Have you ever felt like you were watching yourself walk up on a stage or to the front of a room of people? I have. It’s really weird!
Nerves and fear seem to slow down time enough so I can have a last minute argument in my head on whether or not to turn around and run away.
That’s the fight or flight instinct kicking in!
Do I stay and push through even though it’s scary & hard OR…do I run away and avoid it all together?
If it’s public speaking….please STAY!
You’re never going to get better if you don’t get some experience.
But, what can you do right now…in the scary place? You mind is thinking about all the bad things that can go wrong…and you need to be more focuses on taking action.
Well, here’s what many actors use to hack their fear-mongering mindset: Act “as if…”!
Act as if…you can NOT fail.
Act as if…you are confident.
Act as if…the audience is full of your friends who love everything you do.
Act as if…you know the audience WANTS to hear what you have to say.
Act as if…you were an expert.
Act as if…you knew your message could help one person in your audience’s life to be better that day…or even save it.
Get your mind OFF “flight” (walking away…and how YOU FEEL) and instead start thinking about how to “fight” (get your message told no matter what).
To be honest, you have to commit & recommit yourself to thinking like this before walking up in front of a group. It requires you to set aside the “me” “me” “me” thoughts that make you want to leave.
Start to focus on your listener. What will help them. Stop assuming they hate your guts and are waiting to throw rotten tomatoes at you.
You have to want the result (a mindset shift) to get it. So, you have to promise & make the choice to stay and put in the effort.
You get to play a game of pretend and focus on your new way of thinking— a way that is hyper mindful of your audience. Choose just one of the “as if” statements from the list above (or makeup your own) …and redirect all your drifting fearful thoughts back to that.
For example, if you were to act “as if…you couldn’t fail”…
- How would that change the way you walked into position on stage?
- How would that change the vocal risks you took (such as using a loud voice sometimes, or altering your voice to slightly mimic a character’s voice while you told a story, etc.)
- How would it change the way you moved on stage?
- How would it alter your delivery of details that made you feel vulnerable?
- How would you start to look at your audience?
Next time you start to feel nervous about going on stage, and are experiencing the “fight or flight” sensation….remember you can “act as if….”!
It can takes your mind off yourself & your own insecurities…and free you up to focus on those listening…and doing a great job for them!
You’ll notice that as you lean into staying to “fight”, your audience will start to give you the positive feedback boost you need. You get that first laugh, and you start to relax…and find your comfort zone after a minute or two.
Hang in there! You will learn more from “fighting” the fear of the spotlight than refusing to step into it. In the moments where you do something you didn’t think you can… THAT’S when you have a confidence boost as a speaker! I don’t want you to ever miss out on one of those!
Now I want to hear from you, please leave a comment and tell me what you do to relax & calm your nerves before public speaking or getting on stage.