They call it stage fright, but it’s not the stage that is so frightening, it is the fear of inadequacy. Added to that is a lack of trust in your own abilities to perform to the standards you have set for yourself. They must be your own standards because you have no idea what the audience expects from you until you have finished and they express their opinion. If you set your standards too high, as women especially tend to do, you are simply setting yourself up for failure. Here are some tips that will help you change your thinking.
The audience is not your enemy. They are there to hear what you have to say. They want your presentation to be entertaining and beneficial so they don’t have to sit through another boring forty-five minute talk.
The more time you devote to preparation, the less anxious you will feel. Practice giving your talk in front of your best friend, your husband, your dog, or anyone who will listen and not criticize.
Keep your presentation simple and entertaining. Even if all you are presenting are the monthly sales figures, don’t bore your audience or you will lose them. A good rule is 70 percent content and 30 percent conversation.
Don’t rely solely on the audience’s reaction. You can’t get into the minds of your audience, but you can control your own reactions. If you are having a good time, the audience will feel it and join in. If you tense up, the audience will feel uncomfortable too. If you are secure in yourself and in your material, audience reaction is a bonus, not a lifeline.
They won’t all be gems. Even the best have bad days, where everything that can go wrong, does. Every woman who stands in front of an audience must learn the fine art of letting go. If you have a bad presentation, give yourself twenty four hours to grieve over what you “should have done,” then let it go.
Make sure your vocal skills are in place. If your voice is soft and weak, no one will hear your words. If your voice is too shrill, people will struggle to listen to you. If your voice sounds too young, no matter how many PhDs you have tacked onto your name, it’s hard to be taken seriously. Improve your voice and you will improve your life and business.
You are not afraid of a stage, you are afraid of you. Take control of yourself and the stage fright monster will stay locked away. The best solution to the problem is to face your fears as often as possible. Instead of avoiding situations where you have to talk, seek them out. The more you put yourself out there and practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Adapted from The Voice of Success: A Woman’s Guide to a Powerful and Persuasive Voice by Joni Wilson, Amacom.