We’ve all been there: that heart pounding, hand-shaking, holy s+*# moment as we stand up to present, sing, debate, or even eulogize in public. And yes, we all know that too much stage fright can derail a potentially great performance. But before I continue, it’s important to stress that a little “agita” is very helpful. It provides a sharper focus and enables our authenticity to shine through. The opposite of stage fright is not confidence. The opposite is unemotional. It’s the Terminator.
I decided to write this post after a tough coaching session with a client who is spitting mad at his boss right now. For 70 straight minutes he tried to prove why he was right and his boss was wrong. For my part, I tried to help him see the bigger picture and to focus on his ultimate goal, which is to get a promotion. After the session, when I was mulling over my batting average, I was reminded, yet again, of the lesson we must all learn: instead of trying to be right, we should try to be of value.
That’s the secret to eliminating stage fright. Instead of worrying about all the mistakes you might make, think instead about the fact that you have something valuable to offer. You may be an expert on your topic.You may be the most inspiring singer even if you are not the most technically gifted singer (Maria Callas comes to mind). You may have the most important message to share and everyone who listens will be better off for having heard it.
The secret sauce of poised performance is to shift your mental focus from needing to be [fill in the blank] to wanting to be helpful or inspirational or knowledgeable, or even just positive. Don’t you think your audience would appreciate it?
“You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant?”
– Dr. Seuss
Here’s to you hitting it out of the park.