Amy Carroll » Speaking Tips » Controlling Your Nerves–Part 2

Controlling Your Nerves–Part 2


When I get nervous, I start to lose my breath which isn’t great for a speaker.

I want my audience to be at ease as I start, and a shaky voice just doesn’t do it.  I struggled for a long time with this problem until one day I heard a radio personality talk about a method called square breathing.

Although my nervousness has lessened with time and practice, I still feel the butterflies start during my introduction.  I’ve learned to embrace a little nervousness as a natural adrenaline rush that will help me open with energy, but I want to have a steady voice.  Square breathing has been the answer for me.  Here are the steps:

  • While counting to 4, inhale slowly through your nose.
  • Hold the breath for 4 slow counts.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth while counting to 4.
  • Hold the breath for 4 slow counts.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

I think this works for several reasons.  It makes me slow my breathing down which keeps me from hyperventilating.  It floods my body with oxygen which helps clear and sharpen my mind.  It also gives my brain something to do (counting) besides thinking about how nervous I am!

I hope this simple, practical tip will be helpful.  If you have any tips, please share them in the comments.


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One Comment

  1. Elizabeth Coppin says:

    Thank you for this tip, I will try it! When I was in college I had several presentations I had to do in front of the class. I spoke with my teacher because I had terrible stage fright. He told me that when I am speaking I should find three or four points in different areas of the room to make eye contact with so that I am “scanning the room”. He also said that if I look just above their heads I won’t get stuck staring at just one person and it still looks like I’m making eye contact. I don’t know if this is the best advice but it worked for me.