As a child, I had fun talking and singing in front of the regular standing fan as it made my voice vibrate. I’d giggle whenever I heard my alien trembling voice.
Years later, I nervously gave a high-stake presentation to C-suite bosses, and my alien trembling fan voice returned. It wasn’t funny this time (except toone of the smug bosses who coughed to hide his snigger).
You see, I had forgotten to do this One Thing before my presentation.
My Poor Nerves
Have you gone on stage to speak and heard your shaky voice amplified on the microphone? So you speak faster to end the ordeal faster, but the shake just shakes even more and then maybe you realise your sweaty hand is shaking too. Even worse, someone recorded it and you cringe when you see the playback. And swear never to go on stage again.
Or you sound breathless, your throat feels dry and your heart starts pumping so hard, you know that the audience can hear it.
This heart pumping shaky trembling breathlessness happens due to excitement, rage or nervous anxiety. Excitement is often the happy version of nervousness so let’s not worry about it. And…I’m not going anywhere near rage.
So what can we do about this damn thing called nervous anxiety? Nobody likes this feeling.
This One Thing
Well, this One Thing can control this damn thing and it’s absolutely free. This One Thing is Your Breath. It works for me every single time.
Your breath is everything. It controls your emotions, your heart rate, your racing mind, and your life. You can live without water and food for 8 – 21 day, (extreme cases are 18 days for water and 74 days without food) without sleep for 11 days, and without your mobile phone forever. (Yes, really).
Deep slow controlled breathing has been practiced for thousands of years in India and China. There are now many different forms of breathing. Butekyo, Wim Hof, and Holotropic are just some of the trending styles. There are many breathing techniques out there, it’s really something for everyone for different occasions.
Your Breath Controls Your Mind, Body and Emotions
When you learn how to control your breath, you can control that nervous energy you feel in the pit of your stomach that makes your heart beat faster. I practice focused breathing meditation everyday and can slow my heart rate down from my regular 68 to about 52 beats a minute. And I’m definitely no athlete. (Healthy relaxed resting heart rate is between 60 – 90 beats a minute)
When you master your breath, you can banish that shakiness in your voice, and control the pace that you speak. Your mind also calms down and you get more clarity. All this lets you feel more in control of your body, and that makes you feel more confident which then increases your aura of confidence.
See how your breath created such a powerful knock on effect on your whole being? There are numerous studies on how breathing helps with anxiety and fear. As Alexander Lowen, the father of Bioenergetics stated simply, “Breathing is the most important thing in life.”
Great! Where do I start?
There are several breathing techniques that I use to control the nerves and improve the voice, but Box Breathing is a simple technique to start with. Just count to 4 as you take a slow deep breath into your belly. Hold for 4 counts and release for 4. Pause for 4 counts and repeat for several rounds. Your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, bringing your whole body into a state of relaxation and reduces stress hormones such as cortisol. When I guide my students and coachees through this technique, they all report feeling immediately relaxed.
Practice this several times before you have to go on stage, make a presentation to the bosses or before anything that makes you nervous. It will help you get into a calmer state to project the confidence or any energy that you want.