by Tracy Brinkmann
Even top performers get stage fright, so the fact that the rest of us have the jitters before getting behind the podium is not surprising. Though you'll probably never fully rid yourself of stage fright, these tips can help you tame it.
First lets set the record straight. It should really be called 'before getting on stage fright.' At least for me all - ok well most - of my fears hit before I get on the stage. Once I'm up on stage BOOM I'm in the zone and you can be too. Stage fright is that wonderful feeling of nervousness that occurs when you consider, or know your going to have to partake in, a speaking event.
Let me give you a couple tips on how to handle stage fright. Mind you I did not say get rid of it. For any speaker that states they have zero stage fright is either lying or in denial. Top performers in the world get stage fright so know that you're in good company.
Tips for taming the beast
Think of stage fright in a positive manner. Fear can either enable you or disable you. Letting it enable you will make your wits and reflexes sharper. Fear as a friend will boost your energy level, put a gleam in your eye and even some color in your cheeks. I have found that when I'm nervous I am more consciously aware of my pacing, posture and breathing. This allows me be more in control of my body, enhancing my presentation.
Before you're on stage doodle, draw things you'd like to have (I draw my dream Harley!). Review your notes. Yawn - yes yawn - this relaxes your throat. Try and find other things going on during the meeting/event that you can work into your presentation. Double check the equipment you'll be using. Talk to other people (this way you know your voice is ready to go). Double check how you look in a mirror. All this will engage your mind in more productive thinking and away from those on stage nightmares it'll come up with if you let it.
On Stage, keep notes in your pocket. This will prompt your brain to remember your material (I already know your practiced a lot so I won't remind you of that.) If your notes are in your hand while your nervous the audience could see them shake and you'll most likely use them simply out of that nervousness. Make eye contact with your audience, especially those warm and friendly faces. Talk to that one person for a moment, and you won't feel so alone and isolated. Never mention your nervousness, and I bet no one else will either.
Know that you can gain control of your stage fright. That control can become a powerful ally to you on stage. No one has ever died of stage fright so I'm sure you'll be quite safe if you've practiced, practiced, practiced. Because being well prepared will be the greatest thing you can do to overcome stage fright. But feel free to try these other suggestions as well.
Tracy Brinkmann & Assoc.