Preventing Nervousness from Affecting the Voice
by Ramesha Nani
Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of feeling nervous before giving a talk?! You’re about to go on stage and you can hear the sound of your heart pounding in your chest. You tell yourself to stay calm, that everything is going to be alright, that you know your stuff and you’re absolutely confident about what you’re going to say.
Finally you get on stage and start speaking, hoping to somehow camouflage your nervousness, but realize with dismay that your voice is shaking, exposing the fear that you’d hoped to conceal, making the situation even more uncomfortable.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Is there a way to avoid it? How?
While there are ways to cure nervousness and stage fright, they require a commitment of time and energy, as well as a desire to grow and improve. I’ve found meditation a very helpful tool to allow me to work with my emotions and thoughts, and be able to view things from a center of peace and calmness. You can learn a simple and effective relaxation technique here.
Our subject here, however, is what we can do to control our voice so that it doesn’t give away the fact that we’re terrorized!
I remember an experience I had a few years ago, when I was studying to become a school teacher. As part of my training, I taught a few classes while the supervisor sat in the back to evaluate my performance and to see if I was fitting to be a teacher. I remember how nervous I was during those sessions! I was supposed to teach a class for about an hour, “pretending” like the supervisor wasn’t there (easy to say!). At the end of each session, the supervisor commented on my performance and often remarked how confident and relaxed I looked and sounded. In thinking about it later, I realized that my years of voice training had given me the ability to control my voice when feeling nervous, and prevent it from shaking or sounding altered in any way.
There are two skills that are necessary to be able to control your voice and prevent it from shaking:
When a voice is placed correctly, your throat muscles are able to do their job without unnecessary tension. The resulting sound is full, strong, and resonant.
Correct breath support provides the vocal cords with a steady flow of air, preventing the sound from cracking. Breathing correctly also helps to calm and center you when you’re feeling nervous and overwhelmed.
If you follow the suggestions in the videos above, you will be well on your way to learning how to sound confident and comfortable, even when you’re not.
Do You Like the Sound of Your Voice?
Volume II of the Speaking Voice Limiters
This is a video series about the main vocal issues that speakers run into and how to address them. The second “limiter” is about the common issue of not being satisfied with the sound of one’s voice. There are more coming, so stay tuned!