It happens to some degree to all of us at some point in time. Our heart starts racing and pumping blood around at a crazy pace, we get hot and sometimes sweaty and our mouth suddenly become like the Sahara desert. Most of our muscles tighten like a spring.
It is both a good and bad thing. Good as it puts us in a state of fight or flight in an emergency, but bad because sometimes there is no emergency, only perceived threat and in these cases it can shut down normal behaviour and be uncontrollable.
As human beings we don’t often like being taken out of our comfort zones, but on certain occasions we will have to do so.
Situations in life like standing up in front of an audience and speaking or putting on a performance can seem daunting with 50-5,000 eyes staring up at us intently. There are however effective ways in which to deal with these types of situations and make it a whole lot easier.
A combined approach is best.
1. You must prepare your mind and body correctly and rehearse what you are going to say. Then review it by recording it and listening to it back. By putting the preparation in you immediately reduce the fear factor, as you will already be confident you know your stuff.
2. You could safe guard yourself by using prepared reminders or what I call triggers to high-light each section of your presentation. These could be slide images, or short dot points. These simple triggers set off your well rehearsed auto pilot program and the words will roll off your tongue.
3. You can rehearse the entire successful presentation prior to the event mentally as well as physically. You train for this outcome by visualising it in your head each night when you go to bed. This technique is a well documented and implemented success tool used by many elite athletes, speakers and singers. The subconscious mind cannot necessarily differentiate between reality and imagination. If you repeatedly run through the presentation and see the smiling audience giving you a standing ovation, your mind believes it has done it time and time again. For me I do this for every event I present at, as well as every event I orchestrate.
4. Develop your own relaxation rituals. This can be as simple as slow long deep breaths, shoulder rolls and jaw stretches. Some people listen to music on their ipods to either pump themselves up or calm and focus themselves.
5. Focus on the process entirely and don’t allow yourself to be distracted before or during your presentation. Silence any negative mind chatter in your head.
6. Remember that you are at a certain level of heightened awareness and energy is a good thing. Utilise it to your advantage.
7. The audience is on your side and your job is to help them. It is not about you, it is about helping them understand your point, idea and story. So give it 100% of your focus and effort and you will be much more confident. It does get easier with each occasion. It should not get diminished to the extent that you get blasé or complacent about your work that would be disrespectful to your audience.
If you want to master this on your own and deal with any stage fright issues then, it will take a lot of time and patience. On the other hand, if you use the services of a mentor who can guide you, and help you to properly prepare yourself for these type of tasks then, you will be fast tracking your route in controlling stage fright by using the proven techniques of a field professional. Getting someone who has been there and fully understands the obstacles and fears you may have and how to use the correct tools in order to rectify these type of issues, will enable you to save on countless hours of trying to master this task yourself.
Dealing with stage fright and overcoming your fears doesn’t have to be complicated, if you know the right direction to take. Like most things in life, it takes practise and with the right tools and information, you’ll have a new inner confidence that will excel the outer world and will allow you to put on the kind of performance that you always wanted.