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When Nervousness Makes Your Voice Quiver in Public Speaking

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach

othing is more embarrassing for a speaker than to be plagued with a voice that quivers, shakes, or skips an octave when standing at the lectern or the head of the conference table. It is a problem for many people and can easily be eliminated by taking control of your nervousness and speaking from your chest.

And your reaction to those words is probably to question how you can possibly speak from your chest when everyone knows that you talk from your voice box, your throat, your mouth, and, in some cases, your nose.

You are correct in the sense that that majority of people use only those 4 resonators in speaking. However, those 4 resonators are just part of the picture. You cannot have a voice like that of James Earl Jones, Kathleen Turner, George Clooney, or Ashley Judd unless you include your 5th resonator, the chest cavity. This is why their voices are richer, deeper, and warmer than most of the voices that you hear among your family, your friends or your colleagues.

In order to produce sound, you must have a cavity in which
Nervousness – and a sound arising primarily from the voice box and throat – sometimes produce a wobble or a quiver to the speaking voice...
the sound waves can vibrate and be amplified. The cavities including the voice box (which house your vocal folds), your throat, your mouth and your nasal passages will produce a voice that is higher in pitch, less resonant in quality, possibly nasal, throaty, wimpy, weak, strident, harsh, young-sounding, too loud or too soft. I could go on and on listing the various characteristics of the speaking voice that is being powered in this manner.

What happens when you add your chest cavity, however, will change the quality of your sound which is why I refer to it as your ‘real’ voice. Everyone has a better voice inside. It is merely a matter of finding it.

By now you are probably wondering what this has to do with a voice that quivers. Nervousness – and a sound arising primarily from the voice box and throat – sometimes produce a wobble or a quiver to the speaking voice that cannot be eliminated until you take control of the nervousness and, at the same time, take the pressure off your throat.
Everyone has a better voice inside. It is merely a matter of finding it.

Once your chest is powering your sound and you are speaking in your ‘real’ voice, you will notice an immediate difference because your chest will be doing more of the work and your voice box and throat will be doing less. It is almost as if you are going over your throat when you speak. Another benefit of allowing your ‘chest to do your talking’ is that you will discover the best means of controlling nervousness in any form of public speaking.

International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice training, future workshops, and Voicing It!, visit her Voice Dynamic website. http://www.voicedynamic.com


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