21 Tips to Overcoming Stage Fright
Whatever the survey, public speaking is ranked among the top – often above death. If you don’t know how to speak in public, you could be hurting your professional and personal life.
There are two types of people in this world:
1. Those scared to give presentations
2. Those who love them.
Me, I fall into the first category.
Though l’ve gotten better at over coming stage fright over the years. I did that by first by participating in School Plays, Debate Team, School Council, Debate Team, and finally part of the School Choir. That was while I was at school.
Today, I am still fighting to overcome stage fright.
Learning to improve your speaking or performance skills is good, but it’s generally not enough to substantially reduce your fear.
You must address and revise any negative perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, images, and predictions related to public speaking or performing. I’ve come along way from feeling ill when having to do a speech in front of 30 people.
Learning to accept yourself and not feeling that you have to prove yourself to others is at the root of healing.
It is recommended that you learn skills to reduce and manage your fear and anxiety and not resort to using medication alone.
My 21 Tips to Overcoming Stage Fright!
Here are my tips for preparing and delivering great talks by any presenter speaking on any topic.
1. Be Prepared
Have your material ready in advance and read it aloud to hear your voice.
Write out a script. Talk out your presentation in front of a mirror or a smaller audience, such as a group of trusted friends. Record a video of it and study how it looks and sounds.
Avoid using index cards as a prop. They usually result in presenters appearing stilted and less confident. Memorize key talking points and then the bits in the middle will take care of themselves.
Of course, the best way to make your presentation run smoothly is to practice.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Knowing your stuff helps, but it doesn’t necessarily eradicate the problem. You need to practice as much as you can before the performance or public speaking d-day.
Really know your content inside out and practice (preferably in front of a live audience) as much as possible to build your confidence.
3. Be Natural, Be Yourself.
We all have stories to tell – there is none else like you. So give up trying to be perfect and know that it is OK to make mistakes. You will be more relate able that way.
4. Visualize Your Success.
Stop scaring yourself with thoughts about what might go wrong. Instead, focus your attention on thoughts and images that are calming and reassuring. Refuse to think thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence.
5. Think Worst Case Scenario
If you can’t calm yourself down with positive talk, then maybe it is time you thought about the worst case scenario. Once you do this, you’ll realize that the worst case scenario isn’t really that bad. This might help calm your nerves.
6. Look at the Big Picture.
Think about the overall story you want to tell and how you want people to react. What’s the big takeaway? How do you want the audience to think and feel after your presentation? This is essential whether you’re presenting to 10 people or 1,000.
There’s a lot of science behind storytelling. People tend to absorb information through crisp, compelling storytelling. A good story will connect with them and influence their behavior. There are several models for structuring a story.
Think of the movie you love most and I bet you’ll find each of these elements. The stories in your presentation should follow the same arc, including the “heroes”, the tension and the inciting incidents.
As you move through your presentation, insert mini-stories to illustrate your overall story. Begin by stating the point of a story and then fill in the details afterwards. That way, the audience will understand the gist.
Humour is good, so long as it’s not over-the-top. However ensure the audience will understand it.
7. Arrive Early
Obviously, if you are late, this will only heighten your anxiety. Arrive early and acclimate to your surroundings.
8. Start by Being Calm.
Practice ways to calm and relax your mind and body, such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, yoga, and meditation. Limit caffeine to avoid being to jittering.
9. Talk Yourself Down
You need to realize that even though stage fright is “all in the mind,” the fear manifests itself in physical ways. The best offence is to change your negative talk. Stop worrying about, “What if I forget the content?”
Change that into positive talk like, “What if I am great at this?” It may sound simplistic or too easy, but positive affirmation will go a long way in reducing stage fright when speaking in public.
Fifteen minutes before speaking in public and going on stage, do a few stretches. This will loosen your tense muscles which will relax your body.
