Grammy winner Adele has it.
So does operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli.
Dame Helen Mirren also has it.
Barbra Streisand was so disabled by it that she stopped performing live for 30 years!
What are we talking about? Stage fright, of course.
If you experience panic, nausea, sweating, or any of the many other symptoms of stage fright, you’re in good company; great company in fact.
Perhaps you aren’t performing live in front of thousands or making your Broadway debut, but merely introducing your boss at your company’s annual conference. Maybe you’ve been asked to make a presentation at the conference, which could really get you noticed by the top brass.
Whether it’s a great opportunity or a horrifying obligation, there are various things you can do to overcome your stage fright and rock the podium.
Carly Simon has admitted to terrible, debilitating stage fright. Apparently to compensate, she would sometimes poke herself in the hand onstage with a safety pin. Below are 10 suggestions to help you get you through it with a lot less pain:
- Make sure you are thoroughly prepared, with good notes and all the pertinent facts and figures at hand. And then, like that old joke, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” – practice, practice, practice.
- Give yourself some positive self-talk. Pay close attention to what you are telling yourself (or better yet, asking yourself.) "Do I know my material?", "Have I practiced enough?" When you can say yes to those questions, you can also assure yourself that you'll be great.
- Try visualization (like an Olympic athlete would). Before your event, imagine yourself on stage, going through your speech, calm and confident. See yourself successful, and don’t forget to include some positive audience feedback in your visualization.
- Practice deep breathing and head rolls to loosen up before going onstage. Develop a pre-podium routine that works for you.
- Prevent dry mouth by drinking room-temperature water, and gently biting your tongue to stimulate saliva. Also, avoid dairy, caffeine, alocohol, and sugar before your speech.
- Arrive early. Scope out the room, use the restroom, and make sure all the equipment you need is there and working properly.
- Use interactive techniques to focus on the audience. You can get the audience involved by asking a question or asking for a show of hands.
- Use (appropriate and relevant) humor to break the tension and create a bond with your audience.
- Keep in mind that audience members don’t know your “script.” If you go off track, just get back to your message -- they'll never know.
- Focus on the audience. People remember how you made them feel, rather than specific content. What do you want them to feel?