By Samantha Hager

The ability to speak confidently and engage an audience is something that every business leader should learn in order to be more successful in their endeavors. Although you may not serve as the face of your brand, as a leader, you must be capable of captivating your team and customers and showing confidence and strength even in the face of adversity. 

As Plato once said, “Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men.” As such, speaking with conviction is one of the best ways to assure your authority and grow your network and audience flawlessly. However, no one ever said speaking with confidence, especially on a stage, was an easy feat. But, with some simple strategies and a better understanding of the cause of your ‘stage fright,’ you can enter 2023 with a far better plan to control a room, engage the right people at any event, and earn the respect of your crew and customers in no time. 

stage fright

What is ‘stage fright,’ and why does it occur?

According to Choosing Therapy, “Stage fright is a type of anxiety that describes feeling anxious when speaking or performing in front of a group of people. It isn’t just limited to literal stages. In general, stage fright is a colloquial term used to describe performance anxiety, presentation anxiety, or the fear of public speaking.”

The main cause of this fear in the average individual is adrenaline. As Choosing Therapy elaborates, “During the fight-or-flight response, the amygdala sends the stress response throughout the body, which stimulates epinephrine (commonly known as adrenaline). This adrenaline accounts for the physiological symptoms experienced during stage fright.”

Essentially, we trigger the feeling within ourselves when we begin to feel overwhelmed, crowded, or ‘on the spot’ in a large crowd. As such, any steps we can take to mitigate this feeling of anxiety and ‘fight or flight’ is the key to overcoming stage fright and the fear of public speaking altogether. 

And, while there are many ways to do this, below are eight of the best and recurring strategies found in article after article online for overcoming this troublesome obstacle as a cleaning or restoration industry leader. 

audience strategies public speaking

8 ways to overcome your fear that aren’t just ‘picturing people in their underwear’

Although we’ve all probably heard the advice of ‘picturing the audience in their underwear’ to loosen up when speaking in front of a crowd, there are so many other strategies that are not as often recommended but sure to help tremendously. With that being said, here are eight of the best and most highly proven methods for overcoming the fear of public speaking just in time for the new year. 

1. Take a public speaking course online

There are hundreds of online public speaking courses to choose from, and all of them are a great way to work with trained experts o your inflection, organization, speaking voice, confidence, and charisma when speaking to others on stage or off. To help you find the right course, here is a great list of some of the best public speaking courses online to choose from. 

2. Practice in front of friends and family

Another great way to become more accustomed to public speaking is to practice your speeches and communication skills with your friends and family. This will help you to build your confidence and also be prepared for any speaking situation that may come your way in 2023. As you become more confident in front of a smaller crowd, continue to add to this group until you are finally able to speak in front of a large room with the same comfort and confidence you exude in front of your loved ones. 

3. Be prepared and organized

One of the main causes of ‘stage fright’ and fear of public speaking deals with a feeling of unpreparedness that enhances the anxiety and adrenaline within us. Fortunately, learning to be incredibly prepared and organized for every speaking engagement can help mitigate these feelings and give you infallible confidence as a result. To help prepare for a speaking event or networking conference, try taking a look at this guide to preparation and organization

4. Try only memorizing the key points

There’s a reason why not everyone can be an actor. It all comes down to the fact that most people, when memorizing something word-for-word and reiterating it to a crowd, tend to sound ‘fake’ and ‘scripted.’ When memorizing entire speeches, you run the risk of not only forgetting key points in exchange for the more simple words but also running the risk of seeming disingenuous to those you are presenting to or leading. 

Instead, one thing that many famous public speakers and business leaders utilize to their advantage is the ‘key points’ memorization method where you only memorize the most important parts of your speech and then use your own genuine voice and personality to drive the rest of the conversation. This helps you to remember everything, seem more ‘real,’ and feel less stressed when talking to a large crowd. 

5. Make sure you’re passionate about the topic

Although this point may seem rather obvious, oftentimes, leaders speak on ‘boring’ subjects that their companies expect them to share with the masses at conferences, tradeshows, and networking events worldwide. Having said this, try to find angles in each of your speeches that spark passion, energy, and excitement. This will help you to speak with conviction, never run out of things to say, and know how to answer any audience questions with poise. 

6. Focus on a few singular points around the room

Instead of picturing the audience naked, try taking a moment to find a few key points at varying spots around the room instead to focus on them while you speak. While they can certainly be the walls or chairs in the crowd, you can even take it one step further and choose to focus on the center of audience members’ foreheads as, from afar, this will make you appear as though you are staring at them straight in the eyes when you are not. 

7. Harness your nervous energy for charisma

While it may seem counterproductive at first glance, the truth is that your nervous energy can actually be used as a great way to connect with your audience, seem excited, and turn that adrenaline into passion and charisma during your speech. You can even admit you’re a bit nervous at the start of your speech to garner some sympathy and seem more ‘down-to-earth’ to the crowd likewise. After all, who doesn’t know what it’s like to feel nervous during major moments in their life? 

8. Use tools/strategies to enhance your presentation

Lastly, what many people forget when speaking at events or to their teams is that they have control over their outer appearance and the tools they use to help them succeed. For instance, using PowerPoint, videos, sound effects, music, colorful outfits, and confident hand motions all can help you to exude confidence, engage the audience, and leave a lasting impression on those that see you speak every time. 

A good example of this can be seen with Reggie Watts’ iconic TEDTalk. While it may be a bit over the top, it shows exactly the kind of fun and humor that can help engage a crowd and make you, the speaker, seem excited and confident in the process. 

With these exciting new strategies ready to be tested out, we recommend giving them a go at one of the first networking events of the year, the Andrew Äsk Building Science Symposium in Naples, Florida from January 24-25, 2023. There, you can speak to others in your industry, test out your public speaking tools, and build upon your newfound confidence in a fun and engaging environment surrounded by your peers.  While it may be the first event of the year, you can be sure to have far more events ahead in 2023 as well to truly test your grit, confidence, and charisma in every setting. For now, as Zig Ziglar once said, “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”