How To Cope With Nerves On Stage
Date: January 28, 2016
If you really care about your profession and want to make a difference to your audience’s life, you WILL get nervous when you’re on stage.
Nerves aren’t always a bad thing. If you don’t get them then you should be worrying, because you don’t care enough about what you’re doing.
You can overcome stage fright and performance anxiety and many of the world’s greatest speakers were just like you are now. A lot of controlling your fear is emotional rather than physical.
So banish your nerves and be the best public speaker you can be by learning to deal with those hand sweats, stutters and memory loss with these tips.
Speak About Topics You’re Comfortable With
Enjoying your topics will help to conquer your fears a lot more than talking about something you only vaguely know.
Although every speech should be for your audience and not you, you still have a right to enjoy it too, otherwise you’ll work yourself up.
When you are happy or excited, your brain releases a chemical that makes you feel good.
I used to get nervous for exams that I hadn’t thoroughly revised for because I wasn’t sure if I could handle the pressure when it came down to it. Don’t put yourself in that situation.
If you’re asked to speak to Graduates but you didn’t go to University, then don’t talk about how education will make you more successful when you don’t agree with that statement.
Use an angle that is relatable, but you understand too. Don’t get too big for your boots and end up sounding like Wikipedia or making up facts to sound like you know what you’re talking about.
Allow yourself enough time to properly research and plan your new area so that you’re not saying anything that isn’t factually correct or outdated. That way you’ll have complete confidence in yourself to deliver an educational and inspirational speech.
Use A Character When You’re On Stage
If you feel like it’s impossible for you to banish your nerves because you are naturally a worrier and someone who frets, then become someone else.
Alright, easier said than done, but think about actors. They aren’t really cheats, murderers or FBI agents, but they open themselves up to play another character… and you can utilise this technique also.
If you give yourself another persona when you’re on stage – someone who’s confident, cheery and outgoing, then you are protecting your own feelings and nerves.
Then, anything that happens on stage isn’t happening to you, but your character! This will help to protect your ego and allow you to step outside of yourself to avoid overthinking your nerves.
Give your new character an identity – a personality, name, characteristics and background, and promise yourself, that whilst you’re speaking, you are nobody other than that person. (Just make sure people will like them!).
Do Other Things In Your Life That Scare You
I know it sounds crazy, but for some people, the only way to get over their fears is to do the things that scare them. If you can become a person who rock climbs and scuba dives, then nothing else will scare you.
Write a list of ten things that you’re scared to do (no matter how small or big they may seem) and do one of those things on your list by the end of the month.
As you progress through your list, eventually you will grow accustomed to fear and embrace it rather than shying away from it.
Fear is an emotion and it cannot harm you. It is your responsibility to keep it under control so that you can start living a happier life.
Once you have written your speech, practice it in front of an audience several times before; you’ll find that each time you present it, you’re less nervous and enjoy it more.
Don’t Jump Into The Deep End Just Yet
Your nerves on stage might be a way of telling you that you’re not ready just yet.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue your speaking career, but maybe speak in front of a smaller or bigger audience (depending on which size makes you feel more comfortable).
Rather than putting additional pressure on yourself to motivate people, just make it your mission to engage and entertain people. That’s a lot less terrifying!
Particularly if you’ve only spoken a handful of times in your life, you will get stage fright, so choose to speak at a place you’re familiar with, take your support network with you and don’t travel too far from home.
If you make it too much of a big deal, you will find it difficult to not fret when you’re looking out at the audience.
Make The Stage A Happy Place
The stage isn’t a place that you should fear, but a place that holds unlimited opportunities and happy memories.
If you’ve never had any, or only a small amount of experience on stage, then you’re probably picturing it in your head as an intimidating place to be where everyone is watching you and hoping that you mess up.
Go to the theatre and watch other speakers present to see things from an audience’s point of view, and you will realise that it looks fun being at the centre of people’s attention and people can’t see you so closely that they can see sweat on your forehead.
Besides from that, join a speaking group, or set one up, in your area. Maybe you could attend drama classes to become more familiar with the stage.
Any experience you can get in being the focal point, will benefit you and you’ll soon LOVE the view from the stage.
Public speaking is scary because you have a lot of pressure to not mess up and get everything right the first time. You do not get any second chances and you can’t hide behind anything.
The only way to face your nerves is to do something about them and not just run and hide and hope that you will never be anxious again.
Work on your problems to resolve them. Get excited, rather than nervous, about your next project by speaking in any area you’re familiar with, about a subject you enjoy and to people who make you comfortable.