15 Quick Tips for Fighting Stage Fright

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    cheersSince public speaking is apparently the most common fear people name when asked, there is a good chance you have experienced it at one time or another. If you have, you know how uncomfortable and unsettling it can be. Don’t just endure it; fight back. Here are fifteen ways to fight stage fright so you can look, sound and feel more confident when you speak.

    1. Self-consciousness the problem? Connect with the audience. Find common ground. Forget about being perfect; just speak your mind.
    2. An easy way to change jitters to power: slowly breathe out…in…out. Do this before speaking and anytime you get nervous or jittery.
    3. A practical way to reduce anxiety is to get into your meeting room early. Set everything up. Then greet and chat with each person as they arrive.
    4. To manage panicky feelings, notice–and change–your thoughts. Our inner dialog often goes along these lines: “I feel nervous, I am not good at presenting, what if I mess up?” Change the thoughts to ones like this: “I am excited, I feel great, I can’t wait to get started.”
    5. Notice where your thoughts impact your body: it it in your stomach? your chest? your throat? weak knees? shaky hands? Discover where the tension lives, be aware of it, and then let it go.
    6. Let out some of the tension by breathing slowly and deeply. Take a walk in the fresh air. Swing your arms. Check for tension in your shoulders. Shrug and release it.
    7. To build confidence over time, select one to three actions you can take. For example, breathing, using a positive affirmation, or rehearsing out loud. Focus on these concrete actions before each presentation.
    8. Undermining yourself? Create a power affirmation that reminds you how calm, confident and powerful you are as a speaker. Keep repeating it.
    9. Feeling scared? Remind yourself it is actually a surge of power you are experiencing. This puts you in a position of strength. Really!
    10. Is the fear showing up in your delivery? In order to appear confident–even if you aren’t–stand tall with your hands open and relaxed. Breathe. Smile.
    11. Mind racing? Remember your purpose. If you keep your focus on the importance of your content and its significance, you can often forget about yourself and your worries.
    12. Disconnected? Appear confident by focusing on steady, direct eye contact. Make it a habit to look each person, one at a time, and don’t scan or dart. It can help to look at eyebrows instead of into people’s eyes. When you connect you feel more in control.
    13. Speaking too fast? Sound confident by pausing appropriately. Do this before you begin, after you make a point, or between slides. Don’t rush.
    14. Voice sounding weak? Sound confident by speaking with a clear, full voice. You will sound more confident and focusing on voice production can distract you from nervousness.
    15. Out of control? If you feel jittery, take care not to dance around too much on your feet. Use your energy appropriately by moving from one part of the room to another deliberately, then plant your feet for a moment.


    Author Gail Zack Anderson, founder of Applause, Inc. is a Twin Cities-based consultant who provides coaching and workshops for effective presentations, facilitation skills for trainers and subject matter experts, and positive communication skills for everyone. She can be reached at gza@applauseinc.net.

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