Have you ever been super nervous when you had to do a speaking presentation for work? You know your voice starts to shake, your knees go weak, your throat closes up, and then you forget what you were going to say?
I’m going to show you three proven ways that you can steady that voice and calm those nerves. So, stay tuned.
- Why do we get nervous in the first place? It’s time to find out what the origin is of your issue around being seen and heard.
- Public speaking or the thought of being humiliated in public, is only a perceived danger not an actual danger.
- Warming up the voice and body for public speaking is the first thing that you need to do before you go and do that presentation
- Learn about the 2 most important parts of your presentation and how to memorize those for a more successful speech.
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FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
You know so many people suffer from stage fright and nerves when they’re public speaking and it can be so stressful for them that they actually avoid it like the plague. But by avoiding something we actually make fear even stronger. So today, I’d really like to show you some simple tricks to stabilizing that voice and dispelling those fear chemicals.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Understanding the Physiology of Nerves .
Now the most important thing to understand is why we get nervous in the first place. Well, the Amygdala in the brain it’s a warning system that is constantly on the lookout for danger in order to keep us safe. But the problem is, that public speaking or the thought of being humiliated in public, is only a perceived danger. Not an actual danger. Let me give you an example of how the Amygdala actually plays a role in everyday life. If you were shut down as a kid or not allowed or encouraged to speak up and out for yourself at home, you’re going to have some natural fear around being seen and being heard.
The same thing goes if you’ve been in a long-term relationship and you felt that it was unsafe or unproductive to even speak your mind. This is something that you need to understand first and then get over fast. It’s not something that you were born with – the fear of speaking – and you certainly don’t have to suffer through it forever. Believe me, I used to be the most nervous person that you can ever meet but as soon as I learned to calm my nerves and steady my voice, everything changed. I became a far more effective coach and a more confident speaker, singer and actor but there are a few mindsets shifts that we need to do first before we can move on.
Now let’s look at the psychology of nerves for a second. When we’re nervous, we get butterflies in the tummy, we get tension in the body, our adrenaline starts to pump and we start to get energy flowing around the body. We’re really supercharging our system for fight or flight to deal with the impending danger. But now think about this, have you ever gotten really excited about something like a first date with an amazing guy or you’re about to get on a roller coaster or maybe you’ve got overseas visitors that are just about to arrive and that you really love and really miss them. We all know what excitement feels like: butterflies in the tummy. We get excited and we get all tense in the body. Our adrenaline starts to pump. Wait hang on a second that sounds like nerves. See it’s actually so similar. We experience the same symptoms. One mindset is positive around these symptoms while the other is negative. So, let’s reframe the whole thing and call it nervexcitement because that’s what it is. It’s challenging, yes, and it can be a bit nerve-wracking but it’s also exciting to be able to speak and inspire and educate other people. It creates a rush of excitement and it can make your day more fulfilling and enjoyable.
2. Warm Up the Voice and Body for Public Speaking
Warming up the voice and body for public speaking is the first thing that you need to do before you go and do that presentation.
The very first thing that most inexperienced people do when they stand on stage and get ready to speak is this: “aheeeemmm”. Now, that’s absolutely not necessary to clear your throat especially when there’s no mucus in the way and in fact, it can tire out your poor little vocal folds very quickly. The best thing to do is actually do a five-minute warm-up for your whole body and your voice so you’re primed and ready for speaking. I’m going to take you through a super quick warm-up for public speakers:
Warm Up #1: The Bubble
We’re going to place our hands very gently on the side of our face just to loosen up the cheek muscles and the lips a little bit and we’re going to bubble up and down the range to get rid of any mucus and any tension that’s flying around.
Now, you do that just a few times and you’ll notice that your voice gets very loose and really relaxed. Try it with me one more time. That’s called the lip bubble.
Warm Up #2: The Siren
The next one is an “NG” sound just like the end of the word “sing”. Now, when you’re doing that, you want to make sure that you’re going from the lowest point of your range where you speak, right out of your speaking range right up into the head voice. So, we’re going low to high and back to low. Super simple.
