There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars
As per ‘Acute Stress Response Theory’, people respond to life threatening situations by either Fight or Flight. It is no secret that public speaking is one of the top 5 fears of people around the world. When before an audience, our body responds as if it is in a life threatening situation and prepares itself to fight or flight. Adrenaline rushes into our bloodstream along with an abundance of sugar and fatty acids which gives us a surge of energy and strength required for fighting or running. Our heart pounds, muscles contract and our breathing accelerates when we shift into the ‘fight or flight’ gear. In short, you are in the best possible physical condition to perform when you are before an audience. But how to ensure that we fight and not flight in the situation?
Many of the top performers around the world get stage fear but they handle it to their advantage. As specified before stage fear prepares your body for a great show. Control your stage fear and utilize the good side effects of it, viz., the surge in energy and sharper reflexes etc. Few tips which always helped me to beat the stage fear are given below:
One of the major causes of stage fear is the fear of failure. If we master our material, we could reduce this fear considerably and increase our confidence. Be very sure about what you are want to communicate to the audience.
When we are calm, we breathe slowly and when we are afraid, we breathe fast. This works great in the reverse order as well. By breathing slow and deep, we could attain the calm state of mind. So, take deep breaths when you are being introduced or just before you start speaking.
Visualize yourself doing the complete speech or presentation before the audience. If we do it multiple times, it will get recorded in our subconscious mind and we will perform on the stage as if we are in auto pilot. When you visualize yourself successful, there are higher chances that you will be successful.
Focus on the First 2 Minutes
The most difficult part in any speech is the beginning. Once we are on track, we will continue the presentation till end. Practice the beginning part several times and focus more on it. Even if your speech is a one hour speech, see it as a five minute speech and focus more on those five minutes.
Start with Humor
A little laughter from the audience side will relax us and will give us more confidence. Always try to start your speech with a joke or a humorous incident and positive results are guaranteed.
Interact with Audience
Seek audience interaction by asking questions. Audience participation will give you time to relax and organize your next step. It also makes you confident because response from audience is an indication that they are interested in your presentation.