Musicians, actors, magicians, politicians, and trainers all have one thing in common: performing in public. Stage fright is a workplace hazard for these people!

While there are many causes of stage fright, one of the most common is a lack of self-confidence. This anxiety is often caused by thinking you will forget what you want to say or that the audience will not like your performance.

For trainers, a little bit of stage fright is good — that nervous energy can be translated into enthusiasm when under the spotlight. I know this is easier said than done (one of my colleagues had to rush to the bathroom before every class during his entire first year of teaching because he was so nervous!)

To help deal with stage fright, it’s important to understand the chemistry of it. When we’re faced with a scary situation (like speaking in public), our body releases adrenaline. A recent Harvard Business School study found that telling yourself you were excited was more successful than trying to calm yourself down before taking center stage. Trying to calm down tries to repress the adrenaline and it has no place to go. It is much easier to transfer it to excitement!

There are some other things that trainers can do to minimize stage fright:

  • Prepare for your big moment on stage, especially the first five minutes (the most stressful part). Knowing that you will be successful will give you the confidence that you need to beat stage fright and speak in public like a pro.
  • Concentrate on your message, not yourself. You have something to say that is valuable and that the audience will want to hear.
  • Connect with your audience right away. Smile, greet people, let them know you are happy to be there to talk to them. You may not feel it right then, but you definitely will once you’ve finished!
  • Don’t dwell on what could go wrong. Think about how you are adding value to people’s lives. Your story makes their story richer.
  • If you are still bothered by what could happen, visualize things that could go wrong and develop ways that you can cope with them. Rehearse those scenarios so you feel confident you can get through them.

Finally, always remember that people are not there to see you — they’re there to hear your message! Happy training!