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Stage Fright: Turn Nervous into Service — 1 Comment

  1. Good article, Dave. In my years of performing onstage, speaking and teaching/coaching presentation skills, I’ve addressed this issue a lot, personally and with others.

    Stage fright is obviously a real thing (unlike “writer’s block” or “creative block,” which is not). But in my experience, its cause usually comes down to two things: lack of preparation and lack of experience.

    If one wants to learn how to get a handle on performance anxiety, just take a tip from the true pros. Broadway performers spend years mastering their craft. And they work for hundreds of hours on a show before they even consider doing it in front of an audience. Experience and preparation.

    If you want to speak more, speak more. And if you want to speak more confidently, practice more – both on your content and in front of audiences.

    As for whether to memorize or not, IMHO that is a personal choice. As a former singer/actor, I memorize much more than many of my colleagues do. And here’s the reason – the better I KNOW my “script,” the more comfortable I an going off it. And the more confident I can recover if something goes wrong. So for me, it’s close to full memorization – so that I don’t have to stick with the script.

    I’ve often been asked by people I’m teaching or coaching, how to be more confident without having to practice a lot. My response is always the same: you can’t.

    Of course, as you say, even the most seasoned and confident speakers (and performers) experience some butterflies. But yes, when you KNOW you are ready, then you can use that energy to make yourself an even more dynamic and engaging speaker. Many people think that “speaking” is a natural activity, so everyone should be able to do it. Approach speaking as any artist approaches their craft. THAT is the secret.