The first time I had to introduce myself professionally was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. I remember sitting, waiting for my turn to stand and walk to the lectern amidst 150 members of the London, Canada Chamber of Commerce. At first I was relaxed until it dawned on me that my voice, my own personal introduction, was my business. And then I began to sweat!

My heart was beating so fast and so hard that I was sure the gentleman across the table from me could see it beating in my cheeks. While certainly nervous before giving a presentation, my nervousness that day was greater than anything I had ever experienced prior because I knew that my intro could make or break my business.

When it was my turn, I took a deep breath, stood, and walked with assuredness to the lectern even through my heart was racing at what seemed like 100 miles a minute! Once at the lectern, I acknowledged the audience by scanning from one side of the room to the other and then proceeded to introduce myself. I sounded confident. Those in the audience had no idea that I was dying a thousand deaths.

Upon finishing, I returned to my seat and a man in the back of the room said out loud for all to hear, “That’s the voice lady.” I knew right then and there that what I was teaching was the answer for combatting extreme nervousness in public speaking. It is something most people do not do and do not know to do. It is called breathing with the support of your diaphragm. (Most people rely solely on the upper chest for respiration.)

This type of breathing allowed me to look and sound confident because I was powering my voice from my chest cavity and not just my throat and vocal folds (cords). This type of breathing allowed me to approach the lectern with grace and to look composed even though I would rather have been anywhere but there.

When you have been introduced as the speaker, your goal is to project confidence, not only in your delivery but in how you walk to the lectern. Yes, you must know your material very, very well and you must treat your audience like you were having a conversation in your living room. But part of the judgment made about you will be that long walk to the lectern when all eyes are studying you – your visual image and how you carry yourself.

With your head held high, breathe, smile, and walk with purpose and confidence as you acknowledge your audience. Remember, you will be nervous but your audience does not need to see or hear it.

Author's Bio: 

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Nancy's Voice Training Workshops.