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As vocal coaches, we understand the crippling effects of stage fright all too well. Many public speakers – even the best ones – struggle with this debilitating anxiety. We’ve seen how nerves can cause vocal tremors, memory lapses, and panic when speaking in public, and these experiences enabled us to come up with effective strategies to help them conquer these challenges. Today, we share some insights on the classic – Calm your nerves: How to overcome stage fright and showcase your true potential as a public speaker.

Calm Your Nerves: How to Overcome Stage Fright

For many people, the mere thought of standing on a stage can cause a surge of unease and terror. Even the most experienced speakers occasionally experience stage anxiety, which manifests physically as trembling hands, a racing heartbeat, and dry lips. Woman reading a script while speaking in a room full of people

Nevertheless, we’ve seen how the right techniques and mindset can help people overcome this fear and confidently deliver flawless, engaging, and inspiring speeches. 

Understand the Root Causes

Recognizing the root causes of stage fear is the first step towards conquering it. You can start addressing your anxiety more skillfully by figuring out where it is coming from.


  • Perfectionism: The aim to speak flawlessly can put speakers under undue pressure and cause self-doubt. Speakers chasing perfectionism are usually afraid of being judged in case they make an error during the speech.
  • Negative self-talk: It can be a self-fulfilling prophecy to continuously criticize yourself and expect failure. 
  • Past experiences: A traumatic or embarrassing event in the past can have a long-lasting effect. If you have experienced something like losing your line or having to deal with technical difficulties before, there are chances of developing a conditioned fear response.
  • Fear of rejection: A common cause of stage anxiety is the fear of being turned away or given a bad review by the audience. You might be concerned about falling short of the mark or facing criticism.
  • Impostor syndrome: Doubting your abilities and accomplishments, despite evidence of competence, can manifest as stage fear. You might think you do not deserve the limelight.
  • Lack of experience: This is natural and something most people go through at the beginning. Trusting the process and knowing you’ll get better with experience is the way to move past it.

Prepare Thoroughly

Having everything ready helps reduce anxiety and increase confidence. Being well-prepared reduces the likelihood of being caught off guard or feeling insecure. A thorough preparation frees you from the worry of possible errors so that you can concentrate on giving your best effort. Group of people preparing for a presentation

  • Practice, practice, practice: Put your speech through its paces until it comes naturally to you. To improve your speech and body language, do it in front of a mirror. Make a video of yourself so you can see where your speech needs work. To mimic reality, try performing for friends, family, or a small test audience, if possible.
  • Visualize success: Use constructive visualization techniques to see yourself giving a faultless, confident speech from beginning to end. Imagine the applause from the crowd and a standing ovation at the conclusion.
  • Understand your subject matter: Know your material inside and out. Prepare intelligent answers in advance for any queries or difficulties that might come up. The more you look into the subject matter, the less likely it is that something unexpected will catch you off guard.
  • Master the logistics: Become familiar with the logistical components. To settle in and make sure everything is in working order, arrive early. By removing any possibility of technical problems, anxiety can be reduced.
  • Create backup plans: Even with careful planning, unforeseen events can still happen. In case of technical issues or brief memory lapses, have a backup plan ready, such as printed notes or slides.Don’t let anyone say “you ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, cryin’ all the time”. Don’t let fear hold you back. Identify the root causes, prepare thoroughly, and step confidently onto the stage.

 

Use Relaxation Techniques

Your body and mind can be calmed by incorporating relaxation techniques into your routine, which will lessen the physical symptoms of stage anxiety. You can approach the speech with poise thanks to these techniques, which can also lower your heart rate, relieve tension in your muscles, and foster calmness.

  • Exercises for deep breathing: Before the speech, inhale deeply and slowly several times. Breathe slowly out through pursed lips after taking a quick breath through your nose and expanding your belly. 
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Contract various muscle groups in your body one by one, then release them at once. Constrict each muscle group for five to ten seconds before releasing it, starting with your feet and working your way up.
  • Mindfulness meditation: Practice mindfulness techniques to stay grounded in the present moment and avoid getting caught up in anxious thoughts about the future.
  • Guided imagery: Close your eyes and picture a serene setting in vivid detail. Visualize the sights, sounds, and fragrances to bring your senses to life.
  • Light stretching: To release stored energy and ease tight muscles, do some light stretches and movements. Steer clear of exercises that are too hard, as they may exhaust you before your speech.

Woman taking a phone call with her hands on her headRelated Questions

Is it Possible to Completely Eliminate Stage Fear?

While it is possible to significantly reduce stage anxiety through techniques like thorough preparation, relaxation exercises, and cognitive reframing, it is unlikely to eliminate it completely for most people. A degree of nervous energy can be beneficial for a compelling performance, so managing stage fright rather than eliminating it is often more realistic.

Is it Normal to Still Feel Nervous as an Experienced Speaker?

Yes, it is normal for even experienced speakers to feel nervous before public speaking. Sources indicate that a moderate level of nervous energy is natural and can enhance one’s performance. Feeling some nerves means you care about doing well and are getting “psyched up” for the occasion. 

Are there Coaches That can Help me Surpass Stage Fright?

Yes, some qualified coaches assist people in overcoming anxiety and stage fear. In a controlled, secure setting, they can offer tailored advice, methods, exposure exercises, and support to help with confidence-building and anxiety management. 

Conclusion

It takes time, persistence, and a willingness to push yourself beyond your comfort zone to overcome stage fright. You can get over your anxieties and realize your full speaking potential by comprehending the underlying causes, planning meticulously, using relaxation techniques, changing your perspective, and getting expert help when required.