Shaky Voice? Here’s Help
By Susan Berkley

A subscriber writes:

“Whenever I get nervous my voice gets shaky. It’s embarrassing. How can I fix it without medication?”

SUSAN: When we become nervous our body secretes adrenaline, known as the stress hormone. The purpose of adrenaline is to help us fight or flee when danger looms. However, the quivery-voiced, teary speaker is rarely in physical danger, but usually suffering from psychological stress. An overabundance of adrenaline in the bloodstream has many physical effects, one of which is a rapid heartbeat and rapid shallow breathing. This tense breathing directly affects the sound of the voice causing it to “quiver” when tension restricts the breath.

The most effective cure for a quivery voice is to address the root of the tension. In stressful speaking situations, such as giving a talk in public for example, the root of voice tension is often a desire to appear perfect and error free in front of others. If the speaker is well prepared for her talk, she should try to take the focus off of herself and how she is feeling or looking and focus instead on what she intends to give to or share with the audience. She will calm down immediately and her voice will sound 80% calmer and better as a result. For the other 20%, burn off some of that excess adrenaline by getting a little bit of exercise before a talk–walk briskly up and down the hallway or do some isometric exercises, tensing and releasing your muscles while waiting to speak.

Singing or speaking out loud is another great way to burn adrenaline and relax the breathing so the quivers will disappear. Believe it or not, a little anxiety while speaking is perfectly normal and even useful because it keeps us alert and on our toes, ready to respond and react in the moment.

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Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist and founder of The Great Voice Company, a company devoted to teaching great voices around the world how to become successful voice over actors. The Great Voice Company is an international leader in voice over training and in providing top quality voice over recordings in all languages to discerning businesses and marketers. For additional information visit

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