Public speaking is said to be the biggest fear reported by many adults, topping flying, financial ruin, sickness, and even death.
Your breath speeds up, your pulse races. Your throat tightens as your palms sweat. You feel sick to your stomach, and when you speak, your hands and knees shake along with your voice.
These are common symptoms of stage fright, also known as performance anxiety. Millions of people experience the involuntary response when they’re faced with delivering a presentation or performing in front of others. This assumption of being judged arises from the spotlight effect -- the belief that people are paying more attention (especially negative attention) to you than they truly are. It’s an evolutionary holdover of the “fight or flight” response. In this case, your body perceives actual danger from becoming the focus of others' attention.
Stage fright is normal, but that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s not harmful. Performance anxiety can affect your career and personal life. It can diminish your self-confidence and hold you back from performing and your full potential. If you are prone to stage fright, take control over it before it controls it. There are numerous ways of controlling the stage fright, here are few:
Play with your mind
Our mind is a foolish, it believes, what you want it to believe. There are two proven ways to play with your mind
Pretend: Pretend that your anxiety is actually excitement. This is more effective than telling yourself to calm down. Telling yourself to settle down when you’re pumped full of adrenaline is an act of repression -- it gives those feelings nowhere to go. In contrast, recasting your nervousness as excitement creates a framework to manage your emotions.
Divert: Divert your mind to something hilarious. This idea came to me watching my wife calm down my son’s nerve. My son is a 6 year old who is trying his hand on singing. Before his first stage performance in from of a ~100 audience, he was nervous, fearing he will surely forget the lines and will mesh up. My wife just went up and asked him did he remembered the hilarious Bollywood song. He started smiling. And for the three minutes before the performance they were just talking about that song, which didn’t had any relation to the classical music he was about to deliver. He went to the stage smiling and performed flawless. That day I understood the idea of mind diversion. Divert your mind to some needless hilarious thing.
Worry about the first five minutes -- and that's it.
The first few minutes of a presentation are the most stressful. After that, you’re more likely to settle into your role at the front of the room. Remember to have a great opening. If you start your speech with confidence and certainty, the nerves will settle down. Moreover your audience with warm with you which will make you at ease. Here are some ideas for beginning a speech.
Focus and cut the noise out
Focusing on the material is one of your most important tools as a speaker who knows how to reach and engage audiences. But as human tendency we have a habit of wandering into off-the-grid thoughts, which affects our speaking ability and our confidence takes a hit. Learn not to engage these thoughts or resist them; instead, notice them and let them float away. Come back to your message and its reception.
You get what you visualise success. Visualise the successful outcome and cut out any negative thoughts. As you go up the stage visualise yourself coming down with the audience appreciating, this will only improve your confidence and calm down your nerves.