Here are a few ways to manage your stage fright before you present:
- Quiet your mind: Stop the self-critical internal chatter and think instead about something that calms you. Take a short walk outside. Listen to soothing music.
- Breathe: Sit on a chair or the floor, breathe deeply, and hold it in. Then take in one more gasp of air to fill your lungs even more—and let it all out very slowly. By doing this four times in a row, I’ve learned to calm my body down in less than a minute.
- Laugh: Read your favorite humor website or watch a funny video. Laughing doesn’t just distract you from your fear—it releases tension.
- Visualize: Communication coach Nick Morgan, the author of Trust Me, suggests my favorite fear-busting technique: He says to “Role-play in your mind a communication between you and your favorite person…. Form a memory of what that feels like physically. Notice everything you can about your behavior…. What are you doing with your hands?… How close are you?… Catalogue and remember the behavior, and then use that behavior.”
- Remember your audience is flawed: You’ve spent time thinking about how the people in your audience might resist your message—and rightly so. They do have that power. But, having studied them, you should also have insights into what makes them human and frail. Remembering that they’re just as flawed as you are will help calm your nerves.