It’s time to get on stage to speak. Your heart starts to pound and your hands are sweaty as you inch towards the stage. You wonder if you will pass out. You start wondering if time can fast forward so that you would have already finished presenting to your audience. The thought of having an invigorating and charismatic speech become a distant memory as you face the reality of speaking in front of your audience. You start questioning as to whether you should have even been chosen to present.
What do you do? How do you stop the stage fright?
- Know who you are and own it. Confidence in speaking comes from confidence within you. It doesn’t matter how your look or act. You are you and you should embrace all of your special qualities. No one is perfect, but you are perfect for yourself. Does it matter that you have a pimple everyone can see? Not really. People are there to hear what you have to say. If you are happy with yourself, the speech will flow effortlessly from your mouth.
- Be prepared. Another way to feel confident on stage is to be prepared. Reading the speech over and over again will not only help you memorize it so that it does not sound scripted, but it will also help you gain confidence on stage.
- You hear this one over and over again, but it really is true: find a point in your audience and talk to it. Whether this is the foreheads of the audience or a point on the wall ahead of you. If I stare at people’s eyes in my audience, I lose focus. Imagine staring at someone texting in the audience. I almost want to go sit next to them and start texting myself! I make a point of looking at people’s foreheads when I speak; otherwise, I am too easily distracted. I can always look at their eyes when I field for questions.
- Have fun. Someone picked you to speak because they know you are very good at what you do. You should be proud of that and should embrace every moment on stage. It does not matter whether or not you are a great speaker. You were chosen because someone knows you are great in the topic you are discussing. If you end up getting nervous on stage, crack a joke about it. It will not only make you feel better, but it will also help you break the ice and relax on stage.
Speaking can be a lot of fun, but no one ever starts off with perfection. It takes years and years of practice to speak comfortably in public. You just have to keep challenging yourself by taking up more opportunities to speak in public. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will feel. Think of public speaking as an art… it only gets better with time.