Warm Up 3: The Vibration
The next one is to bring the resonance to the front of the face and really get that sound popping. So, it’s easier for you to project and be heard when you’re speaking and it’s with an “M” bringing the “M” forward so it vibrates in the face. Now if you’re doing it correctly, you’ll feel the vibration literally in the front of the face behind the lips and it feels all buzzy and really easy to do.
Warm Up #4: Open vowel sound like a “Yeah”.
And we’re just going to go up and down the speaking voice and then all the way through the range. Have a listen – “Yeah”. Nice and strong all the way through –“Yeah”. Now we’re going to break through and get even higher “Yeah”. We want to go all the way up and all the way down as smoothly as possible. Now what we’re doing here is making sure that the voice is warmed up and that there is absolutely no mucus or there’s no mucus lying around on the vocal folds and you’re covering every single note that you could possibly use in a public speaking presentation.
Warm Up #5: Tongue Twister
I’m going to teach you two really simple tongue twisters:
a. “My mother makes me mash my m & m’s on a Monday morning” and we’re going to do it very smooth and flowing just like speech but you’re going to use different pitches. It goes like this “My mother makes me mash my M & M’s on a Monday morning” bringing that resonance to the front of the face again just like the hum that we did before. Let’s raise the pitch as though you have to speak louder and higher this time: “My mother makes me mash my M & M’s on a Monday morning”. So now you’ll see that my voice is becoming quite resonant and strong just because of those warm-ups that I’ve done. Now let’s make the articulators work a little bit harder. We’re going to do “The tip of the tongue and the teeth and the lips” in the same way. The tip of the tongue and the teeth and the lips” four times. Now the goal is to do it at least four times in one breath in a very flowing motion. So now you’ve got all the resonance in the front of your face plus you’ve working up all of your articulators all at once in five minutes. Super quick warm up.
Now the last thing I would do is make sure that you’re standing up straight, you’ve got lots of energy and enthusiasm and that will get you in the right mindset as well.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Or does it? Now if you’re going to be giving a presentation at work, I hope you’re preparing to practice the content and go over it as many times as you need to get it flowing confidently but here’s the number one thing I want you to remember: Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes permanent. So, if you practice too much and not correctly, that technique will actually get locked into muscle memory and will be learned really well. It’s like going somewhere the wrong way and then repeating that every single time. So correct practice is key. But what is correct practice?
I teach my speakers some secret acting techniques that really help lock in content and it’s all about using the body in space and put that into muscle memory. For example, I learn things in chunks and I place the chunks into an imagined body part like this: For instance, the introduction. The introduction is super important and when you’re starting any presentation you need to be right in the middle of a frame if you’re on camera or in the middle of the stage downstage center if you’re on stage. Now, to lock in that introduction, you want to practice with your hands and your body in a certain position because when you learn something in body, you’re actually putting it into muscle memory. Just like we learn as children: Twinkle twinkle little star. As soon as we do those actions, we remember that there’s a star and we put that into the action into the song. Children learn that super-fast. We just forget to do it. So “Hi! My name is Elisa James and I’m a voice coach and a presentation coach and I love to help people speak up and out with confidence and power and ease”. Now I would be practicing with over exaggerated arms and hand movements at first to lock it into my body but if I’m talking from the heart, I’m going to, in rehearsal, touch my heart if I’m thinking about something and I want to talk about mindset in rehearsal, I’m going to be doing this: with my hands to remember that it’s mindset. Now when you’ve done that 20 times, then you’ll be able to do it in your mind and not in space in actuality. So, it’d look like this: Hi! I’m Elisa James. I’m a voice coach and a presentation coach. So now, I’m going to remember my content because it’s already locked into my body with my memory and I’m going to infer the action with my hands but not do the entire action with my body. That makes it super simple to remember content.
Now after you’ve finished your introduction, for instance, the next step would be to move or change the direction so you know that you’re going off in a new direction with a new action and a new inflection of the hand of the voice.
Now, the intro and the outro are the most important things that you need to commit to memory first. So, make sure you know what you’re going to say in the introduction and you know how you’re going to end something. This is where people mess up the most. Usually, due to nerves or lack of preparation. So, if you’ve done those parts at least 50 times and locked it into muscle memory in your body, the rest will flow more easily.
Do not forget: Speak up. Speak out. Be ready to be heard because remember: YOUR VOICE MATTERS.