How To Control Stage Fright – Home > Blog > Speaking 101 > How to overcome your fear of public speaking in 8 steps
Throughout my years of experience in the speaking industry, I have learned a few things that I can personally relate to. An example is having to wear more than one hat when it comes to roles and responsibilities. However, the most surprising thing I learned is that many speakers start their careers by first overcoming their stage fright. In fact, for many performers, their on-stage personality is completely different from their off-stage presence! So, given this difference and how many speakers start their careers this way, let’s talk about this fear. If you’re reading this and thinking about a message you want to share but have stage fright, this guide on how to overcome your fear of public speaking is a great place to start.
How To Control Stage Fright
In this checklist, we will cover various tips and tricks that we, as a team, have discovered from our customers. From their experience, the most important thing to do is obviously practice. But what is the best way to practice? Besides repetition, what other techniques help to get rid of stage fright? Read on to find out. 👇
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Overall, fear of public speaking can be caused by many factors, social, neurological or experiential. The most common factors are natural stress mechanisms, better known as the “fight or flight” response. While this drive arises from a basic need to protect oneself from physical threats, it also arises during emotional or psychological stress. For this reason, when you feel uncomfortable around a group of people, for example, you may want to leave (this is emotional stress due to social pressure). Likewise, feeling shy or anxious in front of people is, at its core, your fight-or-flight response triggered by these feelings of stress.
Fear of public speaking may also increase depending on your personality, the severity of the situation you are speaking in, negative speaking experiences in your past, or even genetics. In fact, in most cases of the most extreme level of fear, or “glossophobia,” genetics is thought to play a dominant role in passing this fear down to the offspring, as can be seen in several generations in the same family. . In this case, symptoms usually include uncontrollable tremors, sweating, and a high heart rate.
Basically, the difference between glossophobia and the general fear of public speaking is the extent of this symptom. However, the cause of fear is the same, regardless of its severity: feeling stressed or uncomfortable.
The good news is that if you’re struggling to overcome your fear of public speaking, you’re not alone. Worldwide, more than 75% of people experience some degree of fear of public speaking. In fact, the fear of public speaking is often feared more than death itself. Crazy to think, right? Comedian Jerry Sienfeld also talked about it a bit in 1998, saying, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking.” Number two is death. Death is number two. This means that for the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in a casket than giving a eulogy. It still touches me every time… 😂
Stage Fright: Everything You Need To Know About It
Furthermore, of this 75%, only about 10% are classified as glossophobic. In other words, although the majority of people are afraid of public speaking, most cases are not serious. So if you’ve read the last part and started to worry that you’re glossophobic, rest assured, that’s probably not the case.
However, whether you suffer from glossophobia or not, there are a variety of treatments available if you’re trying to overcome your fear of public speaking. On the one hand, given the psychological nature of fear, one treatment option is to take antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. This is usually considered the most extreme treatment option and, therefore, is most often prescribed to glossophobic patients. On the other hand, if you’re on the less severe end of the public speaking fear spectrum, most treatments focus on training and exposure. Here, we’ll break down eight of these practice-related options. This way, even if you’re nervous right now, you can start where you feel comfortable. Then you can progress to exceptional speaking skills from there. 👍
For starters, if you’re really uncomfortable talking in front of other people, start with yourself! Take as much time as you need to carefully plan your presentation. Then start practicing alone in a space where you feel comfortable and confident. This could be your living room, your home office or a rented workspace. The goal is to remove the discomfort from your environment so that you can focus solely on your presentation and first gain confidence in the material itself.
Personally, as a high school student, I often used this tactic before solo presentations. At the time, I was very introverted and easily intimidated by the high-pressure, middle-class atmosphere. So even the thought of practicing for someone else makes me nauseous, let alone presenting. Fortunately, these days I am more confident when speaking in public. However, I always return to personal practice as a starting point, when preparing for a presentation. After all, if I can’t communicate with myself, I’m sure, as you know, I won’t be able to communicate effectively with people.
How To Overcome Stage Fright And Nerves For Presentations
Afraid of public speaking, start by focusing on yourself. If you first gain confidence in your speech and just read it, it will be easier when you have an audience. Plus, the more you practice your presentation content, the more it will feel like muscle memory. This way, even if you’re nervous on stage, the words will come naturally.
Once you’ve mastered your own material, the next step is to master it in front of your friends and family. Think of steps to overcome your fear of public speaking as an exercise program. If you want to start a running routine, you won’t immediately start with a marathon. When you first approach the weightlifting bench, you don’t think, “I bet I could bench 300 pounds right away.” Likewise, when conquering your nerves, start with something manageable and gradually push your limits from there.
This is where friends and family come in (that sounds like an insult, but you know what I mean!). Obviously, your friends and family are great support mechanisms for many reasons. However, when practicing your speaking skills with people you care about, it’s important to follow some basic rules. This way, they’re taken care of, they take the time to help you, and you know you’re getting good feedback.
In addition to practicing for other people, there are other ways to gain an audience’s perspective when you speak. I’m talking about recording. Depending on the tool you use, record your training session audio or video, if possible. This way, you will not only be able to spot errors in your wording or presentation. You may also notice movements or tics that you may not have known existed.
How Do You Overcome Stage Fright? 6 Tips To Help
My favorite example comes from comedian and journalist Charlie Berens. A native of Wisconsin, Berens mentioned in a 2019 stand-up video that when he first got into broadcast journalism, he didn’t understand the extent of his Midwestern accent. In fact, it wasn’t until he was asked to speak as part of a class assignment that it became very clear how stereotypical his accent was. In his words, his professor ended the presentation by saying, “Charlie, has anyone ever told you that you have a voice for print media? Granted, this may sound harsh, but, as a Minnesotan who is writing this with no intention of going on stage, I know this accent well. 😅
Likewise, whether you know it or not, there are almost certainly things you do on stage that distract your audience from your message. On the other hand, there are also things you may not even realize you’re doing right! Maybe you have good posture or a beautiful voice. Maybe you have an incredible vocabulary and your education is evident in the structure of your speech. Either way, whatever your successes and failures, being able to see it from the audience’s perspective is key to correcting the bad and highlighting the good.
In addition to focusing on what you can do personally to overcome your fear of public speaking, remember that you can always ask for help. As mentioned at the beginning, many speakers are afraid of public speaking before their speaking business starts. Besides, for many successful speakers today, their stage presence is just that: a facade. Although they are used to speaking in front of others, they are naturally introverted. So when they are not required to socialize or attend, they prefer to attend.
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