Stage Fright is Your Friend
by Joy Jones

Put a pen in your hand and your prose flows. Plop down in front of a computer keyboard and your fingers fly forming remarkable, re-tweetable phrases. With one-on-one conversation you’re wonderful. But ask you to stand in front of an audience? Your brain freezes and your tongue fails.

So what to do about that knee-knocking terror that strikes you when you think about facing an audience?

Well, I’m here to tell you that stage fright is your friend. That uncomfortable, uneasy feeling you get at the prospect of delivering a speech is actually a great thing. Here are a few user-friendly ways to think about stage fright.

Think Power

Usually, just before I have to address an audience, I get an intense, unsettled sensation in my chest. However, whenever anyone asked me if I felt nervous before I had to perform, I always said no. And I was being truthful because I did not think of that sensation as fear. I regarded it as the strength needed to project my voice, remember my lines, focus my attention. Eventually, I realized that what other people called anxiety, I called energy – the positive energy that supplies the oomph you require to deliver your message. So when you feel nervous – think power, not panic.

Think Confidence

You do know that public speaking is the number one fear of most people, don’t you? So any time you stride to the front of the room to speak, you automatically have won the admiration of nearly everyone in the room. They want you to succeed, they know you have got guts. They’ll forgive you if you forget a point or stumble over a word (if they even realize a mistake was made.) You’re doing something they’re too scared to do and they will reward you with applause once you’re done. It’s a win-win proposition for you. So speak up and conquer your FEAR – Face Everyone And Recite.

Think Excitement

What do you use to protect yourself from the rain? An umbrella. What do you use to protect yourself from the sun? A parasol. We think of sunny weather and rainy weather as opposites but we use the same tool in either situation. Only the term used – umbrella vs. parasol – differs. The same could be said of fear and excitement. It’s the same thing but labeled differently depending on the situation.

A scary or suspenseful movie is enjoyable precisely because it is scary. Just as learning to ride a bike, starting a new job, or facing a blank page contains both thrill and risk, so too can we redefine that risky, edgy experience that is public speaking as charming instead of alarming. Stage fright? Nah. Stage excitement.

Take that super but natural energy that you once thought was bad nerves and make it your secret weapon – the sure knowledge that stage fright is your friend.

* * *

Joy Jones is an author, trainer and entertainer. This excerpt is from her upcoming book Stage Fright Is Your Friend: And Other Things You Need to Know About Public Speaking. Visit her website.


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  1. […] has regular, ongoing content, including Q&As; Write On! Wednesdays; Guest Columns – Stage Fright is Your Friend;Steve on Screenwriting: Creating a Contact List; Reviews; and […]

  2. Mary Thomas Newsom 9 years ago

    I always enjoy receiving your newsletter because there are always surprises to be found. The keeper this month for me is the article on Stage Fright, oops, State Excitement! I love the way you re-framed the reader’s thinking. I am a speaker and will always remember this when, even as a seasoned professional, I get the “queeezy” feeling just before I begin. I’ll just think Joy! Energy! Excitement! Use it to my benefit. Thanks for another clear, concise and useful article!

  3. Stanice Anderson 9 years ago

    Great article. Looking forward to your book.

  4. D. A. Isley 9 years ago

    I approve this message. The first time that I spoke in front of an audience, I was scared as crap. Now, I’m only nervous for the first 3-5 minutes then I’m off and running. I can’t shut up.

  5. CarolynM 9 years ago



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