When Nervousness Makes Your Voice Quiver

Posted on Posted in Public Speaking

Has this ever happened to you? You stand to give your speech or presentation; and, when you begin speaking what comes out of your mouth is breathless, higher in pitch and quivering to boot. So what is to be done?

In most cases, nervousness is the cause of the quiver. (There are some voices, however, that quiver whether one is nervous or not.) There is a means of eliminating the quiver that works even when you are nervous.

Personally, I like nervousness. It is that wonderful rush of adrenaline that, if used to your advantage, can give you an edge in public speaking. What I don’t want, however, is for your nervousness to be seen or heard. The quiver is definitely telling your audience that you would rather be somewhere else.

A quivering voice is the result of stress and pressure on your delicate vocal folds (cords) and throat. Nervousness exacerbates the problem. By learning how to breathe with the support of your diaphragm and allowing your chest to become your primary amplifier, you will find the quiver disappearing automatically. It is truly amazing to see and hear this happen.

When I was teaching at the college level, one of my students was a 40-year-old woman. Her nervousness was so great when she gave her 1st speech, that I was surprised she didn’t stop and leave the room. By the end of the semester, however, the change in the woman was stunning. During this public speaking course, I taught all of my students how to find their ‘real’ voice, the one that is richer, deeper, warmer and mature in sound. That was the reason her voice stopped quivering. She was still nervous but we were unaware of it because she was able to control it.

And, it is not just the nervous who can experience a shaking or quivering voice. This problem often affects the elderly and is sometimes heard in younger voices as well. Changing the way you produce your sound will not only solve the problem but give you a voice that is ageless – not too old – not too young. It will be warmer in quality, deeper in pitch, and much more resonant.

Your quivering voice will not go away until you eliminate the undue stress on your vocal folds which can only happen when you learn to support your breath and use your chest to power your sound. As an added bonus, you will find it is also the best means of controlling your nervousness in any form of public speaking.


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