Stage fright or performance anxiety is a persistent phobia which is aroused in an individual when required to perform in front of an audience.
So how do you overcome stage fright when speaking in public?
Know Your Stuff
Nothing will stop stage fright in it’s gripping tracks like being prepared. Know your content, your speech and more importantly your audience. If you know what you are talking about then you have no reason to be nervous.
Understanding your topic will enable you to speak more naturally and hence more confidently. Also, should a technical hitch occur, this won’t faze you as you are already confident on the subject.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Knowing your stuff helps, but it doesn’t necessarily eradicate the problem. You need to practice as much as you can before the performance or public speaking d-day.
Really know your content inside out and practice (preferably in front of a live audience) as much as possible to build your confidence.
Talk Yourself Down
You need to realize that even though stage fright is “all in the mind,” the fear manifests itself in physical ways. The best offence is to change your negative talk. Stop worrying about, “What if I forget the content?”
Change that into positive talk like, “What if I am great at this?” It may sound simplistic or too easy, but positive affirmation will go a long way in reducing stage fright when speaking in public.
Wallow in the Worst
If you can’t calm yourself down with positive talk, then maybe it is time you thought about the worst case scenario. Once you do this, you’ll realize that the worst case scenario isn’t really that bad. This might help calm your nerves.
Visualize the Outcome
Call it what you will: reflection, visualization, meditation. Whatever you call it, just do it. Spend time visualizing yourself giving a perfect presentation and speaking in public – filled with humor, warmth, confidence and intelligence.