“I don’t know why. But all of a sudden, I’ve started getting nervous when I speak. I’ve been speaking for 20 years and I’ve always done fine. Suddenly, however, nerves have taken over and it is scaring me.”
Those are the words of a senior executive at a Fortune 100 company, who recently asked Speechworks for help in getting over stage fright.
Our coach’s response? “Do you ever rehearse your presentations?”
When this executive said “No” it was immediately clear what had to be done. He needed to begin rehearsing his presentations like crazy. By that we mean 10 to 15 times. Nothing is more consistently effective in helping people deal with stage fright than rehearsing a presentation until you know it so well that you could do it if a bomb went off.
The rehearsal won’t necessarily eliminate all the butterflies. But it will build your confidence so that will come across as confident and poised.
To be sure, the coach could have dealt with this executive by analyzing what has changed recently in his business (and several things had changed) and how that might have impacted how he sees himself as a presenter. But we’re not shrinks. All we know is that if you practice your presentations like hell, you’ll reduce your anxiety.
The story has a happy ending. This executive had a big presentation the next week before about 200 employees. This is the exact type of situation that suddenly started making him nervous. He rehearsed his 15-minute presentation about 10 times.
Our coach sent him an e-mail asking him how the presentation went.
His terse response?
“I nailed it.”