Do you have stage fright when you make a speech in
public ? To find out, ask a friend how you look and
sound as you practice a speech, or as you give a speech
in a real situation. Or make a tape recording of
yourself as you speak or practise. But to really prove
to yourself that you do indeed look much more confident
than you feel, watch a video tape recording of yourself.
Today, that is a lot easier to do than you may think.
Record a brief statement – just a minute or two of your
speaking in your style. When you watch the tape being
played back, ignore those details that most people
concentrate on the first time they see themselves on TV.
Forge the tie that may be crooked, the ruffled blouse,
the lipstick that is too dark, the hair out of place.
Instead focus on what you say and how you say it. Replay
the recording and look with honesty and objectivity for
any telltale signs that may show nervousness. Sure, some
will be seen – a fumbled word, a repeated gesture, a
But most of these little signs of stage fright will
not be noticed by most viewers. You will spot them, you
will worry about them, you will feel your own
nervousness, but your audience rarely does. After all,
how often do you notice the signs of nervousness shown
by your minister, teacher, TV newscaster, when they
After you have given your first speech, you will
continue to learn that stage fright really isn't that
big a problem. Sure, you will be nervous. But you will
continue to gain control of your nerves. The reason ?
You will gradually begin to realize that your audience
is there to hear you succeed, not fail. Think of your
own reactions when you are a member of an audience. in
the moments before the speaker begins, what goes through
your mind ? Do you think: Sure hope this is a lousy
speaker ! Hope he does a poor job. Hope he is a failure.
Of course you do not think of such negative thoughts.
Virtually all listeners think just the opposite. We hope
that the speaker we are about to her will be
interesting, stimulating, tell others about with pride,
even making them envious that they have missed this
Research indicates that empathy or a felling of
mutual support between speaker and listeners, actor and
audience, is the surest relief from stage fright. Once
you as the speaker receive that first positive reaction
from an audience, you will suddenly feel much more
confident and relaxed.
When you see some of your listeners nod in agreement
with something you say, much of your stage fright will
disappear immediately. That is one major reason why so
many experienced speakers often begin their talks by
telling a joke – the laughter from the audience relaxes
both the speaker and his listeners. Listeners look
forward to a successful speech as the way the athlete
concentrates on the game for success.
Concentrate on what you are saying, not on how you
are saying it. Concentrate on the ideas, the importance,
the relevance of what you are telling your audience, you
will further control and reduce your nervousness. Many
speakers tend to focus their thoughts on insignificant,
distracting details. New speakers may worry about their
voice, choice of words, gestures, movement, emphasis,
sentence structure. don't let such details distract you.
Focus on the 'big picture' of your message, and not your
Learn to relax. Some professionals, knowing they are
going to be nervous, develop their own outlets. Some
simply wring their hands. Others meditate. deep
breathing helps. Many speakers find relaxation exercises