let’s break things down into four steps:

  1. Walk

If you are already standing, walk in a relaxed manner to the place you choose to be for the beginning of your talk. If you are sitting, stand up, walk behind your chair and push it in calmly, and walk to your spot. Look at where you are going — don’t look at the ground while you are walking. If you are feeling extra confident, look at the group and smile.

You create an impression through the way you move and get yourself settled. Your audience will be looking at you the moment you start to move, even before you say a word.

  1. Stand

When you arrive at your spot, turn, face the audience, and stand in what I call neutral position.

  • Place your feet solidly under your hips. Don’t put your feet too far apart; if close together is comfortable, that’s okay.
  • Try to point your feet straight forward, not in a “V” shape.
  • Stand tall with your sternum up and arms relaxed at your side.
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Sea Pong and Alex Scarlett, UCSB Senior Capstone 2013

 

  1. Breathe

Looking at your audience with a relaxed expression, breathe. Take a nice deep breath, not a shallow tentative breath. Inhale. . .

  1. Speak

. . . and speak on the exhale.

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Alex Sarraf, UCSB Senior Capston 2014

As you practice Walk-Stand-Breathe-Speak, think of each step as an independent unit, and execute each step completely before moving to the next step. For example, don’t walk and speak at the same time. Walk, establish your standing posture, breathe, and then speak. And about speaking? Remember — don’t speak without first taking a good inhale and sending some beneficial oxygen to your brain.

Then when each step feels solid within the sequence, let everything flow into a smooth pattern, and move fluidly into the beginning of your talk.

 

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