Executive Speaking Weblog

Communication – the future of business

Breathe Easy to Stop Nervousness

Posted by Presentation Skills on March 29, 2008

Have you ever experienced any of these symptoms before you have to speak?

  • Dry mouth
  • Sweaty palms
  • Shaky hands
  • Knocking knees
  • Accelerated speech
  • Thinking at a million miles an hour, and
  • A desire for a nervous wee!

Well you are not alone! These are some of the many common symptoms of nervousness. Some of the more severe symptoms can include extreme reactions such as sleepless nights, hyperventilating before and during your speech, as well as being physically ill.

If you suffer some of the more mild symptoms, there is good news available. You can control these with breathing. If you suffer them more serious symptoms, these breathing skills will form part of an overall approach to controlling your nervousness.

To help control your nervousness, it is important to understand that what our body does is controlled by our brain. Even the involuntary responses that we have are controlled by our brain. Therefore if we can control our brain, we can control our body.

One of the best ways to slow the brain down (and therefore the rest of the body) is to focus on your breathing. When we are nervous we tend to breathe in short sharp breaths. This gets the oxygen in quickly, and this helps us become more agile (this is a throw back to the old flight or fight reflex).

To reduce your nervousness, breathe in 5 long, slow deeps breaths. Take about 5 seconds to breath in, and then just let the air run out of your lungs. Feel your shoulders drop down as the air leaves your lungs. Make sure that you fill your lungs as much as possible. Breathe right down from the diaphragm, and make sure you fill you shoulders as well. It is amazing how much air you can fit in when you straighten your back and fill the top of your lungs.

By following this simple technique, you will find your nervousness subsiding. Just remember to not breathe too quickly as you may hyperventilate! Also, if you breathe in too quickly you will not get the relaxing and calming affects of the breathing.

‘Til next time,


Darren Fleming

Australia’s Public Speaking Coach


One Response to “Breathe Easy to Stop Nervousness”

  1. Ajay kumar said

    how to take control on breadth while speaking

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