One of the greatest problems for the novice in public speaking is nervousness which often results in lack of air. While nervousness should be one of your greatest benefits when addressing an audience, breathlessness is not. The problem with the latter is that it increases your stress which in turn increases your nervousness. Left unchecked, it can even cause panic.

So how do you deal with both the vicious cycle? The answer is surprisingly simple yet most people are unaware of the solution.

First, I want you nervous. What? How could that be? Because nervousness, that marvelous rush of adrenaline, sharpens your focus and makes you more alert. It is truly a gift if you learn how to take control of it.

  • Recently, I saw a remark under a public speaking category on Twitter in which a young woman joyfully commented that she is never nervous in speaking. This overly confident woman has an issue and it deals with the word overly. I want you confident; however, anyone who is overly confident is a fool. Public speaking is a live venue and something can go wrong. Your equipment could fail; you could forget your material while speaking; you could say something that your audience finds offensive; or, you could have a medical emergency amongst someone in your audience. I have been present in all four situations. And, these are just a few of the problems that can occur.

Second, I want you breathing before you run out of air. It is called supplementing your air supply. If you wait until your supply is spent, the pitch of your voice will likely rise and you will probably go faster and faster. By pausing, be it in the midst of your sentence or at the end of a thought, and taking a supplemental breath, you will always have the oxygen necessary to support your voice. [The next time you are in conversation, take note that you probably interrupt your sentences to breathe. If you do this in normal conversation, why not do it public speaking?]

  • The true secret in breathing, however, lies in learning how to breathe with the support of your diaphragm. Most people are lazy or shallow breathers, using only the upper portion of their chest for respiration. Learn to breathe correctly (which is how all mammals breathe incidentally), and you will discover the best means of controlling your nervousness, bar none!

The benefits of breathing with the support of your diaphragm are so numerous that I cannot list them all here; but, its greatest benefit in public speaking is that you will gain a fantastic control over your nervousness and your breathlessness will be no more.

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.