Stage fright is common among the majority of the population, and believe it or not, it even affects professional speakers, TV hosts, and performing artists. I know that may sound surprising considering that the above-mentioned make a living from the stage, so to speak, but anxiety is very real and debilitating no matter who you are. I get asked how I control my nerves when speaking in front of thousands of people. I know very well how anxiety can plague someone to the point of hindering the job at hand. I’ve always had to deal with anxiety, but I had to learn early on how to control my nerves when stepping onto the stage because I wanted to be a journalist. I knew I had to face my fear of public speaking if I wanted to be successful in a competitive field. It may surprise you to hear that I had to deal with anxiety being thatbecause I’ve made a career out of presenting in huge venues all over the world in front of a lot of people. But I’m a prime example of how the jitters don’t have to be the be-all and end-all to standing in front of people to give a presentation. There are techniques that I’ve used throughout the years to build my confidence and give me the wings to take the stage. So what did I do? I got to work.
- You’re Not Alone. Realize that 90% of the population hashave a fear of public speaking. When I started doing research on what I could do to ease my anxiety, it was refreshing to find out I wasn’t crazy to feel what I was feeling. The crazy knot in the stomach, cotton mouth, and shortness of breath are common signs of stage fright, and it’s our bodies reacting to a very uncomfortable situation. The fear of failing in front of people isn’t just mine; it’s the majority’s as well. Knowing that I wasn’t alone made me feel better. And now I have incredible empathy for those that go through it.
- Get Real With Your Purpose. Get clear as to why you’re going to speak in front of a crowd. It may be to get a promotion, ace a test, or even make the sale. Or maybe you want to motivate people with your message. Regardless, there’s something you’re seeking, and it should trump your fear. We’re all motivated by something, and when your heart is centered on getting results via the stage, I find that my fuel overcomes my fear. There’s no way you’re going to allow fear to be the only thing that prevents you from gaining the results you desire.
- Prepare & Prepare. There’s no such thing as over preparing. I like to practice what I’ll be presenting over and over again. I record myself, watch the recordings, make adjustments, and keep at it. You want to feel so comfortable with your speech that it becomes ingrained in your personality. And if anything unexpected happens, it’s ok because you’ve practiced and know your speed inside and out.
- Meditation. Meditation has been a lifesaver and helps me get centered no matter what’s going on. I used to think that it was impossible to shut my mind off because I have a million tabs opened at once, but little by little meditation helped me calm my fear and find my center in order to do the work. I would suggest giving it a try, and don’t worry if it’s out of your element. There are great apps out there for beginners that guide you through the process.
- Visualization. I love using visualization techniques. This helps me with my confidence in a huge way because it allows me to work the jitters. I like to go over my day and envision how my presentation or show will go. I get detailed with what I paint in my mind and envision exactly how I want things to go. This allows me to zoom out and gives me perspective regarding the situation at hand, and I find comfort knowing that no matter what happens it’s all going to be ok.
I hope you keep these tips in your pocket for when you need them. But most importantly, know that you’re not alone in dealing with stage fright. There are numerous things you can do to ease your anxiety. It’s empowering to know that only we can change this. It may not happen overnight, but if you do the work, you will see the change you’re looking for and your confidence will soar. People need to hear what you stand for and what you have to say. Empower yourself by working on your stage fright.