Are you scared of performing in public? Have you experienced any of these: shaky voice/stammering, rhythmic shaking of the hands, arms, head, legs, or torso, chills, sweating, and mimic spasms, stomach upset, nausea, altered vision, fast heartbeat and headache when presenting on or off stage? Adrenaline, a hormone released into the bloodstream during stress, takes effect during stage fright.
I had stage fright while growing up, but I overcame it by working on myself and following the five ways to overcome stage fright discussed in this article.
What is stage fright?
Stage Fright is a state of being nervous when presenting a function on or off a stage. It can be experienced when presenting before someone superior to you, such as a boss, employer, or lecturer.
It is normal to feel nervous when performing a new skill, you have not understood very well to your tutors, answering a question in class, defending a new project before your supervisor, singing a new song you have not properly practiced to an audience, meeting new people, undergoing a job interview, addressing a large crowd as a beginner, or presenting a speech to a large crowd.
Reasons for this stage fright are that you are ruminating on what others or how your superior might think of you, feeling inferior, the size of the crowd, being afraid to disappoint the audience, who expect a lot from you as a presenter/performer, disapproval of the audience, and embarking on difficult tasks.
In a research work titled “Stage Fright: Its Experiences as a Problem and Coping with It”, a considerable percentage of the surveyed students desired help and support as they perceived stage fright as a problem that has negative career consequences.
No matter the reason, below are 5 ways to overcome stage fright:
1. Be Yourself
Being yourself means doing what you like without fear or panic. One’s environment contributes to how one thinks of himself.
Working on yourself by understanding your temperament and choosing your own environment will go a long way in enhancing self-confidence and self-control when performing on or off stage.
‘ Don’t worry about what people say or what people think. Be yourself’ – Brett Hall
One of the ways to overcome stage fright is respecting yourself, accepting your personality, and doing things the way you feel is best. Other people’s views should not be your sleeping thoughts because you can neither control them nor their thoughts.
“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create’ – Roy T. Bennett
It’s important to note that worrying about the opinions of the audience is a waste of time and might cause stage fright. What they think of you is just a reflection of them, not you. Try to understand yourself, which will in turn build your self-confidence.
Forgetting past failures and experiences on or off the stage will help you be yourself and overcome stage fright when performing. Everyone on earth is bound to make mistakes but remembering them can never help. And so, forget it.
‘Just enjoy every moment – don’t stress. Just be yourself.’ – Mabel
2. Be Acquainted With Your Presentation, Material, And Audience
This is the most crucial period because it’s the foundation and as such, much time must be dedicated to it and short-cuts must be avoided like a plague. It is one of the 5 ways to overcome stage fright.
Before presenting anything, spend quality time preparing and getting acquainted with the material. This will go a long way toward overcoming stage fright. Spending much time rehearsing your presentation will get you accustomed to it. Master the presentation in such a way that if you’re asked when you wake up, you will start pouring it out.
Having a full knowledge of the material to be presented places you above the audience or your superior, who has little or no knowledge of it. Then, fix your mind on adding value to your audience.
Good preparation will make you think carefully and extensively about the information you want to communicate in your presentation and this will also help you speak with boldness. It will also help you to be organized throughout the presentation, keeping your audience’s gaze on you.
Learning more about the audience or superior to whom you’ll be speaking will help you overcome stage fright. It’s a brilliant idea to obtain relevant information on the backgrounds, values, and interests of your audience/superior so that you will understand what they might expect from your presentation.
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” – Arthur Ashe
Before the event takes place, try to present your material before your friends or relatives, or even watch yourself practicing in front of a standing mirror. Speaking aloud to yourself or a friend during practice will give you a picture of what is ahead of you. You should be cognizant of the duration spent and your flow of speech, which can be adjusted.
Getting feedback and corrections from your practice audience will help you overcome stage fright. It gives you the opportunity to get used to expressing yourself confidently in front of others.
3. Be Optimistic About The Outcome
Developing an optimistic attitude prior to the presentation is one of the 5 ways to overcome stage fright.
“Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.” – Nicholas M. Butler
It is very important to acknowledge your anxiety and never allow your mind to picture failure, even though it’s an option. Visualize success and focus on what you can do to actualize your goal.
On D-Day, the exact time of appearing on or off stage, calmly walk gracefully into the podium with an optimistic mindset. Start the presentation with a confident posture and a beautiful smile.
While presenting, there might be feelings that make you think that your audience is against you, but always assure yourself that you’re more knowledgeable than them and that you’ll succeed. Using a powerful introduction will place you at a successful pace that you can maintain as you progress in your presentation.
4. Be Familiar With The Venue Or Class Settings
Another way to overcome stage fright is to learn about the centre or venue where your presentation will be carried out. This will enable you to visualize yourself presenting your speech and allow you to get a good picture of the arrangement ahead of time.
Ensuring that everything needed in the venue or class has been inspected and is working in order. This will make you more relaxed. You can make sure the equipment to be used (if needed), electrical appliances such as projectors, etc., acoustics, and seating setup are exactly the way you want them.
This knowledge will help you enhance your voice projection, make any necessary technical arrangements, and choose your movements before the presentation.
Arriving an hour or a few minutes before the actual time on the day of the presentation is very significant. This will enable you to be relaxed, comfortable, calm, and familiar with your environment and will contribute to your general confidence during the presentation. By arriving early and knowing your venue properly, you can sort all of this out before anyone else arrives.
5. Be Focused
“Focus on your goals, not your fears.” — Roy Bennett
Focusing on achieving the purpose of the presentation should be paramount to you and not your fears and doubts, if you want to overcome stage fright. Converting your fears into focus is a productive step to succeeding in your presentation.
“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson
By taking the focus away from yourself and your fear and shifting it toward how your presentation will positively impact your audience, you achieve purpose and meaning in life, and your stage fright disappears with time.
Focus on the objective and aim of the presentation during the presentation. Remind yourself that the audience needs your information, that’s why they are there.
While presenting, focus your attention on calming objects and cheerful faces within the venue. If you’re the shy type who finds it difficult to face people directly, look over the audience’s head so that you can deliver your presentation effectively.
Finally, fix your mind on performing excellently. You’ll discover that your body will act towards that mindset because that’s what you’re determined to get at the end. Nurture your thoughts to envision winning and not failure. If you’re able to imagine victory and overcome stage fright, then you’re sure to succeed.