Sweaty palms. Heart palpitations. Knees knocking. We all know the signs of stage fright.
And no matter how experienced you are at public speaking, stage fright happens to everyone. Instead of trying to ignore it, embrace it and get to know your own personal signs of stage fright.
Accept anxiety as a positive sign that your body is saying that all systems are ready to go.
But many speakers succumb to stage fright. Some common reactions:
“I’m going to faint”
“Why did I agree to do this?”
“They’ll find out I don’t know as much as they think I do”
“I’m not prepared”
— and on and on.
You’ve got to break that litany of negative thinking. Instead, say to yourself: “I’m glad that I’m here and I’m ready to go.” This applies whether you’re making a presentation or doing a media interview.
Try These Techniques
People decide in the first three to seven seconds if they’re going to listen to what you have to say. So you’ve got to grab them right out of the gate. These techniques will help you to get over stage fright and engage your audience from the second you start talking.
- Think positively. I’m here for a reason – people want to hear what I have to say. I’m an authority with a lot to add to this topic. I’m going to go for it.
- Use movement. Gestures put your nervous energy to work to get the audience engaged your side. Your feet aren’t nailed to the ground. Move. Positive energy supports rather than detracts from your effort. It’s no different than if you were a swimmer or sprinter. This is an important race. Forget about how nervous you are. Push off with a gesture and a smile.
- Rehearse. But don’t over-rehearse so that you come across as flat. The most important parts of a presentation or interview are the opening and close. Practice walking up to the podium. Be ready with your “grabber” that will immediately get the audience wanting to hear more. A favorite example is an Avon sales manager who began a discussion on recruitment by saying, “I’m what you might call a professional street walker.” It drew a round of appreciative laughter from fellow sales professionals who pound the pavement.
- Keep your close short. Recap what you said to ensure your audience retains your key messages. Then stop and invite questions.
The next time you have a presentation or interview with a reporter, remember this: you are the expert. Take a deep breath, think positive thoughts and use a grabber to launch into the presentation or interview.