Stage Fright: Live With It as You Cannot Get Rid of It

Pradeep Kumar BStarred Page By Pradeep Kumar B, 16th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/269e2p1s/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

Stage fright is something most of us experience. One cannot get rid of it totally. You can only manage it and keep it from getting the better of you.

I Get My First Chance to Address a Gathering

I had never performed on the stage in my student life. My real test of public speaking came only years after my getting a job. It had been when I was assigned the task of making a speech about electrical safety. The listeners were to be electricians, electrical supervisors and electrical contractors. At first, when I was told about that, I felt a little unsure. I could very well have declined on some excuse.

“Will I be able to make it?” I asked myself.

“Sure, do it my boy. If you lose it, you won’t get another chance. Wasn’t there in your dreams, a picture of you making a public speech?” came the answer from deep inside.

I decided to accept the challenge. My main antagonist would be stage fright. What would it be like? I had never come face to face with it. But I was sure it would be there and I would have to grapple with it on that eventful day to come about.

How My Friend Once Got Knocked Down by Stage Fright

I decided to prepare well for the speech. Should I write everything down and memorize word for word and recall each sentence at the time my speech? No, I am not going to do that. I had seen a friend of mine trying to do that and fail miserably in his attempt, thus making a fool of himself. It happened during my college days. A class mate and friend of mine was elected the chairman of the College Union. Soon he was to be one of the speakers at a public function arranged in the campus. He had no previous experience at public speaking. But he wanted to make it a big occasion.

What did he do? He sought professional assistance and got the entire speech prepared and written down by someone. He then memorized every sentence of it, taking several days for the process. His idea was to recall the speech word by word from memory when he took the stage. As the day of the function dawned, he hoped he would stand out among his fellow speakers and would make the centre of attraction with the fabulous speech he was going to make. But it was not to be.

When he stood up to address the gathering, he became nervous and stage fright conquered him. He uttered one or two sentences and stopped. His memory had betrayed him. The audience could not make out even what it was that he said through the two sentences he could deliver. When they saw the speaker standing there quiet and quite bewildered, they began to jeer and shout. The speaker withdrew and sunk into his chair like humiliation personified. He became the laughing stock of the campus for many days to follow.

My Experience with Stage Fright

Since I had that picture in my mind, I knew that memorizing a talk word for word and trying to recall it when you took the stage would not work. The best strategy would be to have a detailed planning and to note down the points you were going to elaborate on a piece of paper. That paper could be kept with you when you took the stage. It could be referred while you made the speech to ensure nothing was missed out.

I implemented that strategy. I planned the speech well and noted down the important points on a paper. Practiced the whole speech without it being scripted. As regards a strategy to overcome stage fright, I did nothing. I thought I could only face it and see what it was like.

The Day of My First Public Speech

When that day came at last, I was a little nervous of course and there was a little stage fright too. I reached the venue half an hour before time and got familiar with the place. As the time neared, my nervousness and stage fright began to melt down to my great relief. It might be because I realized that there was no escape and I had to face the reality soon.

The function began and I was introduced by somebody. When it was my turn, I got up to address the audience. My mind was empty. I found that my nervousness and stage fright were gone. I started to speak. Before I took the stage I had decided upon what should be my first two or three sentences. I started with those sentences and continued my talk for about an hour. I did not find any difficulty at all. Occasionally I referred the piece of paper on which the points to elaborate on were written. My first public speech ended successfully and I was a very satisfied person.

Over the years that followed, I had many occasions to speak at functions. Every time I experienced some amount of stage fright for sure, but I knew that it would die down when I started the speech. So I tell you there is no need to worry about it.

Your Strategy to Overcome Stage Fright

When we read articles about ways to overcome stage fright, we find a long list of steps to take. I think most of them are unnecessary and impracticable. You need only understand two or three things about stage fright and then you will easily overcome it. Now I am going to tell you what they are.
1. Stage fright is quite common and even the most experienced performer will
experience it every time he is to take the stage. So there is no escape from it and
so add not much importance to it. It will vanish once you deliver the first two or
three sentences of your speech.
2. Don’t script your speech and memorize it word for word. Write down the important
points you are going to elaborate on a piece of paper and keep it with you while
you are on the stage. You can refer the paper while you are delivering the speech
to avoid any omissions. Talk in a casual manner as if you are chatting with your
friends.
3. Reach the venue at least half an hour before time and make yourself familiar with
the atmosphere.


