In a previous article I mentioned how the fear of public speaking for most people is greater than the fear of death. In fact, this fear is so great that some people would rather be the dead body than the eulogizer at the funeral. If you share this sentiment then read on for some practical advice on how to overcome stage fright.
The Secret Lies in Confidence
Stage fright is common for most people. In fact, it is not so much that public speaking is the number one fear that people have, but making a fool of oneself in front of others. Most people think they need to be an expert or a professional before they can successfully give a public talk, but in reality, the best way of overcoming the fear and insecurities linked with public speaking is to be confident in what it is you have to say.
Remember from the article on picking your perfect topic that it is important to know what you are good at and in what areas you have expertise. When you speak on a topic you know, it will show. Other students in a class may judge the student in the front row that always raises his hand and asks many questions as being dumb. However, that student is making an effort to know and understand the content being taught in class. He will have absorbed that knowledge until it becomes part of who they are.
Look at your own life and ask yourself what is it that you have absorbed and understood? What are you good at or an expert in, so that if somebody asked you questions on that topic, you could have an easy flow of conversation and share your knowledge just off the top of your head without needing notes. Picking a great topic is of prime importance because it makes it easy for you to get started and less focused on your anxieties of how your speech will go. The natural confidence you have in your ability in that realm of knowledge comes into play.
Hand in hand with confidence are three extra strategies: practice, practice, practice. Practice your speech, practice your talk, practice your training, practice it in your head over and over and over again. Set up a video camera and film yourself giving the talk, giving the workshop. Then, watch it back and see how you did, not with a critical eye but a view to looking for constructive ways you can improve your presentation and do it differently next time.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to be overly critical of yourself and tell yourself, “Oh that’s terrible; it’s awful.” Resist that temptation and instead focus on the positive aspects of what you did right and what you can improve next time. This will help you grow in your speaking skills. Moreover, remember to just practice and practice and practice.
Nerves Have a Place
Also remember even the most experienced and professional public speakers get butterflies or nerves before they talk. If you don’t get butterflies, then maybe you are not putting yourself out there and giving your best. It is okay to have a little bit of the flutters before you step out in front of your audience to give your talk. To be honest it is a positive sign that you are focused. If those nerves are missing and you feel completely calm, if there is no sense of risk involved, then perhaps you are not really focused. Maybe you are missing that connection or passion for your topic that is vital to your speaking success.
Stay tuned for more tips on overcoming stage fright!