Learning To Handle Stage Fright
Stage fright is not a new term or phenomenon. It is as old as public speaking itself. At least four in every five people experience stage fright.
Even the most confident speakers sometimes get a bit jittery before going on stage and even while on it, but are so good at masking their fear, that you practically won’t suspect.
The knowledge of this begs the question, ‘what is the secret key to tackling stage fright, then?’
In plain truth, there is no secret key to killing stage fright. Stage fright comes as a result of our realization that we are about to be exposed to public scrutiny.
The public eye is on us, and any mistake we make would be picked by thousands of people. It might be a defining moment in our lives or career. It might be a presentation or revelation of everything we’ve been working for over the years. But relax.
While there is no secret key to permanently defeating stage fright, there are however some very useful tips that can help you calm your nerves while on stage and make you feel more comfortable, until you build confidence over time.
Tips to Help You with Stage Fright.
1. Stage Fright Is Not ”Your” Problem
The first step to overcoming stage fright is the realisation that stage fright is a general issue, and not just specifically yours.
When you climb that stage, know in your heart that a large majority of the audience would be scared to even come anywhere near that stage.
Be confident that the fact that you are standing there, on that stage, in front of hundreds of people, shows that you are already a conqueror. You’ve already done something that most people are afraid to. That is the first step to gaining confidence.
2. Come Prepared
There is nothing that builds confidence more than acknowledging to yourself, as a matter of fact, that you actually know what you are going to say on stage.
When you have done your homework by researching and rehearsing, you should be confident enough to at least step on the stage and stay there.
If you start speaking confidently and knowledgeably, members of the audience will give you a positive response and thus encourage you to go on. So, remember… Always come prepared.
3. Calming with Exercise
Calming your nerves has a significant influence on the outcome of any public performance. Take a light jog in the morning of your presentation or find solace in flexibility and concentration exercises like yoga and pilates.
Meditate and focus on resting every part of your body one after the other. Make ure you clear your mind and assure yourself that you are ready.
4. Fake Confidence
One sure way to gain confidence is to fake it. Even if you have so many fears and your legs are shaking like leaves, tell yourself that you are confident.
When you walk up that stage, walk with the confidence of your role-model presenter. You should also know that the best way to fake confidence is to smile.
Don’t laugh like a clown or force a smile. Just act natural.
You could look around for something that’s a bit funny or anything at all that can lighten your mood. A smile reassures the audience that you are confident and know what you are doing. Hence, they’ll be more co-operative.
All stage performances require rehearsals. If you are a music artiste, you should first perform to yourself in front of a mirror.
You could also place your phone on video recording and play it back to watch your performance. This way you can see first-hand what you need to improve on.
Make sure that you rehearse as if you are actually standing in front of an audience. Make it real. Using a voice recorder is very helpful, because you will be able to hear yourself speak.
Rehearsals are vital for any performance, and largely help in tackling stage fright. Since you already know that you have practiced all you are going to do, then it won’t be that hard to pull off a fantastic performance.
Socializing involves interaction with people. Before a performance, it is really helpful to meet people and talk with them.
Start by engaging your family members and neighbours in discussions on the big day. When you get to the venue, you should also interact with a few people.
This will ensure that your words come freer when you are on the stage. Remember, it is advisable that before any serious workout routine, you should go through preliminary stretches.
In this case, you are stretching your vo
cal cords and confidence. Talk with members of the audience (some most likely do not even know who you are). By doing this, you are telling yourself that the members of the audience are mere human beings, hence, you have no reason to fear them. When you climb that stage, all you have to do is continue the conversation; only more professionally.
7. Avoid Eye Contact
During a presentation, you should try as much as possible to avoid eye contact with members of the audience until you are completely comfortable with them.
Eye contacts can throw you off balance and deplete your confidence. Only make eye contact when you are sure that the audience is with you.
8. Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine before a performance does more harm than good. You might be tempted to take caffeine so that you can be alert and sharp, but it indirectly does the opposite.
It can seriously destroy your confidence. Some people take a little alcohol before they mount the stage. This is not a bad idea, but make sure its very little. It can give you short-term fake confidence for you to build on.
9. Move About
Never stand on a spot. Move about. It not only gives the audience a positive feel about you, it also helps you stretch your legs and reduce pressure. It equally helps in’ avoiding eye contact.
10. Don’t Test Your Audience
Unless you are a big name, one mistake you should never make is testing your audience. Asking questions and awaiting response, asking your audience to do something or wasting time on stage. Remember, you always want them on your side.
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