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Six Steps To Help You Conquer Stage Fright

Six Steps To Help You Conquer Stage Fright

Ever feel you’re not ready for the spotlight? Master your fears using these six steps to knock your performance outta the park! Stage fright (also known as performance anxiety) is not so difficult to overcome if you follow a few easy steps. These will work for any type of public speaking, from the board meeting presentation to Broadway. Follow the first three steps to get yourself ready, and the next three for the big night itself.

1. Preparation is key.

Do everything you can to prepare for your moment to shine. Memorize, rehearse, practice your presentation in front of your trusted friends: there’ll be less performance anxiety that way. If it’s a singing engagement, try practicing your song at a busy Karaoke bar. You’ll get all the crowd, without all of the pressure.

To overcome your stage fright, be sure to come up with performance goals for yourself. If you know you tend to sing louder at the end of your set, try singing louder at the start. If you want to slow down the pace of your presentation, then use a stopwatch while you practice. Performance goals can give you something to hone in on during rehearsal, and you can focus on your goals in your actual performance.

Have everything together when you practice, all of the materials you might need, notes, microphone, stool, musical instruments, and of course, bottled water. (You’ve got to stay hydrated!) And dress up when you rehearse! Nothing prepares you for the real deal like looking the part.

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2. Calm yourself.

In order to ease your mind in preparing for public speaking, find effective ways to calm yourself. A lot can be said about taking time to relax. Honestly, even a worst-case-scenario of your performance wouldn’t involve a literal train wreck. Take it easy. Meditate. If you believe in a god, pray to her or him. Or just ask the muses to keep you inspired. Do anything you can to calm yourself down both offstage and just before you go onstage.

3. Alter your perception of the audience.

I’ve heard it said before if you picture an audience naked it can help you to perform. Now I can see how that might help you feel more confident, but it might also make you uncomfortable or give you the giggles. Here are a number of ways you can perceive the audience that will definitely help you to perform.

This is a biggie. This is probably the number one reason you experience stage fright. If you are afraid of a big audience, there are a number of things you can do. First, try to think of the whole audience as a unit. Or try to pick out a single member of the audience and deliver a good deal of your speech to that person. If there’s only one, it might be easier for you to perform to him or her.

Second, picture the whole audience is made up of only your friends and family. By thinking of people who love you and want the best for you, it will make the whole experience easier to swallow. Also, if you are performing for a low-lit room of people – use the darkness to your advantage! No need for eye contact.

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A friend of mine had a very different suggestion: “If you have to perform for a large audience, picture them as a bunch of cattle. At any event, there will be people who don’t even want to be there: some preoccupied with themselves, others on their phones. You don’t have to perform for them. And you can’t please everyone, so don’t worry about stage fright.” By depersonalizing the audience, you can compartmentalize them. If your performance isn’t such an extravaganza, it may be easier for you to overcome your performance anxiety. Remember to do these next few steps as you perform.

4. You are in control.

Right before the show starts, you may be nervous, but remember you have all the control. You can get ready for it and ultimately, the pacing is up to you. And you can do the entire show just for yourself if you want to. Maybe the audience isn’t even there. (In that case, no need to have stage fright at all.)

You can pray again, or meditate before everything starts. Some actors sit in their trailers and do acting exercises before they begin. All of your preparedness will kick in again here. Be sure to have all of your materials at hand again: your costumes, your instruments, your water. These can be your last minute comforts before you grace the stage with your presence. Remember the scout motto: Be prepared.

5. The show must go on.

Once the show starts, you have to go through with it. This might not sound comforting at first, but it’s as helpful as it is true. You will have less and less stage fright as the show goes on, because you know it’s coming to a close. Therefore, once it’s underway you’ve only got to wait it out. So embrace it — Dive right in!

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Also, a mistake is only a bad thing if you make it that way. Many performers practice a technique called “railroading.” When you make a mistake, don’t draw any attention to it. An acting teacher once told me: “The audience is pretty clueless. They’re not going to notice your mistakes unless you make them a big deal. You will notice your mistakes because you have the script memorized and you’ve rehearsed it perfectly a hundred times. But they don’t know your lines. And they won’t see you walked the wrong way, instead of the way you rehearsed it. So, if you make a mistake, just keep on going.”

As the show goes on, keep focused on the performance goals you practiced. And remember to tell the story: if you get caught up in the story, you might forget you were nervous in the first place!

6. Just don’t think about it!

Sure, it’s easier said than done. Why not distract yourself a little in the hours before you go onstage? Or, you can just focus on the work. You only have to perform exactly what you rehearse. You only have to do what you’ve done before. It’s not brain surgery.

Sometimes all you have to do is give it a try to gain confidence. You could try pretending you aren’t really nervous. Sometimes the act of pretending can have a placebo effect on you — and suddenly you’re no longer nervous at all. Maybe you could imagine you are an alien with a secret message for all of humankind. Hey, it worked for Ziggy Stardust…

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Even the greatest public speakers still experience stage fright, but they’ve been able to minimize it using techniques just like these. Just remember the more shows you do, the simpler it gets. You will gain confidence as you go, and you will have memories to draw upon, reminding you performance anxiety really is no big deal. Let experience be your performance teacher, and it will get easier and easier.

Featured photo credit: Public_speaking/ProjectManhattan via upload.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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