You’ve finished your first speech.
How are you feeling?
You didn’t die. You might not have done as well as you liked. You might think that you didn’t do as well as I would have liked.
Did you choke? Did stage fright take over?
Stage fright is normal. Your body reacts to stress in certain particular ways – stage fright is what we call those reactions you have when you have to address a crowd.
Here’s the usual list:
- palms wet
- can’t breathe
- knees knocking
- need to pee
- throat closes up
- dry mouth
If by chance I skipped one of yours, don’t worry. Just because it’s not there, that doesn’t mean it’s not real.
Everyone has their own reaction to stage fright
You have your own unique blend of stage fright symptoms. That’s why we have to find the stage fright symptoms that are the worst for you and work on those.
Work on those???
Many stage fright symptoms have no treatment other than experience and confidence. But for one of them, we have some fixes.
It seems normal to drink during a presentation if your throat gets dry. It’s normal, but that doesn’t help, because you’re treating the symptom, not the stress reaction. The real reaction you’re facing is a kind of dehydration. Waiting until you’re in a panic on stage to take a drink is waiting too long. You need to drink something about an hour before your speech so your body has plenty of fluids to start with. There’s a delicate balance between just enough and too much. You’ll figure it out personally, but if you’ve got a make a mad dash to the bathroom just before your presentation, then that was probably too much water. About a liter bottle of water finished about an hour before the speech, works for me. We’re going to find out what works for you.
The Green Apple Solution
This has probably been around since before the time of Shakespeare. Eat a green apple before you go onstage. Why green? Because they’re the tartest apple out there. You don’t want sweet. You want something bordering on sour.
Eating the apple’s will stimulate several parts of your mouth and nose in positive ways.
- The act of chewing makes stretches your face and tongue, getting you ready to speak clearly.
- The smell of the apple makes your nose and sinuses start to work. Getting the mucous out of your nose will eliminate some of the coughing or annoying sinus drainage during your speech.
- The apple’s tartness activates your salivary glands. It’s almost impossible to have a dry mouth after eating a green apple.
The best cure for stage fright is practice and present. When you know your material and how you want to present it, you’ll have less stage fright. But it doesn’t always solve the problem. People have gotten stage fright years after they’ve been performing on the stage in front of thousands of people. Barbra Streisand was an award-winning Broadway actress who developed stage fright years after she’d become a professional actress and singer. Others have come down with stage fright years later.
I know that I’ve had stage fright when I had to deliver bad news in a speech. I’d have stage fright when I had to get up and speak in front of five people. There’s no explanation. It comes and goes. What I know now is how to deal with it, instead of letting it stop me from speaking.
Tell me about how you felt after you were done speaking today. (Fifty words minimum.)