Photos of Conan in Movies

Overcoming Stage Fright

Thursday, 07 December 2006

Funnily enough the number 1 fear in the world is speaking in public, a close relative of stage fright. To get an answer on how to overcome stage fright we need to understand it's roots and causes. Then I'll provide techniques on how to overcome stage fright

Fear of speaking in public / stage fright occur to varying degrees.

At one weekend self development camp I did I met a computer programmer who got up at the end of the weekend and spoke about 4 sentences, stuttering the whole way.  After he finished the staff all burst into applause. I was rather confused by this, then the event organiser took the stage and personally congratulated this fellow.

This was his 3rd weekend camp, the first time he did the camp he stood up to speak then passed out before he uttered a word. The 2nd time he just stood there stage fright had him completely stunned, completely unable to speak as everyone looked at him. This 3rd time he was able to speak, not well but he could speak.

What could make a man behave such a way?


Fear of what other people will think about him if he messes up or says something wrong. 

I have also worked with a very famous internationally known singer before and they always got stage fright, the jitters, before going on stage, even though they had years and years of experience.

Personally the only times I have gotten stage fright is when I have not been in a good frame of mind, and have let my mind wander down the wrong pathway - thinking about all the bad things that could happen until I started to fret about it and then screwed up as I was too nervous.

Today if I catch myself going this way I switch my thoughts over to the way it is going to run, perfectly, just like in rehearsal. I imagine a successful outcome then I walk off and do something else until it is my turn to appear.

If you are in the previous group and really do have difficulty with fear of speaking in public / stage fright you need to do two things.

(1) You need to practise as much as possible, maybe join a group like Toastmasters International or take acting classes, to practise your speaking/performing in a small supportive group. The more you practise the better you will get and the less self conscious.

(2) Gain self confidence. Do a couple of successful runs then after that you should be fine, the first ones are the most difficult so do it in a way as to minimise damages. Perform in front of your supportive friends and family to practise, in front of the mirror or to the family dog if you have to or film it and watch playback by yourself.

Try talking about something you really like, something you are good at, this is much easier than talking about something you do not know so well. Your knowledge of the subject will help carry you through as the information should just fall from your mouth.

The more you appear the more you realise that all the 'rules' for successful  speaking / appearances are all wrong. Some of the best public speakers in the world are the 'worst' according to professional teachers of the subject. They stutter, wave their hands about, stride about the stage, use slang and sometimes profanity. Yet they are entertaining, and if you like them you will listen a lot more, if you pay more attention then you as an audience member will gain more from the speach. This is your aim if you appear in public - to keep your audience interested.

There was an amatuer comedian that I have seen before, 1/2 way through her routine she would often get stage fright and turn away from the crowd, face the back wall and continue her delivery. It was strange to see the first time, but the audience cheered her on for having the guts to stick it out each week and work on confronting her fear of public speaking in a rather direct way.

Unfortunately this is the only way to get over your fear of speaking in public / stage fright. To conquer it. Master it, control where your thoughts are going and concentrate on a good outcome, never think of the things that may go wrong. And in the end no one cares if you muck it all up, even if they laugh you made tehm happy and they will have forgotten about it all  by tomorrow or next week at the latest so don't worry yourself so much you make the mess that you feared the most.

In fact this method is the best way to overcome any fear, including a fear of heights 

< Prev   Next >