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How to Combat Stage Fright

Aside from the standard advice of how to overcome stage fright, you know the kind:

  • Picture your audience naked (terrible advice)…
  • Rehearse your presentation…
  • Don’t think about what can go wrong…

There is one piece of advice that I rarely hear taught, but is perhaps the most powerful way of overcoming your fear of public speaking.

Fear of Public Speaking

Jerry Seinfeld says, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. 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.”

The best way to overcome the fear of public speaking – whether standing on stage in front of a large audience, delivering an important boardroom presentation, or pitching a prospective new client – make it about them.

So many of us – naturally – focus on ourselves when delivering a speech. We think:

  • I hope I don’t mess this up.
  • I hope I know these numbers.
  • I could have rehearsed this a little more.
  • What if they already know this?
  • What if they think I am a fraud?

Instead, reframe your worries into statements that put the focus where it should be:

  • How can I best help this audience understand the topic?
  • What questions will they have, and how can I best alleviate their reservations?

Your biggest worry when speaking in public should be: am I serving them best?

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