Overcoming Stage Fright

CurtainIt’s freshman year in high school and after realizing I will never become a professional basketball player I op out of gym and into Mrs. Moore’s speech class. Two weeks in, I’m standing in front of class, too nervous to say a word, I freeze, becoming another statistic for Mrs. Moore to talk about in class on Monday. Too often is this the case when asked to talk in front of a classroom full of our peers. Flash-forward 7 years and I’m standing in another speech class this time being awarded the “Most Improved Speaker” an award that was voted on by my peers. Looking back I have learned a few new tricks of the trade.

Focus on the Smileys– “Smileys” are those people who are focused on you like a laser and after having a few lattes that morning are smiling out the caffeine. They are your supporters! They want to see you succeed and are often genuinely interested in what you have to say.

Use Your Nerves as Allies– Using your nerves in your favor will boast your overall morale. Mistake that feeling of nervousness for excitement. You’ll find that your nerves will be exhausted after speaking so let them be suspended in a positive manner.

Try Drinking-I’ve had a couple of teachers recommend drinking to loosen up before presenting. Now while drinking may be great when your off with your buds it could be dangerous when used as a crutch for speaking in front of class. Instead I recommend taking a bottle of water to class to help clear up your throat. A clean strong voice will make you seem more confident on stage and will help cover up any shakiness in your voice.

Practice the material-I believe why we, especially us un-experienced college kids, have a hard time presenting is because we don’t feel confident in what we’re talking about. May be we don’t know all that there is about selling, lets say, a gamma knife to a hospital but if we had the chance to talk about music, something we know and love, we’d be okay up there. Since most likely we’ll be talking about something we just learned about ourselves it is imperative that we practice prior to the speech as to look as if we know everything there is about gamma knives.

Add Spice to Your Slides-If you’re using slides in your presentation try having information bulleted, quoted, and outlined. Use videos to take up the time. Videos and pictures can also help keep attention focused away from you. Giving you enough time to grab a whiskey and coke-uh-I mean a bottle of water.

Be Prepared-It can be hard to wing-it when you are being put on the spot. Being prepared is by far the easiest thing you can do prior to presenting. Having everything in order and setup property will help insure you that things won’t go wrong.

Bring Note Cards-A fifteen minute speech can have a lot of information involved. Keep note cards handy in case you forget some of the material. Remember to write numbers on top of the note cards to help keep them in order and to coordinate the headings with those on the slides.

After 8 years of experience with presenting I have hardly perfected speaking in front of people. It takes practice to make each speech flawless. Eventually you will become comfortable with speaking in front of people and it will begin to show. Just remember to be yourself because everyone in the room was once in your shoes.

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