How do you overcome stage fright?

Shark K. ‏@SharkHacks: You do lots of speaking engagements and go on TV and shows. How do you overcome stage fright? #QA


I have to give a talk on Saturday in Las Vegas. It’s to a sort of audience I’ve never had the opportunity to speak in front of before. And despite my own advice that I give on this post (11 Unusual Methods of Being a Great Public Speaker), I have no idea yet what I want to talk about. The guy running the conference told me I could talk about whatever I want. I have no idea yet. And not only that I’m traveling between now and then as of the moment I publish this post. So I’m not even sure when I’m preparing.

I also have an event this Thursday. I hope everyone in the NY area can make it. I write about it here and you can sign up for it here. I’m a little less nervous for that one because it’s not talk but more of a chat I will be having with my friend Jerry Colonna, who is a superstar venture capitalist-turned-Buddhist-Life-Coach. I’m very excited for it. I have no idea what we will talk about yet but going to start thinking about it today (I promise, Jerry!).

(Lady Gaga sometimes gets stage fright)

A couple of quick tips, though, that I find very helpful:

A) if you aren’t experiencing stage fright then something is wrong. I find a little bit of nervousness gets my adrenalin going.

B) Slur your words slightly. This hypnotizes your body into thinking it’s slightly drunk and you’ll have less inhibitions.

C) Be self-deprecating.

D) Be funny. People will remember very little from your talk in the years to come. But they will remember if they laughed or not. It’s hard to be funny. I practice by watching standup comedy on youtube for the hour or so before any talk. Lately I’ve probably watched every Louis CK and Daniel Tosh video.

E) Use slides if you can. But use very few words per slide. No more than 5-10 words per slide. I have a slight idea in the back of my head for the talk I’m going to give on Saturday and I think the slides will actually have no words on them (unless you count the tattoos of words on women as “words”).

Start with those tips. Then read my post I mention above. Then assume you’re going to have to prepare at least one or two hours for every fifteen minutes of your talk.