I read with interest in the news this week about BAFTA award winning actress Olivia Coleman’s stage fright. Who would expect an established experienced actress to be frightened in front of an audience? Performers always look so confident on stage, that’s their job right? Her anxiety was so strong that she undertook cognitive hypnotherapy to help her get over her nerves on the first night.
“Willy [Olivia Williams] is having a chat and a coffee, I’m back there squeezing my knuckles and going through the things of [chanting] circle of love, circle of love, breathe out love”.
Stage fright or nervousness before or during a performance is more common than you think. Thank goodness more and more celebrities are now opening up about how they have dealt with stage fright and anxiety.
Most of us who are in management or leadership positions can’t get away from speaking in public. We need to present our ideas, talk to our teams, persuade, inspire and sell on a regular basis. So you’ve got to get over it or at least find a way to deal with it!
Q What can be done to overcome and or deal with stage fright / performance nerves?
A Take lessons from professional actors and performers
If you’ve done all of the above and you are still wracked with nerves. CHANGE YOUR STATE. Move your body. Do whatever it takes to change your focus. Bend down and tie your shoe lace. Go to the bathroom and make some shapes. Walk down the corridor deep breathing. Talk to someone on the phone about something completely different. Do some star jumps, yoga moves, whatever it takes to change your state from being frozen thinking about your nerves.
‘There are only two types of speakers in this world – 1. Nervous 2. Liars’
Rest assured that the majority of the planet feel the same as you when speaking in public. If you can practice the four techniques above I promise you will feel less fear and hugely more relaxed and confident. The less fear you feel the more your confidence will improve. And as you experience yourself wowing your audience you will lose your anxiety until you are totally relaxed speaking in public.
Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.
Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication