Overcoming Stage Fright

JEFF SMITH
Motivational Speaker, Business Speaker,Trainer, #1 Best Selling Author on…

One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “Do you get nervous about speaking on stage?” My answer is an emphatic, “No I don’t”, but please let me explain why.

The first question I ask the people who ask me this question is, “Why should you be afraid of public speaking?” and most people say they’re afraid of making a mistake, or they’re afraid they’ll forget what to say, or they’re afraid that someone will ask them a question they can’t answer. Then it’s plain to see that they’re not afraid of speaking but rather they’re afraid of the consequences of speaking if things go wrong; this is a very important distinction and here’s why.

The photograph at the top of the page is the stage in Italy for the IBIS Global Summit where something in the order of 500 people will be in attendance on the following day. Here’s why I wasn’t at all nervous, but instead very excited to speak at this event.

20 reasons why I wasn’t nervous about speaking.

1) I was booked to speak at this event 6 months before it took pace.

2) I communicated with the Event Team to obtain their requirements for every aspect so I could make their life as easy as possible to make the event happen.

3) I communicated with the Event Moderator who was to introduce me on stage so he knew the content of my keynote presentation and we talked through several times how we were going to work together on the day of the event.

4) I had a number of weeks to tailor-make a bespoke presentation for the event so it was specific and meaningful to the audience.

5) I created the presentation in PowerPoint and submitted it to the event team 1 month ahead of the event so they had plenty of time to make any changes that may be necessary.

6) The Audio/Visual Team have the PowerPoint weeks before the event so they can merge it with the other presentations in the conference centre.

7) I spoke with the presenter who was speaking after me so that we didn’t have any conflicting or overlapping information in our presentations.

8) I arrived at the event 1 day early for rehearsals to run through everything to ensure it all went smoothly.

9) As you can see for the photograph at the top of the page, the presentation screen is ultra, ultra wide and my PowerPoint format didn’t fit. Disaster time, my presentation looked awful.

10) The Event Manager said they’ll sort it out and make it fit because they have to do it for everyone, we’re all in the same boat. I said no problem, I change it all myself right now to save you the time so you can go work on something else more important.

11) I spent 2 hours reformatting the whole presentation to fit the mega wide screen.

12) I then spent some time with the video guys and the photographers to understand what they want to achieve and to understand the shots they want so I could give them what they needed.

13) I then spent some time getting to know the Audio Visual Team at the back of the room and to get fitted with the microphone and do a sound check. I also wanted to understand how they work and what they want so I could accommodate their needs when the event goes live the next day.

14) I stood at the back of the room and cycled through every single slide of my presentation on the main screen to make sure the people furthest away could read every word of text on screen.

15) Once I was completely satisfied that all was 100% ready and good to go, I went for a shower then had dinner with the CEO of IBIS and talked through the main points of the conference to ensure my message made the maximum impact for everyone.

16) A clear head, an early night and a good night’s sleep before getting up early morning on the day of the event, going to the conference room to run through everything all over again; I wanted to ensure everything is perfect.

17) I had a further chat with the Conference Moderator who was to introduce me and we worked through everything once more and discussed the timings for “Question Time”. We also discussed how to award the prize to the person with the best question.

18) An announcement came through the speakers to call everyone from the coffee area into the main conference room – The huge doors opened, I could hear the hustle and bustle of the crowd entering the room and the event is now going live. It’s showtime.

19) I took my place in the seat that was allocated for me and I sat there quietly looking at the agenda and the running order of the event.

20) When everyone was seated, the music started blared out loud, the huge video screens came to life and the CEO walked onto the stage to give his welcome speech. We have lift off – WOW what a feeling.

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention…

A little later I was called to the stage to give a speech called “How To Make More Profit And Keep It”. Was I nervous? No absolutely not because I’d spent so much time on preparation. I’d thought about everything that could go wrong and I’d taken every step to ensure I’d done everything within my power to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. The only thing left to do was to enjoy this magnificent event and I did.

“Amateurs practise until they get it right. Professionals practise until they can’t get it wrong”

The secrets to overcoming stage fright

1) Only speak about subjects upon which you are an expert. If you’re not sure about the subject, then you deserve to be nervous.

2) Be meticulous with your preparation. When you think you’ve done it all, do it again.

3) Speaking on stage is the very small tip of the iceberg. Make sure you’re easy to work with and make life as easy as possible for the Event Team.

4) If anything does go wrong on stage, no one will know.

As a Keynote Speaker, I’m the main event for the audience when I’m speaking, but that’s only for an hour or so. For the rest of the time, I’m part of the Event Team and pretty low down the pecking order. My job is to make life easy for everyone in the team because staging a big event like this is a huge responsibility. I’m quite sure that the IBIS Team at this event were far more nervous than me when I was speaking because there’s so much work that goes into making things happen.

The IBIS Global Summit 2019 in Italy was one of the most well organised and most professional events I’ve ever attended in my 30 years as a Professional Speaker and I wish to thank Team IBIS for accommodating me and making me part of the family; I feel truly blessed.