When I first heard the phrase, ‘imagine your audience is sitting in their underwear,' I thought the speech coaches who suggested this were kidding. But they’re not. They are serious. They believe that by focusing on this visualization, you will eliminate your nervousness.

The last thing which is going to make me feel confident is addressing a group of people who are sitting in their undies! I don't want to focus on my audience in this stage of undress – I want to focus on the message I am presenting.

There is a much better way to handle nervousness. And it doesn’t involve underwear or staring at an object on the wall. The best means of taking control of your nervousness is to learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm. It is not an intellectual technique. It is not a spiritual technique. It is not an emotional or social technique. It is something you can do physically to control your anxiety and feel more comfortable and relaxed while addressing an audience.

Why do I want you to breathe? And, more specifically, why do I want you to breathe with the support of your diaphragm? Because without air, there is no voice. Without voice, there is no presentation. But on a deeper level, supported breathing actually decreases your stress because it clears the toxins in your blood.

Shallow or lazy breathing, which is the most common method of breathing by the majority of people, actually increases your stress, your panic, and your nervousness. What this means is that the toxins in your blood which are responsible for your anxiety will increase with this type of breathing. Take a supported breath, on the other hand, and the anxiety dissipates. What you will also find in the process is that you are sharper, more focused, and more alert.

While diaphragmatic breathing is definitely the most important thing you can do physically, the other 4 techniques are also invaluable. Intellectually, you must know your material inside and out. Spiritually, you must believe in yourself. Making eye contact is the social component, providing an intimacy with your audience which staring at a wall cannot achieve. And the last technique, the emotional refers to speaking with color and with life by means of your vocal variety, your facial expression and your body language.

Hypnosis, taking pills, undressing an audience, or avoiding eye contact with those who are eager to hear your words are not the answers to harnessing your nervous energy. Learn to breathe correctly and let your nervousness work for you, not against you.

Author's Bio: 

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, group and corporate training in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit Nancy's Voice Training Website and watch as she describes the best means of controlling nervousness in any form of public speaking.