There is a lot of information on the internet today about eliminating your nervousness in public speaking. I suggest learning how to control it instead, allowing your nervousness to work for you and not against you which can take your delivery to new heights.
What I offer is not a tip or a trick but the most important thing you can do when you stand to speak. It is something physical.
1. it is something we don’t do;
2. it is something we don’t know to do; and,
3. it is something we don’t know how to do (properly).
Now that I have you totally confused, bear with me. Once I tell what ‘it’ is, you might say rubbish; although, for those of you who have done presentations in the past, you possibly remember running out of ‘it’ while speaking!
I am talking about breathing, specifically breathing with the support of your diaphragm, a muscular partition below your rib cage which separates your chest from your abdomen. 99% of the population does not breathe with this support which is why we are often called lazy or shallow breathers. It is a medical fact.
There is one group of people in the world, however, who must breathe with this support — opera singers. That is why they are often called professional breathers.
There is another group of individuals, though, who also breathe with this support and they are called newborns. Every infant breathes with the support of the diaphragm, but as the child develops he/she tends to stop this practice and reverts to using only the upper portion of the chest to breathe.
All mammals have a diaphragm. All mammals breathe with the support of the diaphragm. It is only the most intelligent of the mammals who do not make use of this extraordinary muscle. If you do not believe me, go stand in front of a mirror and take a deep breath. Did you suck in your gut, lift up your shoulders and throw out your chest? If so, then you just did it wrong.
When I started my business back in 1989, I joined the local chamber of commerce. At a new member’s orientation, we had to stand and introduce ourselves. There had to be 150 people in that room and I knew no one. While sitting there waiting for my turn, it suddenly dawned on me that my introduction was my business. As one who teaches people how to improve the sound of the speaking voice, I realized that if I blew that introduction, I could kiss my business goodbye, at which point I began to sweat. My heart was beating with such fervor that I could feel it in my cheeks. Finally it was my turn. I stood; I took a breath; and, I proceeded to say who I was and what I did. I sounded calm, collected, in control. They had no idea that I was ‘dying a thousand deaths.’ And, I knew it worked because when I sat down, a gentlemen in the back said, “That’s the Voice Lady!”
[Incidentally, if you are a woman, do you find your shoulders, neck, upper back, and/or jaw sore by the end of the day? I do not. I have plenty of stress in my life but because I breathe properly, I never experience tension in those areas. Trust me -- it's all in the breathing!]
Shallow breathing results in oxygen starvation which means we are not eliminating enough of the carbon dioxide in our bodies, thereby a toxic buildup occurs. And, while this toxic buildup has many adverse effects, for the purposes of public speaking, it actually increases our tension, our stress. Think of the last time you gave a speech or a presentation. Did the pitch of your voice go up? Did you find yourself breathless? Did you start speaking faster and faster? These are all symptoms of nervousness exacerbated by poor breathing habits. So ask yourself this question.
Would you like to remain part of the 99%? Or, would you like to become part of that 1% who allow their breathing to control their nervousness as well as experiencing a host of other benefits that have nothing to do with the voice or presentation skills.
Take control of your nervousness and let it work for you, not against you! The Voice Lady Nancy DanielsVoicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement and public speaking. Click here to watch Nancy describe The 5 Characteristics of Dynamic Public Speaking in her 8-minute video offers private, corporate and group sessions in voice and presentation skills as well as