We've all been there – we resort to calling in sick due to an upcoming speech or presentation. If I’m being totally honest, public speaking used to be my biggest enemy. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same is presently true for many others as well.
Stage fright is common, and some of us can attribute it to a social anxiety disorder or social phobia. The fear of public speaking can eat away at your confidence levels, and your self-esteem will take a huge toll on the way you live life. Many suffer in silent terror, but you should address your fear of the public speaking in order to be comfortable with yourself.
Try these 10 tips to reduce your stage fright:
- Shift the focus from yourself and your fear of public speaking to your true purpose. Always aim to complete your objective and share something of value to your audience. They'll appreciate that you're bringing value to them.
- Stop fearing for the worst and thinking of all the possible scenarios where things can go wrong. Instead, focus your attention on thoughts and images that are calming and reassuring, and you are in control of what happens on stage.
- Refuse to allow thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence.
- Try to stay calm and relax your mind and body with meditation, deep breathing techniques, relaxation exercises or yoga.
- Remember to exercise, eat well, and practice good lifestyle habits. Always try to caffeine, sugar, and alcohol intake to as minimal as possible.
- Keep visualising for your success. Focus on your strength and ability to handle challenging situations and how you are going to overcome them.
- Practise, practise and practise. Prepare your material in advance and read it aloud to hear your voice.
- Interact with your audience: Smile and greet people, make them laugh and treat them as friends rather than enemies.
- Stand upright in a confident manner. Remain warm and open and make eye contact.
- Strive for progress, not perfection.
Even with all these tips in hand, the truth is that being comfortable with public speaking will take some time. As such, you will need to put yourself in situations where you can adapt accordingly. That means taking the opportunity to practise your craft whenever possible. I know it sounds scary but in all honesty, you have nothing to fear. Once you get started, it’ll be over before you even know it!
No one’s asking you to be the valedictorian of your toastmaster’s club, but everyone should be proficient at talking in front of a bunch of people on some level. The important thing is that your progress at your own pace; it’s not a competition so there’s no need to rush. Go with baby steps if you need to – that’s what worked for me!