Sweaty palms, shivering legs, cold sweating, dried throat, blurred vision and woozy head- Don’t be alarmed readers; I’m not describing the symptoms of low blood pressure or any related disease, I’m talking about the most common phobia that each one of us has faced at some point of time in their lives- STAGE FRIGHT.
Yes, be it common people or high profile celebrities, all have been the victims of this fear. The idea of being alone on a stage and hundreds of eyes staring at you petrifies everyone. Even ace performers like Jim Carrey, Hrithik Roshan, Rowan Atkinson, Farhan Akhtar, Rihana etc. have been scared of facing audience. But what made them overcome this mammoth fear, what is that magic potion which could make them fearless and set the stage on fire?
Well there’s no magic potion which can cure stage fear, even Harry potter could not invent it. The only way to overcome your fear of Public speaking is to face it. Understanding the root cause of the fear and then eliminating it step by step is the strategy which the above mentioned people practiced.
So let’s begin by knowing what all negative thoughts that come to our mind when we have to come on stage and ways to make those negative thoughts positive.
I CAN’T DO THIS!!
The very first thought that comes to a person’s mind when asked to go on stage is, “I can’t do this”. “I’m too scared and nervous. It seems I have a pit in my stomach. I feel nauseous. So many people are there, no way.” It’s a common tendency among people that if given a chance to go or not to go on stage, people will choose the latter one. If they have an option to avoid going on stage, they’ll happily do that. But let’s imagine a situation when a hooligan has pointed a gun at your parents and threatens you to go on stage and says if you don’t go on stage, he’ll shoot your parents. Each one will go on stage without even thinking for a fraction of second. But why, why will everyone go on stage in the above mentioned situation because the lives of their loved ones are at stake and they don’t have another option. Yes, very correct there isn’t any option. You all have to understand avoiding public speaking isn’t an option in the real world because every profession requires you to be good at public speaking. How would you teach a class full of students, how would you put forward you points in a board meeting, how would you give a presentation to a client, if you avoid public speaking? So remember “I CAN’T DO IT” is not an option.
SO MANY EYES
Okay so after reading the first point, I might have convinced a few readers to face their fear or give public speaking a shot. But the moment a person steps on stage or thinks beyond the ‘I can’t do it trauma’; the second thought that haunts a person’s mind is “SO MANY EYES LOOKING AT ME”. Even imagining this scene makes a person’s intestines twist and turn in the stomach. Again negativity shadows the brain that I can’t even make a proper eye contact with a single person with confidence how will I face the gaze of 100-200 people? For this I want to ask you all, isn’t this exactly what we all want? Don’t we want that people should look at us, identify us from the crowd or recognize our talent? Don’t we want the interviewers, our bosses, teachers to look at us and appreciate us? So why fear this? Hardly people get this opportunity; maximum time people spend their whole life being the part of a crowd, the rat race and perish. I don’t think we all would like that. So let the eyes look at you and see how deserving and wonderful you are.
WHAT IF I FORGET?
Once we have overcome the above two fears, the next and the most common dialogue which people use to shirk from public speaking is, “What if I forget the content?” or “When I go on stage I forget what I am supposed to speak”. For this I would say, it’s okay even if you forget. That’s very human. Our brain is not like the hard disc of computer, we forget things. To avoid this you can write down whatever you want to speak and just read it for the initial couple of your performances, nobody is going to sue you for reading the content out of your notes. Because even if you’ve read it, you have faced your fear and every time you’ll gain confidence bit by bit and will be soon able to learn and deliver what you want to express in front of large audiences with confidence.
PUBLIC SPEAKING DOESN’T COME NATURALLY TO ME
A lot of people have this notion that all the good orators and public speakers are born with the genes of public speaking and it’s what they do naturally. Introvert and shy people tend to accept this fact that since they are not so confident they can never do public speaking and this is not natural to them. They lack the confidence and the X factor which other people possess so it’s not possible for them to become public speakers ever. Well, this is the biggest myth and the biggest blunder too. Even catching a disease is a natural process, so why people go to the doctor and get the treatment done. People should let themselves suffer and may be die too. No people want to cure themselves and reach a better and a healthy state. Same goes with public speaking, nobody is born with it. It doesn’t come naturally to anyone. One has to acquire it with time and with practice nail it. Would you not like to become a better and a more skilled person? Would you always live with the regret of being a good for nothing? I don’t think so. We all want to remove this fear, so better start with the treatment.
I’M NOT CONFIDENT ENGLISH SPEAKER
Let me correct you all here, public speaking is not restricted to English. People are not judging you for that; they would be judging you on your confidence. Even if you deliver simple text, how confidently and with how much conviction you do it, becomes the game changer. And English you all are improving at ACL, so you’ll perfect that also with time. Even if you commit a mistake, it’ll not be the headlines of the next day’s newspaper. People will forget it. But if you give up and don’t perform just because of all these futile reasons, you’ll always live with this guilt throughout your life.
And finally I’d like to conclude by saying; people usually tend to take short term consequences over long term consequences. The short term consequence is the goof ups you may commit during the performance and the fear of that makes you give up. But we all ignore the long term consequence, giving up that time will give you a lifelong saddening feeling of being a quitter and not being able to be confident like other people or losing a golden opportunity because somebody else seized it and you held back. So break all these shackles which are holding you back. You all have it in you and you all can do it. When you go on stage, clench your fist and pump up yourself and say it out loud in your head- I CAN DO IT. LOOK AT ME PEOPLE. I’M HERE TO PERFORM AND I WILL NOT GIVE UP!!!
Shaikh Uzma Jamal