"Your breathing is the key to calming yourself down because you can lower your heart rate and calm yourself by the proper breathing techniques. And so we call this diaphragmatic breathing, and anyone in theater arts and anyone who sings will do this type of breathing. It's also used in yoga and mindfulness, where you take that deep breath, imagining that you have a balloon inside your stomach, and as you breathe in the balloon expands. You hold it for a few seconds and you exhale slowly, and that slow exhale brings your heart rate down."
-- John Watkis
This episode's the second half of my interview with performance coach, professional speaker, and author John Watkis, as we discuss empathy, breathing, and the key to speaking with confidence.
A Bigger Toolbox
The second half starts with a deeper look at the role silence plays in effective speaking, and whether storytelling is necessary to connect with an audience. John points out how some of the most famous speeches in history have effectively used elements like relatability and repetition, and the importance of using every tool at your disposal. As he puts it, “when you need a screwdriver or sandpaper, make sure those are elements in your toolbox too.”
Both Sides of the Board
We also talk about active and passive listening, and how often we find ourselves listening just enough to form our own reply, without really considering the other person’s words. “That's listening in and of itself,” he says. “We think we hear it, but we're not hearing what they mean.” John compares such exchanges to a game of chess, and, as in chess, the key to effective communication is to use empathy and consider the perspective on each side of the board.
Remembering to Breathe
We conclude our interview with a look at why, as an introvert, John prefers the intimacy of Clubhouse to some of the bigger social media networks, and he offers some practical advice on breathing, relaxing and speaking with confidence even if you aren’t a natural. “At any point when you feel nervous,” he explains, “it usually means you haven't been breathing. In fact, I watch speakers who gulp on air because they've been speaking without taking a breath.”
The role of silence and storytelling.
Repetition, rhythm and effectively using metaphors.