Breathing Techniques to Overcome Presentation Nerves

Almost everbody starting out having to present at work feels very nervous about the prospect.  A few just get on with it and slowly build up their confidence and ability through hard experience.

Many however try and put things off as long as possible or end up experiencing one or more of the very common symptoms of presentation nerves –  which they might well describe as:-

  1. “I am petrified about it”
  2. “I’m very nervous”
  3. “I’m very anxious about everything to do with presenting”
  4. “My throat is so dry I can’t speak”
  5. “I’ll avoid it at all costs”
  6. “I’m afraid I’ll fail in front of my peers”
  7. “I get panic attacks”
  8. “I shake like a leaf”
  9. “My mind just goes blank”
  10. “I feel physically sick”

Have you ever felt that way yourself?

Am I unique feeling the way I do?

Most people dont realise that it’s very common to absolutely hate having to present.

It’s very common to be afraid at the prospect of having to stand up in front of an audience and speaking for 5 or 10 minutes.

And most people feel that way because of nerves and the potential for failure in front of colleagues or because of bad past experiences.

However, feeling nervous is natural in a situation like that.

And the good news is … that there are some simple strategies you can apply before you start to speak to help control the nerves and make you feel more relaxed.

Using breathing techniques to reduce nerves

Relaxation breathing techniques date back thousands of years.

You’ve probably already heard of the term “meditation”.  But did you also know that breathing is central to meditation?

Did you know that controlled breathing can reduce your blood pressure as well?  There is more than one device on the market that helps you reduce your blood pressure by helping you to breathe deeply in a controlled way.

Some simple research on the net about breathing exercies will demonstrate that it is actually a very powerful and yet very simple tool that you can apply to reduce stress and become more in control.

(Just try doing a google search for “breathing and blood pressure” and you’ll see over 4 million results!!)

Practise the techniques and feel the difference

So, practise taking in a few slow, deep breaths, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.

When you breathe out, try counting up to 20 out alound.  1 .. 2..3 ..4.. 5.. 6.. 7.. 8.. 9.. 10 .. 11.. 12.. etc

Make that outbreath as long as you can but dont force it. Then just let your in-breath happen naturally.

Try that a few times … increasing things as you go on … but dont do it too often initially or you might start to feel light headed!

Have you started to notice any difference in how you feel?

Just a couple of deep breaths can make a difference … so now you can use this before you start your presentation to help control your nervous energy and to calm you down before you start speaking.

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8 Responses to “Breathing Techniques to Overcome Presentation Nerves”



  • Tony Pignaton:

    It’s amazing. It’s very nice and it really works. I teach and some of my students feel nervous before speaking. I taught them this technique and they are nice now. Cheers.



  • presentation-skills.biz:

    Hi Tony

    Glad to have been of some help here.

    BTW – have you seen our latest artivcle at http://bit.ly/oxFE9



  • Dennis Lewis:

    When doing the above practice it is very important not to push the counting right to the end. In other words, no force. Also, don’t try “to take” an inhalation. Let it arise on its own after the counting is finished.

    Here’s a very safe, easy, and effective breathing practice that I developed to reduce stress and anxiety: http://wp.me/prVq1-8C. This will give you a good idea of the principles involved in lengthening the exhalation in a safe way, and thus turning on “the relaxation response.”

    Keep up the good work!

    Dennis Lewis
    Author of “The Tao of Natural Breathing,” “Free Your Breath, Free Your Life,” “Natural Breathing”; and “Breathe Into Being”.



  • Neita:

    I use this technique to teach my panicky addicted clients (I work in the mental health field). It’s a beautiful thing



  • presentation-skills.biz:

    Dennis, many thanks for the feedback and I take your point re not forcing things. (Have actually amended the article slightly to reflect that a bit more.)

    There’s clearly an enormous amount of benefit that can come from breathing differently. All the best.



  • Hadrian Carter:

    This a wonderful technique. It has helped me many times. Thanks for sharing.



  • Loren Fogelman:

    The breathe is very powerful. As you begin to count during the exhale, it actually keeps you focused on the moment and distracts the thoughts which contribute to the anxiety. There are many wonderful breathing techniques. Experiment and find the rhythm right for you.



  • Elaine Spitz:

    Very helpful points! It’s so valuable to consider breathing, whether you’re nervous during a presentation or simply a conversation or situation that is causing a bit of anxiety. With practice, you can feel back in control.

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