Conquering Stage Fright

If you’re like many writers, and many people in general, the thought of public speaking gives you the jitters, the hives, and/or a sudden urge to run for cover. I’ve experienced my share of severe heart thumping, not to mention having my throat constrict to the point where I couldn’t down a mint if I tried.

It’s no fun to be tossed into an emotional battlefield of fear, nerves, dread, and anxiety because of stage fright. It dims the chance to live life fully in a happy, positive state, as we should. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

At my first author panel, a former co-worker asked how I could possibly summon the courage to speak in public, since I was a trifle shy by nature. The answer was simple: I forgot my shyness whenever I had the opportunity to talk about a topic that stirred up my passions. Namely, my passion for reading and writing. Passion ignites enthusiasm and excitement, both of which provide padding around the heart that crowds out distressing heart thumping or a bad case of nerves.

It’s all in how you approach challenges according to Carlos Ghosn, the head of Nissan who says: Your audience will forget 90% of what you say within 24 hours. What stays with them is your attitude, your emotion, the feelings you convey. I can confirm that it’s not only that your audience that will forget what you say; there’s a good chance you will too. But you’ll remember how you felt which will enable you to carry that wonderful feeling wherever you go.

To be sure you’re left feeling nothing less than terrific, the objective should be to replace negative emotions with the positive ones. How? Take a moment to pause and define your emotions. If you’re feeling down, change direction. Literally. Take a walk, bake a cake, pet your favorite animal (or human) friend. Any of these or similar actions should coax positive feelings or emotions to the surface. Spend time fanning the positives, giving them all your attention. Keep at it until the negatives feelings are forgotten and fade away. I think this quote sums it up nicely:

The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid. — Lady Bird Johnson

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6 years ago

You are right. When I have to talk to a lot of people my whole body shakes. It’s tough to be calm. Thanks for this post!

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