“Talking From the Diaphragm” is BS
Have you ever heard that you should “talk from the diaphragm” for a powerful voice? Well, it’s bull hockey. The diaphragm is the major muscle of inhalation, true. But unless there’s a neurologic problem, every breath anyone ever takes involves the diaphragm. So you’re already using it!
But what about “supporting” your voice from the diaphragm, you ask? Great question! Indeed, we speak on an exhale, not an inhale, but guess what? The diaphragm has no role in controlling our exhale! It therefore has no active role in controlling our voice.
So what do people mean when they make this inaccurate statement? They mean you should engage your abdominal muscles when you talk. You can’t actively engage your diaphragm to push air out, but you can actively engage your abs, which is where “breath support” comes from. This means that the volume control button on the human voice instrument is located in the belly!
The short story is that when you inhale, your abdomen moves outward. This is because the diaphragm pushes down on your internal organs, which get displaced. When you exhale, the process reverses itself and the abdominal wall moves inward. When we speak, we engage these abdominal muscles to varying degrees in order to control the sound we create.
If you’re one of the many folks who breathes in the opposite way (when you inhale your chest lifts and your belly moves in), you could get a lot more mileage out of your voice by working with a coach.
So the next time someone tells you to use your diaphragm when you talk, you can take a belly breath and know you have it down.