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A Presentor's Greatest Fear
by Andrew E. Schwartz

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Many presentors, especially relative novices, find their situation unknown and frightening. Although they have rehearsed their presentation and their notes are organized, as they are about to step up to the podium they are so overcome by nervousness that it affects their performance. In short, they are suffering from “stage fright”.

Most presentors experience some form of stage fright when facing a live audience for the first time. A presentor who doesn’t is in a very small minority among professionals and amateurs alike. Few presentors, even those who deal with audiences daily, ever completely overcome it. Most professional performers freely admit to “pre-opening jitters” .It would not be beneficial to completely overcome such feelings, for two reasons. First, it helps to maintain a certain amount of tension. Humans perform better when they are “keyed up” a bit, so long as the tension doesn’t interfere with normal functioning and operation. Second, a complete absence of such tension can result in laxness, or even an attitude of condescension toward an audience—which is just as bad as stage fright. The trick is to find and strike the happy medium between too much and too little tension. Controlled tension is power.

Franklin Roosevelt’s famous dictum “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” applies here. A fear which is brought out into the light of day, squarely faced and dissected is already half-defeated.

There are many reasons for stage fright. In most cases, it is due to insufficient preparation, fear of failure, or lack of self-motivation. Fortunately, there are various strategies for overcoming it. First, understand the anatomy behind stage fright. Then learn how to convert it into “delivery energy” by understanding and utilizing the power of self-motivation.

The Anatomy of Stage Fright: The first step you should take in dealing with stage fright is to be aware that all of your emotional drives are shared by your audience. Everyone needs recognition, acceptance, and approval. Knowing and understanding this improves your chances of controlling yourself in front of others, and thereby controlling your audience.


Andrew E. Schwartz, CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates of Boston, MA a comprehensive management training and professional development organization offering over 40 skills specific programs and practical solutions to today's business challenges.

Copyright, AE Schwartz & Associates. All rights reserved.
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