Are you afraid of the Stage???

Resham (Carpe Diem !!!) (6535 Points)

29 May 2011  




“According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” - Jerry Seinfeld


Does the paper in your hand, while you give the speech, start shaking madly as if it had been cursed by Professor Snape ( Harry Potter fame) ... or do you feel that you are struck by obliviate charm (Memory loss charm) by Lockhart as soon as you step on the stage....??? or are your prying eyes searching for the podium as soon as you come to know that you have to give a speech...??? (to hide your trembling feet of course...)


Just read the above questions and very honestly answer yourself...


If the answer to the above questions is in affirmation... oh my my... you are suffering from a grave disease... and it’s known as... “STAGE FEAR”

We are in such profession when at any hour we might need to give a presentation...and at that point of time... if you are going to fumble, then it is going to be a serious impediment not only for your career... but also for your personal development.


So... why not tackle this problem down...


What actually prevents us from speaking???

          Is it really the fear of making a mistake, lack of vocabulary, fear of lack of knowledge, or even the fear of facing tomatoes in the face...??? (Don’t worry... this rarely happens...he he) Any of the above, be the case... just heave a deep sigh of relief, because all this situations are just slaps on the wrist and can easily be controlled.

But of course like every great achievement in this world... the art of public speaking can’t be learnt in a day or two... this is where ‘Patience and perseverance’ plays an important role. Not allowing people to scare and intimidate you is truly the number one rule; not only in public speaking, but even more so in life!



The problems faced:

Ø Loss of memory: You have prepared your speech with all the concentration in the world and even rehearsed it in front of family and friends many a times... you go on the stage... and “PHAT” everything you had read, studied, learnt, mugged up, disappears in thin air... George Jessel has depicted this in these words... The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.”


Ø Trembling hands and legs: Phew... now this is a really scary one... dreadful, something that can ruin the best of speeches and fill the hall with an uproar of laughter in which everyone except you will be laughing ( of course you can convert whole of this situation to your advantage.. but patience... read on... you’ll find out)


Ø Nervousness: Hmm.... this can easily be depicted by stammering while speaking, sweat dripping from your forehead, etc.


Ø Vocabulary and diction errors: This can seriously hamper your speech and create an image that you are not having in-depth knowledge of even the language in which you want to converse and can divert the attention of the audience from the topic of the speech encouraging them to indulge in finding your grammatical-diction errors.


Preparing a speech!!!

“If you want to be an orator, first get your great cause” ~ Wendell Phillips


          Now that’s where most of us lack... Not knowing what to talk about, and still wanting to talk about just everything under the sun... ha ha!

Just like before going for an audit, an auditor is required to plan out his audit programme very well... so is the necessity for a speaker to have a thought out and planned talk. If you are unsure of what you are thinking, it will possibly reflect much more loudly in your words... and you don’t want that...!!!

The below three things can easily and effectively guide and direct you to the making and delivering of an effective speech...

There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience. - Alexander Gregg


Take your time:

     But I... never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it.  ~Mark Twain

   ‘course this won’t be possible enough when you are to speak extempore... but if you have time... use it, and use it well. Don’t be bogged down at the fact that you are taking an awful lot of time that is way too much... Try, Try and you’ll be at it... preparing better in time less than your last attempt.


Before the speech:

Have a strong, persistent desire:

Now it is up to you whether you want your desire to be pale or you want it to be like a Tom chasing Jerry... persistent, energetic and a never ending chase...

Just think of all the additional benefits and the ability to talk more convincingly in public will mean to you. Be it in financial or social terms... or even the personal satisfaction that it will lead to...


Act Confidently:

Professor William James wrote as follows... “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling which is not.”

To develop courage when you are facing the audience, act as if you already had it. Ofcourse, unless you are prepared, all the acting in the world will avail but little. But, assuming that you are prepared, step out briskly ad take a deep breath. In fact, breathe deeply for thirty seconds before you face the audience. This increased oxygen supply will fill you with the needed courage.


Practice! Practice! Practice! :

The never failing way to delivering a perfect speech is to practice speaking... It is the only way one can leave fear behind and speak confidently in front of the audience. If possible, reach your venue before time, have a few rounds around the stage to be well acquaint with the atmosphere. But for this make sure that you aren’t against the clock. Don’t be afraid of being afraid. If you are continually under the fright that you might have ‘Buck Fever’ that fear itself will lead to it... try to remain as composed as you can.


