Reduce Stage Fright and Performance Anxiety

Whatever you call it, getting so nervous that you can’t think is the norm rather than the rarity.  As a presentation skills coach, this is typically the first problem people want to address, “How to I handle my nervousness? I can’t even remember my name!”


Here is my top ten on how to manage stage fright:

  1. Know your material by practicing. Then practice some more.
  2. When you feel yourself losing it, breath. 8 seconds to inhale, hold the breath for 8 seconds and take 8 seconds to exhale. Get oxygen to your brain!
  3. Then shift to the left side of your brain. Emotional terrorists reside in the right side of your brain. Your skill, information and cognitive thinking are in the left side. If you keep telling yourself how awful you will be, you will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  4. Don’t allow self-talk to drive you down the negative spiral road. You should be telling yourself that this will be successful.
  5. Memorize a little ditty, poem or mantra.  I like, ‘I’m glad I’m here, I’m glad you’re here.  I care about you and I know what I know.
  6. Arrive to your speaking venue, room or office early. Seeing where you are speaking and setting up early reduces nervousness
  7. Have notes that use bullet points. This will keep you from reading and will force the use of the left side of your brain.
  8. Polish platform skills. Move on purpose, establish appropriate eye contact and practice your voice control.
  9. Don’t use PowerPoint as a crutch. It will fail you. And understand how to put together a good visual-aid. (Yes that is what PowerPoint or Prezi should be – a visual-aid. By the way, is your handout compelling?)
  10. 10.  When you have finished your talk, don’t tear yourself down.  Give yourself feedback by telling yourself what you did well and considerations to change for next time.  Now you have a goal and positive talk.

Do you have a unique way to manage your anxiety?  Please share!

And if you choose to Google ‘Performance Anxiety,’ be ready for the results.  It’s not all about Stage Fright!

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