10 Effective Ways For Getting Rid Of Stage Fright
You know what I think is the most frightening statistic in the world? It’s the one regarding stage fright. It goes something like this: more people are afraid of public speaking than death itself. And no, I’m not making this up.
But that’s crazy! You say. I agree, but it’s true. And even experienced speakers get the jitterbugs now and then. However, I have some good news for you. You can overcome your fear of public speaking. With these few tips I’m about to share, you’ll find yourself overcoming stage fright in no time. And what’s better, none of the following is going to involve picturing your audience in unfavourable circumstances!
Get your head in the right place
First up - the hard truth. This might sound rough but understand that’s it’s not all about you! Speech anxiety is unpleasant enough that you may focus on how awful you’re feeling instead of what really matters: the response of your audience. Get down on their level and try to gain some perspective on what they expect to learn from your presentation. This way u get to ensure that you and your audience are tuned to the same frequency.
As with anything public speaking related (or any other skill, really), it’s important to be prepared. And I mean prepared. Know your stuff, your speech, your audience, your blood type, your sister’s best friend’s hobbies. I’m kidding. Sort of. By understanding your topic to the core, you earn yourself the gift of confidence and, thus, the chance to eliminate or at least lessen your fear.
Breathe, actually Breathe
Modern life with all its gadgets and digital assistants makes it easy for you to becoming a “talking head," which includes breathing shallowly and rapidly. The fight or flight response to any kind of fear exacerbates this type of respiration cycle. To counter these habits, learn how to breathe diaphragmatically. Breathe deep, using your stomach to help you. Not only does it enhances your voice to become much more resonant; but it also calms you and slows your heart rate.
Stand up straight
Your teacher was right after all. Posture matters in terms of both your confidence and whether you look like a leader. For a short experiment, try hunching your shoulders slightly, notice how your confidence takes a hit. Now stand straight and allow your chest to be slightly raised and notice your shoulders drop into their natural position. This is an easy way to boost your confidence, both in looks and in attitude.
Filter your mind
With a healthy dose of willpower, you can train your mind to not think about a specific thought. When we rehash negative thoughts over and over in our heads (also known as rumination), it can be unpleasant and counterproductive. If you think constantly of failure, you can’t expect your confidence to stay at all high levels. Refuse to dwell on thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence, and instead refocus your mind on the potential positive outcomes of your presentation.
See it and believe it
Related to the previous tip, Instead of negative thoughts, visualize yourself giving the perfect presentation peppered with confidence, warmth, humour, and intelligence. Imagine the audience on their feet, applauding your magnificent speaking skills. It doesn’t matter that, realistically, it might not happen. Because the more you imagine something great, the more likely you are to actually achieve greatness.
Connect with your audience
You and your audience are on the same wavelength now. That’s great. But what’s even better is if the audience also share a sense of friendship with you. One of the most effective ways to feel like you have a relationship with an audience (and therefore feel less anxious) is to smile. You can smile when walking onto the stage and all throughout your speech. If you start strong, and let your audience know that you enjoy being there. Make friends instead of enemies.
Converse, not present
Modern day speeches are getting more conversational than ever. There is audience interaction and the style of delivery which has vastly evolved from times of the past. You see, your speech nerves come partly from the thought that you’re there to deliver a speech. In reality, you’ll actually just be talking to some people. Think of it as a conversation where you talk, instead of deliver. I’ll bet this sounds much more enjoyable.
The Spotlight Trick
Speaking in public can feel very isolated, alone in a huge spotlight where every move you make is vividly clear to audiences. So, in your mind, turn the spotlight around. Now you’re in the safe dark and the glare of the spotlight is on the audience. It seems small, but this actually does wonders for your confidence. Try it for yourself!
Keep your body healthy
The undisputed no-brainer of this list. You want to be sharp and focused, not numb or blur. Breathe deep, stretch, wear something that makes you feel like a million ringgit. Eat smart: no sugar or large, heavy meals that can cause fatigue. In fact, it’s best to go into a speech with very little in the stomach in order to avoid an upset stomach or, worse, food stuck in the teeth.
By following these steps – coupled with some determination and willpower, you will be able develop an empowering belief and trust in yourself. In facing your fear, it becomes possible to overcome stage fright (performance anxiety) and find comfort and ease in expressing yourself in front of others.