“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”–Eleanor Roosevelt
You must address and revise any negative perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, images, and predictions related to public speaking or performing in order to substantially reduce stage fright. And the deeper fears related to being seen and heard by others, showing vulnerability, and being considered less than perfect are often helpful to uncover. At the root of healing is learning to accept yourself and not feeling that you have to prove yourself to others.
It is recommended that you learn skills to reduce and manage your fear and anxiety and not resort to using medication. It’s also critical to learn cognitive-behavioral methods to stop the cycle of avoiding fearful situations. Avoidance may give you immediate relief, but it reinforces your fear in the long run.
If you are willing stop avoiding your fears and learn new skills to reduce and manage them, you will develop an empowering belief and trust in yourself. In facing your fear, it becomes possible to overcome performance anxiety and find comfort and ease in expressing yourself in front of others.
Try these 10 tips to reduce your stage fright:
- Shift the focus from yourself and your fear to your true purpose—contributing something of value to your audience.
- Stop scaring yourself with thoughts about what might go wrong. Instead, focus your attention on thoughts and images that are calming and reassuring.
- Refuse to think thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence.
- Practice ways to calm and relax your mind and body, such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, yoga, and meditation.
- Exercise, eat well, and practice other healthful lifestyle habits. Try to limit caffeine, sugar, and alcohol as much as possible.
- Visualize your success: Always focus on your strength and ability to handle challenging situations.
- Prepare your material in advance and read it aloud to hear your voice.
- Make connections with your audience: Smile and greet people, thinking of them as friends rather than enemies.
- Stand or sit in a self-assured, confident posture. Remain warm and open and make eye contact.
- Give up trying to be perfect and know that it is OK to make mistakes. Be natural, be yourself.
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