Imagine standing before an audience, larger than your eye can possibly catch, that’s overcome with fascination every time a word passes your lips.
Did that vision terrify you, or seem like an unattainable cloud in the sky?
Using techniques to improve your voice as a speaker is great, but what if the block on your path to pure charisma stemmed from your mind?
Here’s a fact: you’re not alone.
Stage fear, also terrifyingly known as stage phobia, is more common than anyone’s willing to admit. From high-level executives to the fittest athletes, there’s no economic or social boundary to the kind of people who dab their hankies at their foreheads when asked to speak with people looking on.
To get to the root of this fear, you need to know where fear begins from.
Let us tell you this: you’re not afraid of the stage, the board room, the ramp, or the lecture hall. You’re not afraid of the people in them either (though there’s always that scary professor/boss/Uncle Cynic). You’re not even afraid of getting it wrong. What you’re afraid of is the exaggerated, worst-case consequences of getting it wrong.
To be afraid of unknown outcomes is only human, especially when we want that promotion, grade, or appreciation more than anything. We want to get it right. Things don’t always go right for everyone, and it’s scary to realize that it could be us.
Fear in small doses is good. It helps us strive for our goals more or at the very least, survive. But when is it too much?
Some say they’re afraid of committing an error so dreadfully wrong, that they’d never be able to face the world again. This, to many, isn’t an exaggeration or a joke to be laughed at. It is deep-rooted insecurity preventing the best of people from achieving their dreams.
To understand why, if you feel this way, you’ll probably have to relive some traumatic memories. Think of the times you, as a child, did something you wanted to be appreciated for. It could be something as simple as drawing a picture, playing a part in your kindergarten skit, or reciting a poem before the class.
What kind of people surrounded you as a child? Were those who had authority over you, like parents, grandparents, teachers, or your caregiver, supportive of what you had to show? When you tell yourself awful untruths, whose voice do you hear those words in? Your grim aunt or your second-grade teacher who told you you’d never make it? You don’t even have to be a child in your story. It could be your P.E.T. teacher when you were fourteen.
Our inner demons, those voices inside us, are a result, a reflection of what we’ve been through in our past. It’s a pesky little monster that masquerades as the guardian that has your best interests at heart, only trying to keep you safe. Sounds like Mother Gothel from Rapunzel, doesn’t it?
Trauma takes time, effort and forgiveness to unmask and undo. We promise you, it won’t be easy but it’ll sure be worth it.
Still, it looks like some people generally have it easier than the rest of us. Actors, politicians, CEOs, and sports stars make a meme out of themselves one day and seem to move on with their lives the month next. Classmates walk up to random strangers to promote a club and deliver a killer presentation on the same day.
The only thing these people have that you don’t do on the stage is practice. They’ve got practice of speaking the right way and overcoming the limiting beliefs that tell them they can’t do it.
Here’s the billion-dollar question: how do you overcome your limiting beliefs?
Step one, unpack. Unpack those memory boxes that keep playing the unpleasant things that aren’t going to happen. Throw away that voice box that keeps telling you that you can’t do it. Because you sure as heck can. Let that sink in.
Step two, start small. Start singing, joking or pitching before those who love you and are willing to help you grow. Aim for a little more people at your next song or one new stranger every month. Kenny Sebastian didn’t turn into a comedy champ overnight.
Step three, know that if something wrong does happen, you’ll figure out a way to handle it, and it’ll pass. Believe in yourself to do it right and handle the errors.
Step four, everyone is human. This is the most important reminder most of us forget. Most people have the same fears, insecurities and fallibility as you do. No one is out there to judge your mistakes and certainly to remember them, and the few that unfortunately do, have inner work to do themselves. Forgive and embrace yourself for being the human you.
Step five, there’s nothing else. That’s it. Not as simple as it sounds bit not as hard as you think.
We live in a world of opportunities that come with a condition: the need to put yourself out there. The biggest reward comes to the talented loudmouth in the room, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Aural is doing its work by building a stage for you to shine on. The question is, are you ready to own it?
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