Effective Public Speaking: Stage Fright

In the earlier article, we discussed Effective Public Speaking

What is stage fright?

Stage fright or performance anxiety is the anxiety, fear, or persistent phobia which may be aroused in an individual by the requirement to perform in front of an audience. Effective Public Speaking requires overcoming Stage Fright. With continued practice and performing public speeches, one can overcome stage fright.

You’re about to perform for the first time. Your knees are trembling, you feel like you’re going to throw up, and your heart is pounding in your chest. These are symptoms of stage fright, known scientifically as topophobia or more generally known as performance anxiety. Stage fright is a real phenomenon, affecting both new and seasoned performers, not only on stage but in a variety of performance venues.

Stage fright may increase due to lack of sleep the night before the performance or due to medications or alcohol. It’s always advisable to have a sound sleep before the performance day. If audience causes lots of distractions, ignore them. When you gain the full confidence you can look at your audience and deliver your speech. Look for friends in the audience and maintain eye contact with them. This will enhance your confidence.

It’s absolutely okay if you make few mistakes. The audience might not notice it. Don’t say sorry or get feared. Move on they want to listen to you.

Have positive visualization to be successful. For this visualize yourself as a confident person delivering a great speech in front of the audience. This will help in boosting your morale. Positive self-talk will help. Remain away from negative people. Think positive. Your mind will be programmed accordingly and you will conquer stage fright.

Deep breathing helps in calming your nerves.

Identify the stage fright –

1) Dry Mouth

2) Tight Throat

3) Sweaty Hands

4) Cold Hands

5) Shaky Hands

6) Nausea

7) Fast Pulse

8) Shaky Knees

9) Trembling Lips

Stage fright may be due to negative past experience.

Don’t drink caffeinated drinks.

Learn about the program. It helps, like giving a speech to students or presentation to an audience. The occasion is public gathering or seminar.

How to overcome stage fright?

Don’t let stage fright ruin your performance. You have worked hard and waited for this day, just don’t let this fear come in between you and your success as an effective public speaker. Remove your fears and face the audience with full zeal and confidence.

There are few things which can overcome stage fright –

Know the Place – It’s always better to visit the place few minutes in advance so that you are aware of the place. Become aware of the surroundings and talk to the concerned person if everything is ready. There may be last minute changes, be prepared.

Know the Audience – Know the age, Educational background and little profile about your audience. This will help you in crafting your speech in a good way. If you are going to address age group of 18 to 21 years, your speech should sound relevant to them and should not go above their head. They should be able to correlate with your speech and the teachings. The same is applicable for an older audience. Prepare your speech according to the audience not according to your own preference. Magic will happen.

Know your Subject – Have a thorough knowledge of your subject. If you need to speak on something where you lack knowledge, you need to increase your knowledge so that you don’t fear your audience. You can increase your knowledge by reading the newspaper, magazines ( Readers Digest ), news, books and online articles. Do full research on the topic you are going to speak. Knowing your subject will enhance your confidence.

Relaxation – Be fully relaxed before going for public speaking. It will calm down your nerves. you can remember motivating proverbs and do deep breathing exercises. Just calm down no one in the audience will be eating you up nor they can demotivate you. Take full charge move on. Remember “ Come what may I have to succeed “. Taking tension will make the situation graver and worse will happen. I hope you never worked hard just to fail and become a laughing stock.

Visualize giving your speech – Visualize yourself as a successful person. Your audience is applauding you. They want to listen to you. They are attentive and you are comfortable in the new role of a speaker. Have positive self-talk and positive visualization. If you imagine the worst, the worst will happen. If you imagine good, good things will happen. Leave space for last minute adjustments. You plan your 100 %, but things may not be the same. Accept it with a pinch of salt and be prepared for it. Always remember “ Change is the only thing which is constant in this world “. Either you adapt or become obsolete.

The audience wants you to succeed – Your audience wants you to succeed. They have assembled and have taken out time just to listen to you. You are important. Don’t let down the expectation of your audience. Give your best and succeed in your speech. Give your best. Try your best. Give it your best shot. It’s not the end of your life but just a beginning of a new journey.

Don’t Apologize – Being new in the public speaking domain may cause few faults that do not mean that you will apologize again and again. You are aware of your mistakes. But your audience might not be aware of it so don’t say sorry. Everyone in this whole world commits mistakes. Try to rectify the next time. Don’t feel low. Move on “ It’s your day “.

Gain Experience (Practice) – Experience leads to good results. Practicing your speech again and again gives you more confidence and an edge over others who try to fill the lost memory with unnecessary stuff. If you practice your speech again and again you will remember your speech. There will be no need to look at the notes. This sends a strong message and you are sure to get appreciation.

Practice in front of the mirror, in front of your friends, with family members. This will help you in calculating time and you will not stretch the given time limit. I have seen people speaking for hours and exceeding their allotted time. Please don’t do this it looks very unprofessional.

Check audio / visual equipments.

Pray to your God it helps.


Know your Audience

  • Age Group
  • Interest
  • Formal or Informal Setting
  • Subject Knowledge
  • Professional Background
  • Gender
  • Attitude towards Topic
  • Time

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