Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

These are three quite separate - and serious - tips that deal nicely to the symptoms of nervousness.

Why deal with symptoms of nervousness rather than tackling the fear itself?

Symptoms? Yes. So this is going to be superficial? No.

In the long run, it's best to deal to the fear itself - that's obvious. But modern neuroscience has established that when you change your physical response to any stimulus, you change the wiring of your brain. In other words, managing the symptoms also works on your automatic responses. Not superficial at all.

Do you feel the nervousness as a tightness or aching in the throat? When you speak, does your voice sound as if you're squeezing it through a strainer? If so, all three tips will help you.

Technique 1: hum at the right pitch

I'm serious.

  1. Find a quiet spot and start humming.
  2. Change the pitch until the soft area under your chin vibrates.
  3. Stay on that pitch until the vibrations spread a feeling of relaxation through your throat and down towards your shoulders.

(Don't do it in front of the board of directors unless you're auditioning for Madame Butterfly.)

Technique 2: drink only lukewarm liquids

Iced drinks will put your larynx into the Antarctic - not a region known for its opera singers.

Also, don't drink carbonated liquids unless you want to belch spectacularly into the microphone.

Alcohol? Sure, alcohol can work brilliantly - in the mind of the presenter. Shakespeare was onto something when he said, "Drink provokes the desire but takes away the performance."

Technique 3: tilt your head back and pull down on your jaw

Seen that old toothbrush ad that asks if you have a flip-top head?

  1. Start by tilting your head back and pushing your jaw at the ceiling.
  2. Hold that pose for a few seconds until you feel tension in the muscles under your chin.
  3. Now put a couple of fingers over your bottom teeth and pull slowly but firmly downward - until you feel that it is possible have a flip-top head.
  4. Change the pressure on the hinge of the jaw, smoothly increasing and decreasing the pressure.

(Don't do that in public either, unless it's in front of dentists.)



Interested in a workshop on presentation skills for your team?


About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally-charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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