Stay CalmRecently one of my newer clients asked me for advice on how to stay calm at an up-coming event, when she had to sit through another person’s talk before giving her own business presentation.

Since she already struggles with nerves and a shaky voice even when she doesn’t have to wait to speak, she was really worried about whether or not she could even give her presentation under those circumstances.

I have already written in prior posts about the power of breathing to help us to get and stay calm; but this particular client needed something beyond the usual advice about taking slow, deep breaths to relax yourself.

Having to wait to speak when you are already nervous about speaking in the first place requires a more potent strategy than simply doing deep breathing.


This technique requires that you pay a great deal more attention to your breathing. It changes your focus from your worries to focusing on your breath. Here is the protocol.

  1. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. This needs to be a belly breath, not a shallow breath going only as far as your chest. (The easiest way to count the seconds is to silently count 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000.)
  2. Hold that breath for four seconds.
  3. Exhale through your mouth for four seconds, pushing out as much air as you can.
  4. Hold the exhaled position for four seconds.
  5. Repeat at least 4-10 times, or for as long as necessary to keep your focus on your breathing and counting instead of on your nerves.

After the event in question took place, I emailed my client to ask her if the 4 by 4 Breathing Technique was helpful. Here is her reply:

The breathing technique really helped to calm me down during the session and I’ve also been using it ever since.

I invite you to try this technique yourself whenever you feel nervous about something. It certainly doesn’t have to be an up-coming speech! Life provides plenty of challenges along the way to help us grow into the fullness of our possibilities.