"Amber has a major presentation tomorrow which could get her a massive promotion at work. She still has a week till the presentation but she's already so scared! She worries about everything that could go wrong. What if everyone laughs? What if she forgets her notes? At this point, Amber would rather die than give that presentation."
It's no easy feat to get in front of a group of people and speak or perform eloquently. In fact, public speaking is a major fear for a lot of people, surpassing things like ill health, loss of financial stability, and even death!
But even though you hate it, you will probably have to speak to a group of people, whether small or big at one point in time.
Here's how to make the experience a good one:
Prepare in advance: if you have stage fright, you shouldn't leave anything to chance. Make sure you have studied your topic extensively and you can answer most simple questions about it. Have a little notebook with your key points to help you remember anything you might forget.
Practice your posture several times a day, preferably in front of a mirror. Your posture conveys if you are feeling confident, anxious, indifferent, or scared. Good posture can convince your brain that you are more confident than you are feeling.
Try to stand up straight, straighten your neck, and relax your arms.
Laugh: laughter stimulates the production of hormones known as endorphins. Endorphins are also known as feel good hormones, they neutralize pain to an extent, counter feelings of anxiety, and are produced by activities like exercising or laughing.
Counteract stage fright by watching or listening to something funny before you go on stage. Talk to a friend. Watch funny YouTube videos. Play with a baby.
Control your breathing: when you are nervous, scared, or excited, the way you breathe changes. If you experience stage fright, you go into fight or flight mode when you step on stage. As a result, your heart races and you find yourself breathing hard.
Take deep and even breaths to convince your body that you are not in danger. It helps to create a rhythm such as inhaling and holding your breath for 5 seconds, then exhaling. Repeat until you feel more grounded.
Move: getting on stage can be very stressful for people with stage fright. Stress triggers the release of hormones that make you want to fight the threat or flee the scene. Research has shown that standing in one spot can increase the stress and pressure you are feeling. So, move! Take a few steps in either direction, move around the podium, use gestures, and gesticulate. Moving can make your body language appear more powerful and confident. But don't flail around, use short, purposeful movements.
Involve the audience: you are ready to take the stage but one look at the audience, and all you see is a sea of silent, judgmental faces ready to laugh at your smallest mistake. Thoughts like this can sabotage your presentation before you even start. Create a friendly aura by using icebreakers such as jokes to make the atmosphere lively. You can ask questions, encourage people to sing along, clap along to the beat, or join in a chant.
Stage fright is a common fear experienced by millions of people around the world. Some people would rather go to prison than take the stage! But you don't have to live in fear of public speaking or performing, with constant practice of the tips above, you will be excellent at it very soon.