During the speech:


·         Take very good care of your body language. Walk upright, look into your audience’s eyes and begin to talk as if every one of them owed you money. Imagine that they do. "Remember rule number one: don't let them scare you!"


·       Do not nervously button unbutton your coat, or keep on playing with your shirt cuffs or (for girls) don’t play or twist your dupatta! If you must do something to remove the anxiety, place your hands behind your back and twist your fingers, or wiggle your toes.


·       Don’t try to hide behind the furniture... Don’t try, JUST DO IT. He he... No really... when you are trying to hide your legs behind the podium to prevent your shaking legs being seen... You are bound to make some awkward movements. Rather stand behind it, develop poise, and be confident... once you are a bit comfortable, take a round around the stage while speaking and then slowly and steadily... abandon the podium for good...



     Humour is the salt of any speech. It can add flavor to the dumbest and most boring speeches. That’s what Herbert Gardner said... “Once you get people laughing, they're listening and you can tell them almost anything.”

 But all said and done, be very sure that you don’t overdo it.


Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent:

     Don’t get caught in the habit of making things up while speaking and saying just anything that comes to your mind. (this happens the most in extempore) If it’s all greek to you... so will it be to others... then you can’t blame the audience being disinterested!!!

His speeches left the impression of an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea.  ~Author Unknown


Use of Flash cards:

These come in more handy than paper sheets. It is best if you can deliver the whole speech all by yourself but still you can always jot down some important points and see to it that all are covered. But one word of caution: Don’t look at the cards in a manner which seems to others as if you are cheating in some exams in which there is vigilant supervision ( take foe instance our CA exams) no need to make awkward postures and glancing at one of the cards and then acting that YEAH... I knew this point.... come on, you are just ensuring that you don’t miss something... don’t be shy, do it with utmost confidence....after all, its just an Aide-mémoire


Always be shorter than anybody dared to hope:

     You don’t want the audience look into your eyes red-eyed... oh.. then it’s upto you not to make that happen. I still remember one instance when one of the chief guests was called upon to say ‘Two Words’ and oh my my... those were really two words... He said everything he ought to say (not wanted to say) but there, he hit the right cord. He just was brief and completed with everyone listening to him in rapt attention... As Dorothy Sarnoff puts it... Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening. Be Specific, be brief and stop beating around the bush.


His speeches to an hour-glass

Do some resemblance show

Because the longer time they run

The shallower they grow.


Take Pauses:

     Don’t go on accelerating your speed of a speaking with no break (brake) in between... coz the audiences’ mind isn’t a highway... it’s a small dusty road... taking right pauses at the right time gives you some scope of thinking and also the audience to digest all that you have already said.



How to NOT let the audience yawn in your face:

          As simple as that... don’t look at them!!! ha ha...

          Obviously we can’t do that...though i have seen some people look at the ceiling at give a speech giving us a weary feeling that there are some secret writings there which only we can’t see... Nay... there are some witty things to say to fill in the vacuum and get the audience more attentive than ever before...


o   [intro] I’ll begin by telling you what a remarkable person our speaker is. Then I’ll describe all the wonderful things he’s done for the community. And I’ll conclude by saying some things that are true.

o   [small crowd] I forgot to bring something with me—my audience.

o   [Mic problem] This microphone is like my wife: it won’t let me speak

o   And if anybody out there doesn't know what I'm talking about, then you must know how I feel!

o   [If you’re short] I’m short, but I compensate—by making my speeches long.

o   [Flowery intro] Thank you for that wonderful introduction. I wish I could figure out who you have me confused with.

o   [hot room] I haven't sweated this much since my tax audit.

o   Now I'd like to open the floor to questions. And since they never get a chance to speak, why don't we start with the married men?

o   [Trembling legs] oh gosh, maybe I think of you all as dinosaurs... no wonder my legs are shaking...!!!



A Few words for the listeners: It’s not always the responsibility of the speakers to perpetually please you... You can also be comforting and patronizing towards the speakers and make them feel at home so that they can give their best... after all.... who knows, tomorrow the tables might turn... and you will be there on the stage... fumbling and trembling... how nice it would be if someone gave a helping hand !!!

“It is a thing of no great difficulty to raise objections against another man's oration,--nay, it is a very easy matter; but to produce a better in its place is a work extremely troublesome.” ~ Plutarch