Joe Abraham is a Speaker, Teacher and Coach. With 18+ years in the field of Personal & Leadership Development, he works with businesses to help people develop the leadership skills necessary to excel at work & life. He is a Certified Member of The John Maxwell Team (USA). He can be reached at www.joeabrahamlive.com.
There are countless number of people who are afraid to face the microphone. There are many business leaders who feel their heart rate increasing when they think about on-stage communication. However, the truth is, they can break stage fright. It is not unbreakable. Anyone can break it by applying certain basic communication principles.
You may think why I am so confident to say this. Yes, I am confident about breaking stage fright because I was a victim of it – for many, many years. I remember standing before my mother one day and trembling head to foot just to sing a song. It was the same condition when teachers asked me a question in the class. To say the least, I went through this humiliating experience again and again. But, long story short, today I am not afraid. I broke the power of stage fright. Not only that, I help many of my clients break their stage fright too!
Well, that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel fear when I face audience, especially new faces. The difference is, I am not overwhelmed by fear. I have learned how to ride above it.
As a business leader, you may have the dream of doing public speaking – may be to a small group or to thousands of people. But when the opportunity shows up, you give up or postpone it to another future date when you become ‘good at speaking’. You don’t need to do that anymore. Here are seven simple basic steps which you can start applying today itself in order to break stage fright and make your dream come alive!
1. Find someone or a small group as your audience.
You can start your public speaking with just your closest friend. Never thought of that, right? Yes, you can. You tell your friend about your dream of doing public speaking. Ask your friend to be your ‘audience of one’. You do your presentation for a few minutes and let your friend give you an honest feedback. You will surely get a handful of helpful comments from your caring friend. And your dream has just begun to unfold!
If you want, you can also go for a handful of your friends as your audience.
2. Have a basic outline to your presentation.
Yes, you can speak without an outline. Some are really good at such impromptu delivery. At the same time, if you are a beginner, it is better to make a simple outline with a handful of points about what you are going to speak. It gives you greater clarity and confidence.
One of the reasons why many find it difficult to speak publicly is because they are not clear about what they need to deliver on stage. Where there is no clarity of thought, there is no clarity in speech. Going for a basic outline can solve this problem. It will also boost your confidence level.
3. Give yourself freedom to fail.
We love great speakers. None of us like to be a failed speaker. However, the truth is, we do not become successful by never failing, but by giving ourselves freedom to fail – again and again.
Yes, we live in a ‘super-fast generation’. We like super-speed. But many valuable things take time, and one of those is doing an excellent speech. So, for time being, forget about doing a super-good presentation if you are a beginner in this lane. Give yourself freedom to fail. Get ready and do your best at your present level. This will break the fear of failure which is one of the main reasons of stage fright.
4. Consider the benefits of your presentation for the audience.
One good way to overcome stage fright is to consider how much your presentation is going to help the audience. Take a piece of paper and jot down the benefits. If you need, take some time to think about it and then write them down. Keep this in a place where you can see it often. Purposefully read it whenever you see it during the day. Think about those benefits when you go to bed at night. This simple ‘ritual’ will help you paint a positive picture about your speech and build your confidence.
5. Stand up and deliver to the best of your ability.
Your success as a public speaker depends on your willingness to start as soon as possible, preferably today! You may think that you are not ready yet. That’s okay. Do what you can, not what you can’t. Do your best at this level. Seize the moment. Embrace the opportunity.
Success is not an event; it is a daily process filled with small and big success stories, usually seemingly insignificant ones! And when you choose to stand up and deliver, it creates a momentum that breaks stage fright.
6. Learn from mistakes.
When you speak, mistakes happen. That’s natural. What is unusual is when you don’t learn from those mistakes. Someone said, “The greatest lesson we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.” That’s pathetic. We can change that.
Learn from your mistakes that you made in your speech. How do you do that? Ask for a feedback from your audience. Ask your friend. Record your speech and hear or watch it later to find mistakes. Give the recording to an expert speaker and ask for an honest feedback for improvement. Learning from mistakes is one of the best ways that help you avoid doing it the next time. It will also help you break stage fright and make you a pro in the speaking lane.
7. Fix your next gig.
Once you do your speech, don’t feel too satisfied and sit on the laurels. Go for the next gig. Ask your friends to find or arrange a speaking opportunity for you. Offer to speak free for charitable organizations. After doing a couple of speaking gigs, you may offer companies your speaking services. The point is, keep doing your dream and that breaks stage fright as well as makes you become better in the process.
As I shared earlier, I struggled with stage fright when I started out. But when I began applying these simple principles, it began to fade. Eventually I overcame the fear of public speaking. And that is possible for you also. So take a baby step about your public speaking dream today and see what heights it will take you to in the coming days.
Question: What baby steps are you going to take today to break stage fright?