You know how stage fright feels. Just thinking about speaking in public causes sweat to pour down your body. Your hands tremble. Your legs turn to jelly. Your tongue feels like sandpaper and your mouth is dry. Your heart is pounding like a techno bass drum.
You desperately want to beat this fear. You can’t spend the rest of your life turning down opportunities to speak because of stage fright
Is your public speaking suffering because of stage fright? Here’s how to beat stage fright in 5 easy steps. All you need to know is the word STAGE and what each letter in STAGE stands for!
S is for SHIFT YOUR FOCUS
Take out your phone, out it in selfie mode and point the camera close to your face. Who do you see? You of course! And that’s how many people approach public speaking. By going into selfie mode and focusing solely on themselves. Do I sound intelligent? How do I impress them? Will they like me?
This approach will only heighten your anxiety and worsen your stage fright. So flip the camera in your head to regular camera mode and shift your focus to the audience. How can i make my talk so memorable for them? What tips can i give them to use immediately?
The human brain can only focus on one thing at a time. If you concentrate on the audience, you won’t have space in your mind to worry about yourself and indirectly stage fright becomes a non-issue.
T is for TRAIN YOUR BRAIN
Just imagine it. You go to the cinema. You buy your ticket, grab your popcorn and settle down in your seat. The trailers roll and the movie begins. Do you expect the movie to be a bad one? Definitely not!
But that’s how many people approach public speaking. They dream up every negative outcome. I’ll trip on my way to the stage and make a fool of myself. I’ll get booed off the stage. I’ll be so boring the audience will sleep. All these negative thoughts will only worsen your stage fright.
So put yourself in cinema mode and train your brain to expect only positive outcomes. See yourself getting a standing ovation. Imagine the eager expectant faces of an engaged audience listening with rapt attention to you. Hear yourself giving thoughtful responses during the Q and A session after your talk. Train your brain to vividly visualize good things happening to you before, during and after your talk. That will take care of your stage fright.
A is for ACHIEVE CALM
When you are relaxed, it’s impossible to get an attack of stage fright. You can achieve calm in a number of ways:
- DEEP BREATHING:This is especially helpful just before you get on stage. Take a deep breath in, pause and breathe out slowly. Repeat 10 times and you will notice that your pulse will start to slow down and you will feel less tense.
- PRAYER & MEDITATION:Some people feel calmer when they pray or meditate. Try it and see if that works for you. Remember, your aim is to beat stage fright and being calm is one of the key ways to achieve that aim.
- TONGUE TWISTERS:These are humorous, alliterative sentences or rhymes that aid in proper pronunciation. An example is SHE SELLS SEA SHELLS ON THE SEYCHELLES SEASHORE. Say tongue twisters slowly and exaggerate your mouth and face when pronouncing the words. You’ll invariably end up smiling or even laughing and in that relaxed state, stage fright will be far from your mind.
G is for GET PREPARED
How you get ready for your talk has a direct impact on beating stage fright. Here’s what you should remember:
- REHEARSE EARLY:The surest way to provoke a bout of stage fright is to start drafting your talk or presentation the night before the big day. Don’t leave preparation till late. As soon as you know you have a talk to give, start doing the research and working on your key points. Remember the advantage gained by the early bird. Apply that principle to your preparation if you want to beat stage fright.
- REHEARSE WITH AN AUDIENCE:Why? Isn’t practicing in front of a mirror good enough? No. Because when you get on the stage to speak, you won’t be looking at a reflection of yourself. You’ll be facing an audience. So practice with people watching you. Ask 4 or 5 friends to sit in the room while you rehearse. Their purpose is to make practice sessions as realistic as possible and to also provide feedback on what they remember and what they like or dislike about your presentation. Once you incorporate their feedback into your talk, you’ll be more confident about how the talk will be received and therefore less likely to worry about it which means no stage fright.
- REHEARSE ON VIDEO:In your practice sessions, ask one of the audience members to record you speaking. Watch your performance and evaluate yourself. You’ll notice what you liked (which you’ll maintain) and what you disliked (which you’ll discard from your speech). You will also get an idea of how the audience will see you on the day of the talk. Often we are unaware of annoying gestures we might make during a speech. It’s only recording and reviewing rehearsal sessions that these tics will be picked up. Rehearsing on video will ultimately make you more confident about your talk and more likely to beat stage fright.
- REHEARSE OFTEN:How often? As long as it takes you to know with certainty that you’ve covered all your key points and implemented useful feedback from your rehearsal audience and your personal evaluation of the recorded practice sessions. Remember the more assured you are, the more likely you are to beat stage fright once and for all.
E is for EXPRESS YOURSELF: Let’s begin by recapping the first 4 tips for beating stage fright:
- Shift your focus
- Train your brain
- Achieve calm
- Get prepared
After going through all these steps, it’s now time to get onstage and do your thing! Here’s what to do:
- SCRIPT YOUR INTRODUCTION:Give your profile to the emcee for your introduction. Keep it brief: your profession or job title, your experience, your speaking topic and your name.
- START STRONG:Your opening remarks should be delivered with you making friendly eye contact with your audience. If you still feel nervous, smile. The audience will automatically smile back with no idea how you’re feeling. People can’t tell you are having a bout of stage fright when you smile so take advantage of that fact!
- DON’T STOP FOR MISTAKES:Only you know how your talk is meant to flow from start to finish. If you make a mistake or stumble over a word, keep moving. It’s not the end of the world. News readers make mistakes every day but as long as they don’t call themselves out on those errors, they often go undetected. Adopt the newscaster attitude.
- END STRONG:Know exactly how you want to end your presentation. This is one key way to lessen stage fright because you have no fears about what the end looks like. Often, calm and assured speakers get flustered when the dreaded piece of paper with WRAP UP NOW on it is handed over to them. The temptation for most of them is to speed up but that only creates more mistakes and more anxiety. If your talk has to end abruptly simply go to your planned close, say it and let the audience know they can contact you for copies of the presentation.
So there you have it! 5 easy steps to beat stage fright and all you have to do is remember how to spell STAGE and that’s it:
- Shift your focus
- Train your brain
- Achieve calm
- Get prepared
- Express yourself
The Effective Speaker’sToolbox gives you tips to help you communicate effectively at work and in the media.
For training and coaching enquiries, email [email protected]