Stage fright is a normal occurrence experienced by a lot of people when placed in front of an audience. In fact, 90% of people feel nervous or extremely nervous before speaking up. Stage fright and fear of public speaking can also make you tremble and shake, feel dizzy, have increased heart rate, turn bright red and sweat profusely. These experiences can make you think twice about agreeing to do a presentation or going on stage and eventually, you abandon the whole idea of public speaking. But this shouldn’t be the case.
So, what can we do to deal with this stage fright and fear? Here are 6 tips to help you deal with stage fright or fear of public speaking.
Tip #1: Embrace your nerves and anxiety.
Understand that nerves and anxiety are a normal part of life and a normal part of public speaking and other performances. Rather than trying to eliminate it, try to harness the nervous energy and make it work for you. Your peak performance mode requires a healthy level of nerves and anxiety.
Tip #2: Use some form of relaxation technique.
Learn to do some quick relaxation exercises, such as shoulder shrugs, deep breathing, meditation or even some yoga exercises before going on stage. The quick relaxes are great for stress in everyday life and especially good before a performance or public speaking. Find those that you can easily do in 10 to 30 seconds right before your public speaking. I personally do deep breathing (see tip #5)and try to mediate before each presentation.
Tip #3: Do lots of preparation and even get feedback.
Practise in front of your family or a work colleague. Use an app such as coach’s eye where you can compare practise sessions and see the changes you have made and the improvements. Visually seeing improvement is a great confidence booster, as is receiving feedback from a trusted colleague.
Tip #4: Arrive early and walk on the stage or platform and visualise your success.
Visualise your opening and your closing. Visualise the audience applauding. Visualise the people in the room and their faces. You can even take this visualisation a step further and play a movie of your performance in your mind. This is high level visualisation and is called “Future Pacing”. The result is that you have already done your performance, before you even take the stage for real.
Tip #5: Practise deep breathing.
Breathe deeply using the lower diaphragm the same as opera singers are trained to do. Deep breathing is the secret to becoming relaxed and keeping you system oxygenated. Many people switch to shallow breathing when they get on stage and the shallow breathing does not help calm nerves or control anxiety. You can check by resting one hand on your belly button. If your hand is not moving in and out as you deep breathe, then you are probably doing nervous shallow breathing.
Tip #6: Understand that the audience is already on your side.
The audience wants you to succeed and they are listening to you out of self-interest. Satisfy that self-interest and they will be a happy audience regardless of your nerves or anxiety. Simply, what does the audience want from you? What knowledge, what message, and what problem do they want you to solve? Deliver what they want and you will have done a great job.
Although feeling nervous and anxious before public speaking is normal, you should not let it get in the way of your success. Follow these tips to learn how to deal with and control your stage fright and reduce your fear of public speaking. You can also check out our blog for more public speaking tips and our workshops and webinars to learn more public speaking skills.