Breathing exercise for voice and beating stress

Dilly shows you a simple, very effective way to deepen your breathing, to give you lots of fuel for your voice and to keep you calm.

Summary of tips

  • Breathe well to project your voice and keep calm
  • Use ‘The Flower and the Candle’ exercise


Breathing well is really important, not just to support your voice to, allow your voice to project, but also to keep you calm.

Now the simplest, best breathing exercise I’ve come across is this one – it’s called ‘The Flower and the Candle.’

You have to imagine that there is a flower in front of you, something that smells lovely. Pick up the flower and very simply, smell it. And that means you’re taking the breath right down into the body, to the back as well as the front.

Then you pause for a little moment, then you let the breath out as if you’re bending a candle flame but not blowing it out completely.

Smell the flower, and blow on the candle.

Now what you’re doing with this, is instead of snatching the breath or taking the breath in the top part of the chest – which we often do, particularly when we’re nervous – we’re taking the breath right down to the bottom of the lungs.

Imagine the lungs are great pear-shaped organs, there’s much more space at the bottom than at the top. If you smell the flower, you’re taking the breath right down there automatically without having to think about it. The blowing on the candle is to keep you calm because when we’re nervous, we [gasp] hold onto tension and we release that tension breathing out.

So, if you’re nervous, concentrate on the OUT breath, let the IN breath look after itself. But this way, you’re getting 8-10 times more breath into the lungs, so simply, just by remembering ‘The Flower and the Candle.’


  1. I have found your tips hugely helpful.

    The breathing exercise is a good one – did it recently when I had to MC an event for a client. I felt good walking on stage, felt calm, approached the lectern with confidence, opened my mouth and…….the PA system packed in.

    It was quickly fixed and, another breathing session later, I began. Plenty of compliments, too, at the end of the evening.


  2. Great story Mike! You can rely on your lungs but PA systems… Good for you, keeping calm and using the breathing to keep going. So glad you’re finding the tips useful and that you’re getting plenty of compliments on your presentation.

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