I know it’s not something that is easy to admit or talk about, but it can be debilitating for our career when public speaking anxiety or stage fright takes over. We want to appear cool and in control, but as soon as we step in front of our audience we appear anything but.
Fortunately it is quite common and something that affects almost all of us to a certain degree. Even some of the most famous and successful performers get anxious when getting on stage. So if we have the same issues as Adele, Rihanna and Rod Steward, I think we can safely say that it has nothing to do with our capability or talent.
As a voice coach, I have been trying to help my clients deal with their anxiety from a voice technique perspective. Taking charge of their breath, supporting their voice from their diaphragm and trying to - even when nervous - not let it show in their voice.
Over the years, I have been working through research in various fields like neuroscience, positive psychology, communication and mindfulness to get to the bottom of what actually helps us with public speaking anxiety and makes us feel confident in front of an audience.
It is an ongoing process, but my clients and I have been trying out various techniques to make us more confident and here is a 5 step process that we have found to be the most promising one.
1. Become present - breathe. Slowing our thoughts down and becoming present in our body and connected with our breath and the sensations going on is a very important part in transforming the feeling of nervousness.
2. Accept your feelings. We tend to push away uncomfortable emotions. Unfortunately that is how they actually become stronger. Acceptance is the first important step to transform anxiety.
3. Feel your feelings. Once we have accepted our anxiety it is time to allow ourselves to feel it. You can put a timer on for 5 minutes or turn on a song and allow yourself to feel these uncomfortable feelings. Emotions have the tendency to naturally transmute, once we have allowed ourselves to feel them.
4. Give your anxiety a voice. I believe in the therapeutic power of writing. It is a very easy way to express pent up emotions and can help us get more clear on what is actually going on. When our emotions are written down and expressed, it becomes easier to handle them.
5. Turn your ‘negative’ nerves into ‘positive’ excitement. Now that you have allowed yourself to feel the ‘negative’ emotions of anxiety and nervousness, find a positive equivalent to this feeling that is just as intense but has a positive connotation. Take some time to feel the positive intensity.
This process is one possible way of dealing with our stage fright or public speaking anxiety. If it doesn’t work on you, it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. It just means that the process has to be different for you. Allow yourself to play a bit around with it and find the best process for YOU.
Of course some of our fears are more complex and we can really benefit from exploring them in more detail. Everything that is seemingly "limiting" us is an invitation to go deeper and allow it to transform us.
If you need some guidance in becoming more confident presenting and sharing your voice with an audience - book a 30 free discovery call with me here.
You can also check out my coaching program here.
30min online transformation of nervousness: I have created an online mini coaching process called “Last minute confidence boost - presentation rescue kit, that you can check out here.
And if you have read this post and tried out one or some of my tips, feel free to send me an email and tell me about it.