Stage Fright Can Be Good For Your Career

I’ve noticed a pattern with myself, public speaking, and fear of speaking. I wonder if this holds true with others. Tim speaking

I think it was good for me that my job required a lot of speaking even when I was still pretty young. Before I was 25 I’d done radio and standup television for UPI out of Mexico City. When I was in my 30s I did workshops and speaking dates at trade shows like Comdex. And I’ve been doing business planning and startup workshops, and teaching, and some large-group speaking ever since.

For many years, certainly for most of my career, there was a strong correlation between nervousness and doing well. Strange, I suppose, but true: the more nervous I got beforehand, the better I did. When I’d be tossing and turning all of the night before my talk, or had that embarrassing dry mouth and shaking hands at the beginning of a talk, I’d end up doing better.

Confidence seemed to be a bad sign. For years, for most of my career, if I was cool and calm then my performance was not as good.

The extreme nervousness went away, finally, worn off I guess from years of it I’d had by the time I reached maybe 50 years old. But even now, with the big groups, the 1,000-seat auditoriums, I still get nervous and shaky, and the stage fright tends to make me perform (as far as I can tell) better, not worse.

In the end, I think the best way to get over this fear of speaking is to just do it, over and over again.

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  • Annie says:

    I find that being prepared and practicing a few times in front of a mirror helps me feel more confident. I took speech in college and really enjoyed the class. We all were in there, scared out of our minds and having to stand up front of the class and speak. It got easier. I believe you are right. The more you speak in front of people the easier it gets.

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