WHAT IS STAGE FRIGHT AND HOW CAN IT BE OVERCOME
I am standing on a pedestal,
It’s a big day,
People are watching.
Their hungry eyes waiting to devour me.
My feet are frozen and my palms all cold.
My mouth is dry and my heart,
Pounding like a muffled drum in my chest.
My ears are hot and my face is flushed,
Heading my trembling legs forward,
I stand up.
I wish it is a nightmare,
And somebody could wake me up.
Stage fright is a very common experience for a lot of performers and public speakers while addressing a large audience. It is also called performance anxiety.
Reading the above verse, we get a feeling that the language that has been used contains the theme of execution and fear. If we had not known the context in which these words have been spoken, we would have probably thought of these lines as having been said by a person who is being taken for a public execution!
This is something most of us have experienced at least once in our lifetime and we know how it can come in the way of our self-development. So what can we do to battle our fear and shine with confidence?
Here are a few steps to beat the fear of public speaking:
1. Relax the body
To perform and speak well, we need to calm down. We have to ease out and rehearse our lines. Even if you forget our lines, we need not panic, and unless it’s a major goof-up, make it seem like the part of the act or speech. Few things to do to relax are:
a) Search for voice exercises on the internet, these prevent your mouth from drying and also help you calm down.
b) Stretch your arms and legs. This will uplift your confidence and make you feel positive.
c) Fake it till you make it, a mantra to follow until you reach your goal until then just practice to be who you want to be.
d) Eat a banana before you get on stage, it will prevent you from feeling nauseous and empty.
2. Do not forcibly fight the anxiety
Refrain from fighting away the nervousness, it needs to be accepted. By fighting our anxiety, we will end up thinking about getting nervous which will eventually make things even worse! So we need to calm ourselves down and focus only on that. It might sound too simple, but we have to think of happy, positive and empowering thoughts before our turn to speak. It really works!
3. Get to the venue early
By reaching the venue early, we feel very much in control of the situation compared to when reaching the venue after it’s already full. This gives us a chance to get comfortable in our surroundings and gives our mind time to adjust to it. It’s very important to reach early so that we do not add to our nervousness, if any.
4. Practice makes perfect
We need to keep rehearsing and focus on giving a good speech (rather than imagining 100 different embarrassing scenarios like : what if we forget the speech, what if people laugh at us etc. Practicing again and again not only helps us know the subject matter in detail but also helps us get used to speaking continuously for the duration of the talk.
If we think of it long and hard enough, it will happen. Think of success: think of giving a good speech and chances are we will make it happen (It’s definitely better than visualizing the audience booing!!). So let’s put work on the substance, work hard and we will definitely make a good impression.
Nobody expects a speaker to be perfect. What people expect is a genuine effort to explain the subject and an intention to connect with the audience rather than giving a sermon. If we respect the audience by researching and giving our 100%, the audience surely will appreciate the effort.
Let’s always remember that public speaking is an art: we start small, practice and we make it work. If we wish to become really good speakers, we need to grab every opportunity to be on stage, make mistakes and avoid those mistakes the next time we’re on stage.
So let’s get on stage, address an audience, make mistakes and master the art of public speaking and never, ever lose faith in our ability.