A blogger was doing research on stage fright for speakers and asked me how people can overcome it. My short answer was ‘They can’t – it’s a perfectly normal human response to fear or stress.’ Here are the highlights from the rest of the interview.
What I help my executive coaching clients accomplish is managing their stage fright or Presentation Anxiety (PA) through Minimizing and Masking Techniques.
Minimizing – your level of PA is based on a combination of causal factors, usually the fear of specific things like the fear of forgetting, fear of looking stupid, fear of not knowing your material, etc.
Start by precisely and completely identifying all those potential specific causes of your PA. Then, for each, indicate specific actions you can easily take to minimize that cause factor. If it’s fear of forgetting, the minimizing actions could be to have easy to use speaker notes and practice a lot more. Your comprehensive list of action steps become your PA Minimizing Plan.
Masking – but there will always be a level of PA remaining no matter what you do and that level can vary by the kind of presentation, audience make up and other factors. So, mask what’s left by not saying or doing anything to project fear, stress or lack of confidence and consciously displaying certain behaviors that do project confidence. ≈ One effective example is to smile more. Another is to slow down. Even if all this is an illusion, the audience’s perception is your reality. If you look and sound confident to them … you are!
So, while you can’t overcome Stage Fright, you can manage it by minimizing the impact of your specific causes and masking what’s left.