We’d all like to become better public speakers. However, that’s simply not going to happen if we are too afraid to get up there and give our speech. Even if we can get on stage, no matter how good our audience’s listening skills are, we may be constantly battling our fears and it’s going to take away from the speech that we give. How can a speaker overcome stage fright?
It Turns Out That Stage Fright Is Normal
I know that the first time that I encountered stage fright I was both surprised and alarmed. What was going on? I had never felt so afraid about doing something that I knew that I had to do. Presentation tips were not going to solve this problem for me.
It turns out that stage fright is actually a very natural human emotion. What’s going on is that we are reaching way back in time and drawing on the very skills that kept our caveman ancestors alive: fight or flight.
I think that we can all agree that giving a speech to an audience of 1 – 1,000 people can be classified as a threating situation. When faced with a situation like this, you will become fearful and that fight or flight mechanism will kick in and you’ll be dealing with a case of stage fright. However, due to the importance of public speaking, you are going to have to find a way to get over it.
What you need to do is to accept how you feel. Don’t fight it. It is, after all, a very natural reaction to the situation that you find yourself in. Instead of focusing on how you are currently feeling, shift your focus to the task at hand. This won’t make your stage fright go away, but will make it easier to deal with.
Channel Your Creativity
When you know that you’ll be dealing with stage fright, you often start to get creative. This is not always a good thing.
Speakers have been known to do a wide variety of different physical activities in order to attempt to deal with the stage fright that they are experiencing. This can include making their legs rigid or tightening up their chest.
It turns out that these are exactly the wrong things to be doing. They are going to have an obvious impact on how you deliver your speech – you are going to sound different because of all of the things that you are trying to do at the same time.
Instead of trying any of these tricks that are just going to have a negative impact on the speech that you end up giving, instead channel your creativity. Stage fright generates energy. Nervous energy that is. Harness this energy and use it to create a better speech. Pour yourself into creating a speech that uses all of your energy and create a speech that is going to use that energy to both grab and hold your audience’s attention.
What All Of This Means For You
Stage fright is a natural part of life for public speakers – get over it. Going all the way back to when cavemen were walking around, we’ve always had a fight or flight reaction to threating situations.
We should not try to fight our stage fright sensations. They truly are a natural part of who we are. Accept how you are feeling and move on and don’t let it impact the benefits of public speaking that you are delivering. Take the nervous energy that stage fright causes and channel it into creating an even better speech for your audience.
There is an old saying that if you don’t feel fear, then you’re not alive. In thinking about your next speaking opportunity I suspect that you are very much aware that you are alive – that’s some real fear that you are feeling! Stop trying to fight it and use it to make better speeches and you’ll have found a way to conquer your stage fright!
Question For You: How can you use your stage fright to deliver a better speech while you are on stage?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Talk about great speeches! I’m going to assume that you already know about the world famous TED talks: it’s where people are invited to come and give an 18 minute speech about something that has to do with Technology, Entertainment, or Design (i.e. TED). TED conferences remind us about the importance of public speaking. The audience is made up of very successful and powerful people and the right speech, delivered the right way, could just very possibly end up changing the world.