If you've ever felt your heart racing, palms sweating, and knees shaking at the mere thought of speaking or performing in front of an audience, you're not alone. Stage fright can strike anyone, even the most confident among us. But fear not, because today, we're going to talk about how to conquer those butterflies and step into the spotlight with confidence, using the S.H.I.N.E. method for confident communicating.
In my full S.H.I.N.E. online course, we explore:
**S** for a story-based system.
**H** for Happy You, Happy Audience.
**I** for the Information Station.
**N** for Nitty gritty tech city.
**E** for E.N.G.A.G.E. the stage.
Each of the letters has a range of training that helps you to create, rehearse, perform and sell any presentation. Today, I’m giving you aspects of these systems in a quick power-pack to help you overcome stage fright.
**S** - **Start Small:**
One of the best ways to overcome stage fright is to start small and build your way up. Maybe you sabotage yourself and procrastinate so you never really get started before it’s time to present? I’ve done that. It’s not pretty. All-nighters were manageable in my 20’s, not so much in my 50’s. Begin by speaking or performing in front of a mirror or a close friend. Shoot a selfie video, just get going with actually doing it and completing the topic without saying, “Oh I’ll just wing it.” Rehearse your speech or routine until you feel comfortable. Don’t try to learn or memorise it, rather get up close and personal with it and make it super-familiar. Then, gradually increase the size of your audience. Remember, even the most famous performers started with a small audience!
**H** - **Harness Your Breath:**
Your breath is a powerful tool for managing stage fright. Practise deep breathing exercises before taking the stage. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. The exhale needs to be twice as long as the inhale. This helps your body to slow the mind. It calms your nerves and helps you focus. Breathing exercises can work wonders in boosting your confidence.
**I** - **Imagine Success:**
Visualisation is a fantastic technique to overcome stage fright. That whole “Imagine your audience is naked,” thing…er that’s an outright NO! That’s never worked for anyone. Too distracting for you, never mind the people. Close your eyes and imagine yourself on stage, delivering your speech or performance flawlessly. Visualise the applause and the smiles from your audience. Build it up vividly using all your senses. Think about the light. What does the room look like? Hear the chuckles and the approving agreements. Maybe there’s a fragrance? Imagine reading the room and interacting with people so confidently that even your self-doubt vanishes. How is the energy in the room? How do you feel inside? The more you can form a detailed picture of your success, the more confident you'll feel when it's time to shine.
**N** - **Nurture Self-Compassion:**
Remember, you're only human. Everyone makes mistakes, and nobody is perfect. Instead of beating yourself up over a slip-up, be kind to yourself. Most people won’t know what you intended to say, so go with the flow a bit. We don’t like too much polish anyway. It makes us feel like we are being lectured. Treat yourself with the same compassion you'd offer a good friend. Embrace your imperfections; they make you unique and relatable.
**E** - **Engage with Your Audience:**
Connecting with your audience is key to overcoming stage fright. Before you step onto the stage, mingle with your audience if possible. Make eye contact, smile, and establish a rapport. When you feel like you're among friends, the stage won't seem so daunting. Here’s the thing, when we get nervous about a presentation, we are making it about us. The presentation is for you to serve your audience. Prioritise their needs and stop worrying about whether you’ll make a fool of yourself. Just be you—well, be you but with a solution for them, and that will help ease the nerves.
Now that you're armed with an abbreviated version of the S.H.I.N.E. method, here are five practical tips to help you conquer stage fright:
1. **Preparation is Your Superpower:**
The more you prepare, the more confident you'll feel. Know your material inside out, rehearse, and be ready for any unexpected curveballs. That’s why I don’t like memorising presentations. If there’s an interruption, or if you don’t hit the next line, it can throw you off. Preparing keeps you prepared.
2. **The Power of Positive Self-Talk:**
Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Tell yourself you are capable, talented, and deserving of this moment. Your thoughts shape your reality. Self-worth is an inside job, so you do you, and don’t get disheartened by others.
3. **Movement and Gestures:**
Use purposeful movements and gestures to convey your message. Moving with intention not only makes you look confident but also helps you feel more in control.
4. ** Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse:**
Familiarity breeds confidence. Go and rehearse in the actual performance space whenever possible. Get comfortable with the stage, lighting, and equipment. I like to coach my clients to “Rehearse for Real,” which means I want them to run the presentation in real time, as if a real audience was present and at the real level of performance. When we just glide over what we think we’ll say, we don’t have the right energy.
5. **Embrace Feedback:**
Constructive criticism is your friend. Don’t collapse if someone has some pointers for you. And don’t let your negative inner critic break you down. There’s always a mixture of things to improve and things to remove. After your performance, seek feedback from trusted friends or mentors. Use their insights to improve your next appearance.
Remember, it's okay to feel nervous. In fact, a little adrenaline can be a good thing; it shows you care. With the S.H.I.N.E. method and these five tips in your toolkit, you're well on your way to confidently conquering stage fright. So go out there and shine like the star you are, because the world is waiting to applaud your brilliance! If you want to join my coaching and take your presentation skills to the next level, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org