Stage Fright Strategies: Do Not Let the Nerves Get the Best of You

May 21, 2019 by Tina Žagar

Did you know that when asked about phobias, people would typically regard public speaking as the number one fear that in their views can dramatically hinder their performance? I was no exception in this regard, as it never felt very natural to me going out there to deliver a presentation in front of an audience. However, with an increasing number of occasions, when I was approached to make a presentation, I learned how to keep my nerves under control and manage the stage fright.

The literature on the topic is vast and you will find all sorts of advice on ways to overcome your fear of public speaking. No need to try following all of them – instead focus on those that you will be comfortable with and will be able to apply.

What helped me use the nervousness that I felt prior to delivering a presentation to my advantage was applying the lessons learned from running – my favorite sports, which has made me push my limits to go constantly further, both physically and mentally. It was back in 2015, when I decided that I needed a challenge, and put a whole new fresh meaning to my running trainings. I felt that it was time to make true my long-lasting wish to run a marathon. Obviously I had second thoughts, whether in the end I will be able to pull it off, as 42 kilometers was a distance that I had never run before in my life and that requires a lot of endurance.

 

While training for the »D-Day«, my attitude towards the marathon was a combination of fear and respect. When fear seemed to be getting to me, I repeatedly started to visualize myself finishing the crossing line and how this would feel like. To my surprise, by doing so I regained confidence and felt again very calm and determined to succeed. During the race I also realized that every minute that I had spent preparing myself for this day paid off. There were days when I had wanted to skip the training for whatever reason (bad weather conditions, tiredness, or a wish to visit a friend I had not seen in ages just seemed much more appealing than once again putting on the running shoes) but in the end I always got my priorities straight and did what needed to be done.

It is a bit like that also when you need to pull off an engaging and powerful presentation. The time you put in preparation should never be underestimated. The better you do your homework before stepping out there in front of the audience, the easier you will find it to talk your material through. Or as Benjamin Franklin said, »By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.« Similarly, while preparing for delivering a presentation, allow some time also for visualizing yourself giving a perfect presentation. You might be surprised how positive affirmations and visualization will empower and help you reduce stage fright!