Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stage Fright: Effective Energy

Do you experience stage fright before an important presentation or speech? If your answer is "yes," good! First of all, you're not alone. Secondly, your nerves can actually help you become a more effective speaker.

Over the years I've done thousands of seminars, sales presentations, speeches, and live radio and television appearances—and I still experience stage fright. I get butterflies in my stomach, sweat on my palms, and shortness of breath every time. I welcome them as signs that my energy level is going to be high—I want the extra energy that comes from an attack of stage fright.

Stage fright is your friend—all you have to do is control it. The first step is to recognize the symptoms as nothing more than a small rush of adrenaline. The next step is to make a conscious choice to focus your excess energy on the presentation you’re going to make.

To control the intensity of your stage fright symptoms before your presentation, take the physical edge off them by doing some simple isometric exercises. Press your palms together—hard—for thirty seconds. Grip the arms of your chair as hard as you can for another half minute. This will burn off some of that excess adrenaline in your system while leaving you the energy you need to convey enthusiasm.

Now take a couple of deep, long breaths, using your diaphragm to fill your lungs completely. Let each breath out slowly to a count of ten. This will steady your voice and make you ready for a powerful opening statement.

Your stage fright has now become a reservoir of energy that you can tap into when you need it. You’ll find that you’re better focused and your presentation will be much more dynamic. You’ve made stage fright your friend.

Public speaking isn’t everyone’s forte, but most gallery owners are like Theresa Abel, owner of The Artisan Gallery in Belleville, Wisconsin who says, “I love talking to people about the work if they’re really interested.” She suggests turning that skill into group presentations because, “It’s good for business because the more information and knowledge you give your customers, the more they appreciate it and the more they want to own a piece and take it home.”

Catherine Bert, owner of Bert Gallery in Providence, RI, takes it a step further: “People are very intimidated by the art world. They feel they are unprepared to experience the visual arts and this is breaking down those barriers. We introduce people in very non-threatening ways to the visual arts.” The result is good for everybody concerned. “They fall in love with what I have been in love with for many years: creative minds and looking at ideas and objects in the world from different artists’ perspectives.”

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for small business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, hiring, firing, and motivating personnel, financial management, and business strategy.

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