According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.
In the recent New Yorker Article, I Can’t Go On!, Joan Acocella exposes the truth behind stage fright, revealing that even the most practiced performers and best speakers often experience debilitating performance anxiety. No matter how many times you have been in front of a crowd, the physical sensation brought about by the rush of adrenaline before a presentation can make even the most confident presenter nervous. The good news is that while you may not be able to fully rid yourself of performance induced anxiety, it is possible to manage these symptoms before you hit the stage, the conference room or the TV studio by using a warm-up technique I created called Over-The-Top (OTT). Here’s how:
- Set aside 10-15 minutes in a quiet space where you will not be disturbed.
- Walk briskly around the room to loosen up and increase your energy.
- Go Over-The-Top (OTT). In a very loud, exaggerated, dramatic manner, say some Outer Monologues – words and phrases that will get you into your best, authentic, expert self- such as “I can’t wait to tell you this, “Wait ‘til you hear this and “I am the expert & I own this room.
- Begin to practice your opening and then the rest of your communication also OTT several times. If done correctly, you will feel ridiculous, silly and completely out of your comfort zone yelling these phrases out loud, but using going Over-The-Top will allow you to harness your nervous energy, focus your attention, and get you excited about communicating with your audience.
- When you are just about to go in front of your audience and can’t practice OTT out loud, say these words and phrases of confidence and excitement internally. That way, when you walk on the stage and start to talk, you will hit your performance stride exactly where you need it to be, looking confident, in control and even like you’re having a good time!