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No Danger! 4 last-minute tips to deal with stage fright

As Mark Twain so nicely put it:"There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars." Everybody is nervous about public speaking. Especially the minute before we step in front of our audience. Our body shows extreme signs of fear, which makes the whole experience of public speaking so daunting. So what I am going to give you today are ways to respond to your body's signs of nervousness with ways to soothe it and thereby calm it down. This way you can proactively deal with your stage fright.
  1. Move around. If you stay glued to one spot, you will hear your heart pounding up to your ears. Think of Steve Jobs or speakers at TED Talks, there's a lot of walking around. You don't have to be a Steve Jobs, though. You can do that, too. If for whatever reason you have to stand or sit in one place. Move your hands and arms, move your head, turn your torso towards different people in the audience. Don't exaggerate this of course (!), and maybe practice it already when you are rehearsing your presentation. but feel like you have the freedom to move. This will signal your body: No danger! It's safe to move.

  2. Breathe. This is so important for speaking. All the sound that is coming out of your mouth is actually air, so improving your breathing technique will do wonders for you. Learn the deep breathing technique. Breathe into your lower abdomen and manage your air flow from your diaphragm. You can use it before your next presentation to calm yourself down. Then use it during your presentation to make pauses in your speech. It helps you support your voice AND helps you to calm down. This will signal your body: No danger! I can breathe.

  3. Take the focus away from yourself. When we are nervous we see and feel each sign of nervousness through a magnifying glass. We feel like everybody can hear our heart pounding and see our hands shaking. Remember this: THEY CAN'T. They don't know you as well as you know yourself. They can't feel what you feel. They have their own stuff going on. So keep the monologue you have prepared as short as possible and include questions, that take the spotlight away from you. This will help your body to relax because you will signal to it: No danger! It's NOT about me.

  4. Accept that you are human and not perfect. We are so used to seeing perfect people, giving perfect speeches in front of mesmerized audiences giving standing ovations. That is not the reality. All of these speeches are written by professionals, rehearsed hours and hours and directed and cut by professionals. If you have a full time job and giving presentations is just ONE aspect of it, when should you find the time to practice for hours and hours? Where is the professional who is writing your speech perfectly, so you can bask in the glory of your audience's applause? Nowhere. So why should you or anyone else expect that you will do it the same way? Relax! Do the best with what you have time for, give it your best shot and allow yourself to get better with every presentation that you are giving. This will signal your body: No danger! I can relax.
I hope these tips were useful. If you would like to get more tips like these or tried them out, please let me know. You can also subscribe to my newsletter, like my facebook page or read my other blog posts on tips about voice training and feeling confident as a public speaker. You can even join one of my workshops or sign up for individual coaching. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sonja Nannan




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