Before an important meeting like a job interview, it is natural to feel a little anxious. For a start, most people think about how nervous they are, especially if they haven’t been interviewed for a long time. They often worry about things that can go wrong or fear they will come up short of what is required. But if you’ve conquered most of your nerves, what can you do if your voice is still a bit wobbly when you feel under pressure? Here are some quick ways to stop your voice shaking in job interviews and other important presentations.
A shaky voice could ruin your chances of success
As with handshakes, a person’s voice has been found to tell us very little about an individual’s actual personality.
However, a study conducted by Glasgow University found that people took less than one second to form an opinion of someone’s personality based on their voice saying the word ‘hello’ alone.
There was also strong agreement between those rating the voices across 10 different personality traits, and this was stronger for the traits of dominance, attractiveness and trustworthiness.
Other studies have found that we use our impression of a voice to assess someone’s competency more than we do from their appearance.
Science behind voice changes when nervous
It is not surprising that excitement or nervousness have an impact on our voice. Our larynx muscles have more nerves than any other muscle in the body except the eye, which enables us to produce over 325 different pitches. And sometimes an unwanted frog in our throat!
5 tips to stop your voice shaking in job interviews
To help you to relax your voice and speak with confidence and authority, before your interview try the following voice control tips and exercises:
1. Centre yourself
Either in a sitting or standing position, place your feet flat on the ground about a shoulder width apart. Thinking about your posture, straighten your spine and stand tall. Slumped shoulders and slouched posture can convey nervousness when you are speaking.
2. Control your breathing
A shaking voice can be caused by irregular breathing. Taking deeper breaths will slow your breathing down to a normal rhythm.
Try this exercise: Breathe in by expanding your belly. Your chest and shoulders should not raise when doing this. Breathe deep and slow – putting your hands on your stomach may help. Breathe in for a count of three, pause and breathe out for a count of three. This exercise will also help to lower your heart rate.
3. Open your throat
Go somewhere private and stick your tongue out as far as it will go. Then, with your tongue still sticking out, recite out loud a nursery rhyme or a limerick. This exercise opens up the back of your throat, helping you sound more confident and capable.
Hold up your hand and say your introduction to your palm. Now choose a point on a wall opposite you and say your introduction again. Visualise the sound coming out of your mouth in an arc so you will need to tilt your head up a bit for it to reach a point on the wall at head height.
5. Keep your energy up
Starting a sentence well and then fading or mumbling towards the end can indicate that you are not confident in what you are saying.
Practise maintaining energy levels and pronouncing words that you might stumble on.
During the job interview
When it is time for the meeting to start, maintain your posture, smile and walk and stand tall.
If, during the interview, you start to stutter or your voice cracks: SLOW DOWN. When we are excited or nervous our speech tends to be higher and faster than usual. Breathing from the belly slowly will help you to slow down if you start to quicken your pace, and stop your voice from shaking.
And remember, you were asked to come in for the interview for a reason. Somebody was impressed enough with your resume. Out of all the other applicants – and in some cases there may have been hundreds or thousands of them – they thought you were the most impressive.