Yes, these 3 all link together, and all signify fear and trembling for many of us; in fact, speaking in front of others is right up there with fear of dying. Standing up in front of other people and 'performing' in whatever capacity can be a very daunting prospect. Nerves kick in, and the horrible side effects include dry mouth, shaky voice, gabbling, waffling, losing focus and even forgetting your train of thought altogether.
This can all be put right with training, and the great thing about learning solid techniques is that once you have them, they will never let you down. You don't have to be particularly brilliant, gifted, confident even; you just have to learn how to do it. Actors do it as part of their job, and everyone does a bit of acting in their daily life pretty much every day. Did anyone ever say "how are you?" and you replied "I'm fine, thanks" when really you weren't fine at all, but you didn't want them to know that?
So here's a quick tip to deal with nerves. When we exhale, we tap into a 'relax' nervous state: the brain sends the heart a signal to relax and our blood pressure drops. Take a slow, deep breath through the nose, to gain plenty of oxygen to the brain, then a much slower breath out through the mouth, as though blowing gently through a straw. Try breathing in on a count of 5, hold for 2, then out on a count of 10 (ie double the count). Do a few of these breaths as you prepare to go up to your pitch, presentation or podium. You will begin to feel calm, focused and in control, ready to speak with confidence.
I have been working as a voice and speech coach since 2006 and am also a professional actor with 30 years experience (nominated for a Manchester Theatre Award 2014). I train people to speak clearly,…
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