I think if you keep the above three points in mind, you are definitely going to overcome stage fright. Stage fright is something that occurs quite naturally. You won’t be able to avoid a yawn when you get bored or when you are feeling sleepy. Just think stage fright is also like that. When you are about to make a public speech you will have it. Let it be there. It is sure to vanish when you start with your speech, believe me. If you want to learn more about the art of public speaking you can read one of the ever green books of Dale Carnegie titled, The Quick & Easy way to Effective Speaking

Tags

Address A Gathering, Dale Carnegie, Overcome Stage Fright, Pradeep, Pradeep Kumar, Pradeep Kumar B, Public Speaking, Stage Fright, Unscripted Speech, Your Strategy

Meet the author

author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
I live in Tiruvalla, a small town in the state of Kerala, in India. I am an electrical engineer and I love to write.

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Comments

author avatar Buzz
16th Apr 2012 (#)

I had "page fright" when I first submitted an article here almost a year ago, which is natural, I guess.

Well, stage fright can really flatten you onstage because the audience will be all eyes on you. I think you'll have to have "jokes" in your bag to crack if a first timer. But otherwise, great advice, my friend. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
16th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you Buzz for your humorous comment. The 'page fright' as you mentioned is also something real. It delayed my first page for several days. A first timer cracking jokes on the stage can spoil everything as it may fail to go off like when one tries to fire a wet cracker. Cracking jokes is only for the experienced ones.

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author avatar Rathnashikamani
16th Apr 2012 (#)

I think "stage fright" and "page fright" are the similar phobias which everyone experiences during their first time.

Pradeep, you've given me some wonderful tips, and Buzz has given a hilarious quip in his poetic style of humor.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
16th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you Rathna. I value your comments very much. Your writings on Wikinut are inspiration to me.

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author avatar avery sandiego
16th Apr 2012 (#)

Good topic....nice to know about other people's experience with stage fright

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
16th Apr 2012 (#)

Thanks avery. And glad to meet you.

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author avatar Val Mills
16th Apr 2012 (#)

This is a wonderful article with advice on public speaking. I used to have to quite a bit of speaking and joined Toastmasters International to overcome my fears and develop my skills. Well worth while if you have a Toastmasters where you live.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
17th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you Val. Glad to know that you are an experienced public speaker. I don't think Toastmasters are here at this place.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
17th Apr 2012 (#)

I have had no real experience at public speaking. Leave it to politicians to speak without stage fright, as they follow an important rule - audience are a bunch of fools and to be taken lightly! Thanks for sharing your personal experience and the useful tips, Pradeep - siva

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
17th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you Siva, for your comment.

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author avatar Denise O
18th Apr 2012 (#)

Great tips on how to combat stage fright. I too live with stage fright but, I do overcome it. I find being prepared is the key, I still can get nervous but, I then can look down, take a gander at my notes and get back on track. Congrats on the star page, it is well deserved. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
19th Apr 2012 (#)

It is true that one feels stage fright every time he is about to face an audience. Thank you Denise for commenting.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
18th Apr 2012 (#)

Great information..I can not speak in front of a crowd...

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
19th Apr 2012 (#)

You can. You only have to try. Thank you for commenting, Delicia.

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author avatar Funom Makama
22nd Apr 2012 (#)

So so so soooooo true! And what more can I say after reading the beautiful comments which accompany this "Star Worthy" page.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
24th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you for commenting.

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author avatar shallimarRose
27th Apr 2012 (#)

Well written article Pradeep and thank you for the follow. I like your name.. It looks like...
Pray-Deep as in deep in prayer. :) shallimar

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
28th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you for commenting.

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author avatar rarity
29th Apr 2012 (#)

It takes getting used to too. I love being on stage.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
30th Apr 2012 (#)

What you said is true.Thank you rarity, for commenting.

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author avatar Mounika Reddy
6th May 2012 (#)

Great article. True to every bit of it. I too had a lot of stage fear because i was concentrating more on things like, what will be the listeners opinion about me after my speech? Will they ask any questions? If i dont have the answers what will be my situation? After few experiences i realized that i should concentrate only on my topic and gather as much info as possible and as you said once we deliver one or two sentences the flow comes automatically. I also realized that our speech should be like an interaction. Thank you for the useful article.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
6th May 2012 (#)

Thank you Mounika, for commenting.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
25th May 2012 (#)

Lovely item and pretty interesting too, as sometimes I had the same problem too. Thank you friend.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
25th May 2012 (#)

Thank you dear Karim for your comments.

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author avatar D in The Darling
26th May 2012 (#)

Right on point. This is all about it. The eager heart gets too eager to perform and the fear of failure becomes even bigger within.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
27th May 2012 (#)

Thank you.

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