11. Double Check Everything
Do you have a laptop or notes? Check that everything works. When you walk on stage and suddenly realize that you forgot your notes, it’s too late. Of course, your nerves will take over. Know your speech or presentation so well that should this happen, you can continue without a hitch.
12. Seeing is Believing.
The key thing to remember: less is more. Shoot for about 10 slides in a 30-minute presentation. That’s plenty.
Use slides with pictures instead of a lot of words. The more text you have on a slide, the more your audience will be distracted from what you’re saying. They’ll be too busy reading.
Slides with pictures to match your words support your narrative. If done smartly, then it will increase the impact of your presentation quite a bit.
13. It is Not All About You
Though you might feel like everyone is out to laugh, criticize or judge you, that is not the case. Get over the feeling that the world is going to hang on your every mistake.
Focus on your speech, audience and what they deserve from you. This will ease the pressure that is already accumulating.
14. Tame Your Happy Feet.
Don’t wander around on stage. The more you walk around, the more your audience will follow you around rather than listening to what you have to say.
For each of your messages, it’s best to stand still, slow down and project. Walk around in between key talking points and while describing less important details. Drop an anchor when you come to your next important message.
Naturally amplify your speech by thinking about communicating to the back row. That way you will be communicating with whole room.
15. All About Dynamics.
Alternate your vocal tone and use pauses and pacing. During key passages, slow down and amplify your speech. Then pause and let the point resonate in the silence of the auditorium before moving back into a conversational style.
Act like you’re having a conversation with a colleague.
Get them to interact with you by asking at least one question that they need to answer together.
16. Keep Calm, Don’t Rush It
Don’t rush your presentation. Start slow to allow yourself time to set a comfortable pace. You need time to get used to the audience and the audience also needs time to get used to you.
17. Never Apologize for Being Nervous
Three quarters of the time, no one will notice you’re nervous. You may feel yourself shaking and shivering, but your audience might not be aware of it.
Don’t mention it. It will make your audience nervous too and they will be too worried about your performance to get much out of your presentation.
18. Dress for Success.
“Clothes make the man” – Beau Brummel.
We choose our clothes, grooming, and accessories to show the world who we want to be. All of us want to be looked at as an authority in our industry. To become this figure that people will give their trust and respect to, we must be confident, put together and seem like we should be giving them advice.
“Deep down, we’re all shallow.” Oscar Wilde said that.
It’s human nature that it is difficult to trust somebody who is not dressed properly. We don’t want our heart surgeons and pilots to wear torn blue jeans and ripped T-shirts.
They say clothes are either about sex or power.
Guess which type presenters wear?
19. Don’t Share Your Mistakes
You may have prepared, practiced and feel good about your speech or presentation. However, on stage you realize you mixed the order of topics or you forgot an important point. You need to remember, you’re the only one who knows you made a mistake! Your audience doesn’t.
Don’t make them aware of the mistake because some people might start looking for more holes in your presentation.
20. Get Through the First 5 Minutes, First.
Imagine your entire presentation is only five minutes long. Doesn’t that make it less stressful? By focusing on just getting through the first five minutes – you will calm down and the rest of the presentation is downhill.
21. Get Ready for Disaster-Proofing.
Sometimes, things don’t go according plan. You micophone or your powerpoint presentation may not be operating right.
When something like that happens, smile and keep your composure. If an audience is fidgety and has a short attention span, just stick to your plan. There’s not much you can do to fix a presentation in the moment. You’ll be fine if you’ve prepared well then you can continue on.
The bottom line is, try to enjoy giving presentations.
As it is your moment in the spotlight.
If you are willing stop avoiding your fears and learn new skills to reduce and manage them, you will develop an empowering belief and trust in yourself. In facing your fear, it becomes possible to overcome performance anxiety and find comfort and ease in expressing yourself in front of others.
Want To Be Able To Communicate Your Message, Make A Great Impression And Create A Real Conversation, Every Time?
All it takes is mostly training, self condifence and practice.