Calvin Strachan | How to get rid of stage fright before a presentation
Over the span of my career I've held many roles, most of which required me to perform under massive pressure.
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How to get rid of stage fright before a presentation

So many people get flustered and terrified of speaking in front of large audiences. Whether it’s on Zoom, or Teams, or WebEx, or maybe in front of a live audience, their heart starts to race, because of the idea of people watching them and staring at them freaks them out.

I do a lot of presentations, and I have for a number of years. So, what do I do? How can I help you be your best under pressure and deliver when stage fright is negatively impacting you?

First, you have to prepare.

If you look at any other videos on stage fright, they’ll tell you practice like crazy. But here’s one thing that’s different with my suggestion – you want to practice in the same conditions you’re going to be in. You can’t practice in your kitchen; and you can’t practice in your bathroom mirror. If you’re going to be on Zoom, you have to set up the computer, get the camera on, and go for it. If you’re going to be speaking in front of a large audience, do your best to find a stage or a conference room somewhere, and try and walk around in that space. Why? You’re building up muscle memory. So when you get there live, in front of the audience, you will be much more familiar with the settings. It is a solid recommendation to practice and prepare, but you have to practice and prepare in the exact same conditions you’re going to be in. If you’re not doing that, it’s a disservice to you.

Second, you want to get the nervousness out of your head.

Don’t just sit there and wait for your presentation to start. Too often presenters are ruminating on, “What does the slide say? Are they going to have their cameras on? Are they going to come off mute? Are they going to type?” All these thoughts are going through their mind. My suggestion is – write out your fear, your doubt, and your worry before you start. Don’t just sit there festering in it; let it go.

In my other videos you may have seen, I’ve talked about research supporting this. Individuals before an examination that just sat there in the pressure…choked. But those who felt that pressure and wrote about it for 10 minutes, literally writing down phrases like: “Oh my gosh, I’m terrified. What am I going to do?” They didn’t choke, and their marks were unaffected. The same is true for presentations. Does that make sense?

Finally, affirm your value.

A lot of times, we attach our value to our success. In other words, we attach our value to our accomplishments. In our culture there is an addiction to achievement. When you’re presenting in front of an audience, there is a chance you may not achieve, and that puts tremendous pressure on you. Realize that your value is not attached to your achievement; it is attached to who you actually are.

The research says, before you do your presentation; write down all the things that are great about you. For example you could write about: the fact that you actually get a chance to speak to an audience; the fact that you can speak; the fact that you have your health; the fact that you can run, walk, talk, read or the fact that you have friends or people who love you.

Anything you find valuable about yourself, simply write it down before you start. As you do, you will be affirming your value. Placing your attention on your value becomes an inoculation against the pressure. You won’t be worried about achieving anymore because you’re already valuable.

Apply these concepts: practice under the same conditions you’re going to be in, write out your fears and doubts and worries, and affirm your value. Do these three actions, and you’ll be surprised how much stronger you’ll be for your next presentation.

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