July 29, 2019
public speaking tips

It’s your turn to go on stage next. You’ve been sitting in your chair, leg jumping up and down nervously, reading your notes over and over again, breathing erratic, and heart pounding. You tell yourself “you’ve got this… Piece of cake”.

You walk on stage, stand at the podium, and clear your throat to speak into the microphone. Your palms are sweating, heart still racing, and your voice comes out trembling. You feel like a complete coward already, and it’s definitely not how you planned your speech to go. Sound familiar?

You’re not alone with your stage fear. It’s remarkably common; so much so that 75% of the population have fear when they’re on stage. In this post, I’ll provide you with 5 excellent tips on overcoming your stage fear so you can confidently wow your audience.

1. Nothing Is Perfect!

Remind yourself that nothing and no one is perfect, so give up trying to be. It’s completely okay to make mistakes. Be yourself, be natural, and don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not.

Once you accept this, it will be easier to combat and face the fear of messing up. When you look at the most successful people in the world, even they have made mistakes. It’s all part of the learning process. You mess up badly, and your speech isn’t perfect, so what? You know how to face it next time, and you know what to work on to improve.

2. Talk “To” Your Audience, Not “At”

These people are (or should be) listening to what you have to say, and they are actual people, just like you. They have fears and their own struggles just like you do. I bet that 80% of them get intense stage fear just like you experience.

With this in mind, I think it’s really important to talk to your audience as such. Don’t be robotic or too structured – just let everything flow. Be conversational, make a joke or two, and talk to your audience as if they were your friends, rather than a terrifying group of people. They are harmless, and it will be okay.

Once you realize that a “speech” is just a fancy term for actually just chatting to some people, you’ll enjoy yourself so much more.

3. Stop Those Negative Thoughts

Stress, anxiety, and fears build up immensely due to constant negative thoughts. What if I mess up a word? What if my voice sounds croaky? What if they don’t like what I have to say? Eliminate all these negative thoughts, and instead combat them appropriately.

Turn “what if I mess up a word?” into “who cares, I’ll just make a joke out of it”. Turn “what if they don’t like what I have to say?” into “I’m proud of what I wrote, I’m going to do a great job, and everyone’s opinion is different.”

Who cares what people think? Half of those people in the audience are probably thinking about what they’re eating for dinner or what Netflix show they want to watch next. These negative thoughts you are conjuring are YOUR OWN thoughts – stop imagining an outcome that hasn’t even happened yet!

4. Meditation & Relaxation Techniques

Through practicing different ways to calm your body and mind, you will ultimately have a more confident and relaxing outlook on life. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and other mental exercises that influence a calm-like state are perfect things to do prior to your stage performance.

Belly breathing is another good one to consider. This is a brilliant technique that works wonders in calming you down and slowing your heart rate; thus, leaving you in a more relaxed state than you were previously. Do it before your speech or performance and notice the difference.

5. Don’t Be A Statue

Do you stand completely still when you’re talking to people you know well? No. To get a message across, you might be swinging your arms about wildly. A casual conversation might involve an arm-crossing, smiles, or other bodily gestures that suggest an emotion.

I think it’s crucial to move around to reduce your stage fear. Your body has all of this adrenaline and fear, so why not channel it into movement? If you stand still, this will just continue to build up and make things worse. It will convey your anxiety.

As I mentioned previously, you need to talk to your audience as if they were your friends. Walk around on the stage, greet them kindly, pull your chest up and shoulders back confidently to show your power over their attention, use your hands to describe the topic and develop an image within their minds… All of these things can help you come across as more self-assured, convincing, and positive in your message.

Implement these tips, and I can guarantee you’ll be well on your way to overcoming your stage fear! Which ones have you tried, or do you have any other recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

If I can help you prepare for your next presentation, or if your group needs a speaker, let me know. Call 800-200-9292.

 

—Chuck

 

 

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