We recently worked with a high-powered businesswoman. She was confident, articulate, intelligent and very well respected within her organisation. She had to present to senior decision makers on a daily basis, and that didn’t faze her one little bit. But put her on a stage to deliver a ‘formal’ presentation, and the shakes would start. First, shaky voice syndrome which then spread to her hands. This one area of her job revealed a massive chink in her confidence.
You might wonder ‘why does my voice shake when I’m nervous?’ It’s one of the most common speech anxiety symptoms. Many, many people suffer from a shaky voice and hands when nervous – and even shaky voice anxiety long before the presentation has begun. When our brain releases adrenaline, it increases our heart rate and causes shaky hands or voice, dry mouth and sweating.
So does that mean there’s nothing that can be done about the shakes? Absolutely not. There are long-term and short-term solutions.
The ideal situation long-term solution is to reduce the amount of adrenaline produced when you are about to give a presentation. This is what we do when we work with our clients to help them to “Tame Their Public Speaking Monkeys” – we help them to think about public speaking in a more positive light, meaning the amount of adrenaline produced no longer leads to the shakes.
You can deal with your stress and anxiety by taming your ‘Public Speaking Monkeys’ – those voices of self-doubt that say negative and discouraging things (“Your knees are knocking”, “No-one is listening because you’re so boring”, etc). If you suffer from shaky voice or hands during presentations and you are ready to take action, get in touch. You can buy our book Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys: Building confidence for public speaking and presentations, or you could learn more about our multi-award winning one-to-one presentation skills training programmes and work with us in Bournemouth, St Albans or London. Once you’ve tamed your monkeys, you can flourish as a calm and confident speaker.
If you don’t like presenting and you’ve become nervous or anxious about it then the adrenaline will come and can cause the shakes. Once adrenaline is present in the body you need to use it up as fast as possible (where appropriate) and use temporary techniques to control your nerves and reduce the production of any more.
If you are able to, exercise before the presentation because this will use up some adrenaline. You don’t want to jog around the lecture theatre though so if you are already in the venue here are some tips to reduce shaking when public speaking:
A. Slow and deep breathing can be very helpful for calming down your mind, body and heart rate. Learn to relax your breathing – try this out!
B. For more information on improving your breathing check out if you are doing it right in this blog Don’t forget to breathe!
C. Posture – Instead of worrying about your voice shaking when public speaking, focus on having a good presentation posture/position before and during your presentation.
D. Use a previously created positive Confidence Charm. A collection of positive memories to put you in a different state) which is fully explained in my book Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys.
E. Follow our top tips and techniques on how to relax before a presentation
F. Easier said than done but try and get a good night’s sleep
G. Stay healthy – Some research suggests staying hydrated and healthy eating can help – however tempted you are – avoid alcohol intake the night before (or on the day!) and avoid excess caffeine intake.
H. Holding a microphone can accentuate any shaky voice, and putting it too near your mouth can highlight any shivering sounds – follow these tips to ensure you use the microphone correctly on our “Using a microphone for public speaking” blog.
Oh, and that businesswoman we mentioned at the beginning? She tamed her monkeys and now she enjoys every aspect of her work and feels calm and confident when she’s delivering a presentation. She surprised herself by saying she actively enjoys public speaking now!
After a recent talk, I gave on how to Engage, Persuade and Inspire when giving a presentation, a very senior person came up to me and took me to one side. They described how embarrassed they were when they came to give a presentation – they just couldn’t stop their hands from shaking. Their content was strong and they had practised hard but no matter what they did they couldn’t stop those shakes. They’d even tried beta blockers but they didn’t work either. I explained that it was those pesky “Public Speaking Monkeys” that cause the nerves and fear. That in turn caused more adrenaline to be produced and that I caused the shaky hands and sometimes a shaky voice too. As you begin to dread speaking more and more you create a downward spiral which makes the next time even worse.
I said that instead of having a spiral of negative thoughts the long-term solution was to work with me, Dee Clayton here at the multi-award winning Simply Amazing Training.
As a short-term fix I suggested they follow these tips to reduce shaking hands when giving a presentation:
A few weeks later the man I’d met at the talk called me to book one a one to one mentoring programme with us. During the second session with us, he learnt how to tame his public speaking monkeys and stop dreading presentations.
As a result, he reduced his adrenaline levels and began to feel more positive. In the subsequent sessions, he learnt a presentation posture to ensure he remained calm and confident when presenting and learnt the SAS structure so he knew exactly what to say and didn’t need to hold any notes.
In the final session, he got to practise with his mentor and get honest, supportive feedback on some easy wins to be even more confident in his body language and voice so he remained calm, confident and ready for anything.
If you’d like to learn more about our multi-award winning one-to-one presentation skills training programmes we’d love to hear from you – we are happy to work with you in Bournemouth, St Albans, London and surrounding areas. Or if you’d like to work with a multi-award winning company with accredited trainers, passionate about helping you contact us for more information about how we can help you with your fear of having a shaky voice or shaky hands whilst presenting at work.