It should come as no surprise that public speaking is America’s top phobia, ranking higher than fear of heights and fear of spiders. As someone who has booked and coached hundreds of bands and solo artists, I have seen my fair share of stage fright. I’ve also experienced it myself.
When your nerves get the best of you, this manifests itself physically in a number of ways ranging from a racing heart, to “butterflies” in your stomach, to dry mouth, cold or clammy hands, and the feeling that you’re about to be sick.
Forget the suggestion that you need to imagine the audience in their underwear! Here are some tips that are more practical and effective:
1) Get in the zone! Take some time before you go on to do some slow, deep breathing. Try this a few times until you feel calm. Go off by yourself for a while and get in the zone.
2) Be positive! Put affirmations up on your mirror at home and say them to yourself before you go on. Imagine a positive outcome and that you’ve knocked it out of the park!
3) Learn how to improvise! Like they say, stuff happens! Make a joke & go with the flow!
4) Smile and make eye contact! Search out friendly faces in the crowd and smile and nod when you talk. This makes a connection with the crowd and can help you feel more confident as well.
5) Stand firm! Watch your posture. Make sure you’re not hunching over the podium or microphone. If there is no podium, talk with your hands a bit. Make sure your arms are open and not in your pockets, behind your back, or on your hips. Your feet should be spread apart about 10” or so, not only for balance but because it evokes confidence (often called “the power stance”).
Dori Staehle is the Chief Encouragement Officer at Rock the Next Stage and a motivational speaker, coach, and occasional booking agent and emcee. She also plays percussion in a band and offers drum therapy for clarity, stress relief, and healing. For more info or to schedule a complimentary 30-minute strategy session, click here.