Fear is quite natural. It is a biological way for our bodies to tell us that something is not right. Almost all of us have fear of something or other in life. The irony is that humans are actually born with only two fears – the fear of falling and the fear of sudden sounds. So, where did all the other fears come from? All these fears have been the product of some prior experience, people’s feedback, or our imagination. After the two natural fears, the single most common fear across the entire globe is: stage fright!
Let me share a story of the American comedian, actor, writer, and producer Jerry Seinfeld. He has been part of many Hollywood movies, comic shows, and blockbuster TV shows. Along with his fellow comedian Larry David, Jerry developed the sitcom Seinfeld for NBC. The show ran for 9 seasons and was the highest-rated show in the United States.
You certainly need to be the master of the stage to become even 10% of what Jerry is. The hilarious part is when for the very first time Jerry Seinfeld got on stage, he FROZE! He couldn’t move or utter even a single word for good 40-60 seconds. That is quite a lot of time for any speaker to get freeze up. He was booed off the stage. This is the nightmare that every speaker wants to avoid in life. Well, the good news is that this fear can be tamed with a strong desire to control it coupled with some action points.
- Up your Stage Time:
Like any other fear, the best way to kill stage fright is to go through it. Create mock stages before you go on the actual one. Practice and polish your delivery in front of family members, colleagues, or fellow speakers. It is all about making a lot of mistakes and throwing yourself into this uncomfortable zone to improvise. These initial attempts might not be flawless performances. But it will make you live with the butterflies in your stomach. (The underhand tip: make a lot of mistakes on your mock stage)
- Plant your Feet:
The secret to fight any fear is to have very positive body language. There will always be a temptation for a speaker to hide himself behind a podium, table, or even a marker. The real challenge is to stay in front, plant your feet on the stage, stick your chest out, and hold your head high. Even if the little voice inside you tells you that you’re not confident, you would appear as a speaker who is not afraid and is ready to take the bull by its horns. (The underhand tip: STAND LIKE A WINNER even if you lose!)
- Breathe In – Breathe Out:
Often time fear is the absence of enough oxygen in your body. Before the start, the deeper you go with your breath, the higher your performance will go on the stage. These deep breaths will help you calm your nerves and create a way to release the tension from your body. Deep breathing shifts your focus from negative to calmer thoughts. (The underhand tip: for the first 5 seconds on the stage just take some deep breaths)
- Visualize the Applause:
What you see in your mind is often what you get in life. During our Fire walking seminars, people who end up hurting themselves are often those who visualize a negative outcome even before they even take their first step. The positive visualizers often cross the fire bed with a sense of contentment and joy. Similarly, if you see people booing you offstage, you will be booed offstage. Without a doubt, first create success in the mind. (The underhand tip: see yourself delivering an awesome presentation beforehand)
- Put On a Show:
Don’t just give a presentation, put on a show! Think about it, are you getting the stage just to share data, numbers, and figures? This is an opportunity to create a great stage show. A boring opening has the power to kill your audience in the first 20 seconds, which would then drain your confidence. So, next time start your presentation with a well-rehearsed compelling story that is well connected with your topic. This will strengthen your show and make your delivery a bit easier. (The underhand tip: start with a story and have your audience spellbound)
Hope you put on an awesome show next time. Good Luck!