Overcoming Stage Fright: Three Steps To Become A Better Speaker On Stage
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Stage fright has gotten a bad name. Anxiety, fear, and dread should be our normal reactions to standing up on stage in front of a group of people, as it goes back to what scientists believe would be the caveman equivalent of standing in front of a predator about to be eaten. So, why do we now use these emotions to stop us from creating incredible connections with an audience or sharing our inspirational experiences, or wondering how we may be judged in front of our peers?
I’ve put together a three-step method to go from being someone with stage fright to a thriving speaker instead, which has been so helpful with my clients at Nudge, and will hopefully be immensely beneficial for you too.
1. Take back the power Fearing our audience, feeling like we’ll be judged and being nervous about what might happen in the spotlight are all ways our body and mind try to stop us doing something it thinks, will be potentially dangerous for us. And that is usually great, our bodies and minds can do amazing things; but in this case, it’s reverting to the caveman days of thinking. Instead of fearing your audience and feeling like they 'll judge you, take a second to put a bit more trust and belief that they are there to listen to you and are your biggest supporters. I always tell my clients that you wouldn’t want a speaker to underestimate and just assume you’re a bad person if you were sitting in the audience, would you?
As for something potentially going wrong, rehearsing enables us to control 99% of what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to create a lasting connection with your audience. As for that 1%, you’ll deal with it. A stage manager will sort the tech issues; you won’t forget what you’re going to say because you would have rehearsed, and taken the time to craft a speech that leads naturally from one idea to the next. Finally, you will settle into being in the spotlight once your body realizes you aren’t in danger.
2. You are the expert You’re on stage for a reason, remember that. From discussing success in your last financial year, or pitching your business to a new client, you’re talking about knowledge, experiences, and emotions only you have felt. Remember that no one else shares the same experiences as you do, so you’re the only person that can tell your story. You are an expert in whatever subject you are speaking about– be it personal, professional or opinions on events, and you owe it to the world to share your knowledge and experiences; they’re unique to you! So, give yourself a pep talk with motivational quotes or speeches from someone you admire, and realize that far from feeling like an imposter, you deserve the spotlight and your audience needs to hear from you.
3. Create a game plan We don’t just go out and run a marathon without training first so why do we insist on just winning it on stage? I use my Nudge Mosaics (a business canvas-like tool that aids communication planning) when I’m crafting a communication plan with my clients to cover the big areas we need to keep in mind, and ideas to focus on. From understanding your audience and what they want to hear and what questions they might need answering through to statistics, key names to mention, and even writing down numbers in their full form, so you don’t get confused with zeros, the phonetics to pronounce names, and titles that people have.