Stage Fright in Business Presentations

William Shakespeare once wrote, “All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely players.”

In order to land a big account, David would be pitching his presentation in a couple of hours. Then his boss came to him and said the presentation was moved up – to now. David is confident enough and has no nervous feelings about giving the speech to his prospective client as he has done this same presentation at least 100 times before.

Whether giving your presentation as a formal keynote address at a conference or as an informal dialogue with a customer at a conference table, your reputation is on the line. Many people suffer throughout their careers with the fear of public speaking. Some have succeeded for years at avoiding giving presentations, and others could not as it is a part of their jobs.

Called fear of public speaking, stage fright, speech anxiety, or performance anxiety, it affects thousands of careers moving forward in getting a promotion and in getting work accomplished. Stage fright is the fear of feeling nervous and uncomfortable in front of others. Stage Fright is still the #1 fear in America. According to a human resource survey reported in 2005, approximately 15% of employed persons are highly apprehensive about communicating orally in organizational settings.

Some people are born with the skills, the talent, and the ability to be a total extrovert and give a speech or presentation at the drop of a hat. Most of us cannot do that, even though we may consider ourselves as extroverted. Practically everyone – about 85% of the population, in fact – experiences “stage fright” when they give a speech. Being in the spotlight is not what most people wanted, even though they may fantasize about it.

In contrast to David, Darlene, a 32-year-old sales manager, was about to give her sales presentation to a potentially large prospect when she began to experience what actors have long called stage fright or performance anxiety. She had started out preparing for this presentation with a 20-page manuscript, and finally was able to pare it to 10 to 15 index cards. And she still was extremely nervous about the actual presentation in front of the prospective client. After experiencing this anxiety over the presentation, she decided that she needed to do something about since she had just been promoted and giving presentations is part of her new job.

Stage fright is usually a fear of how others will judge our performance and perhaps even judge us as individuals. It can start minutes, hours, or days before that important performance. The doubts start to occupy your thoughts and your body feels the tension and fear. You may notice an increase in your heart rate, sweaty palms, shaky hands, dry throat, and you know the rest.

When it comes to public speaking, there are several categories of people:

o About 5% of the population do not fear speaking in public at all and actually look forward to it in many cases. If you are in this 5%, you need not read any farther.

o Another 10% are apprehensive about speaking in public, but do not have a real fear of it.

o However, the vast majority of us (about 80%) have a mild to serious fear of speaking in public; we don’t do it unless we have to and we tend to minimize the opportunities to speak in public if at all possible;

o Then there are about 5% of us who have an excessive and debilitating fear of speaking in public.

Public speaking is a common source of stress for almost everyone. Many of us would like to avoid this problem entirely, but this is hard to do. This even holds true for extroverts in sales positions. Most people have a fear of getting up in front of an audience to give a presentation. Sometimes this can present such problems as missed business opportunities, lost clients, and even being passed over for promotions that can cost you tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars over your career.

The following strategies will help in improving your presentation skills.

1. Practice, practice, practice: Spend a few minutes every day, including the day of your presentation, practicing what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Practice alone – that way you can recite it out loud and the information will become more familiar to you. Pretend you are just chatting with a group of friends.

Memorize your opening and closing statements so you can recite them on autopilot if you have to. Even if you know your material very well, practice is extremely important. The more you give a talk, the easier it becomes.

2. Visualization: Imagine yourself walking confidently up to the front of your audience as they applaud. Imagine yourself speaking successfully as you concentrate that you are a good speaker. Imagine how you will feel from the results of your presentation – the positive feedback, landing the big account, getting the promotion. Imagine this over and over from the time you are assigned the talk until moments before you are to present, and then again after the presentation is over to keep this feeling with you.

3. Know your material: If you are not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice your speech or presentation and revise it until you can present it with ease. Know what you are talking about. Do your homework on the subject! Knowing more gives you the self-confidence you need to give your speech and answer questions afterwards. Make an outline. Then replace your outlined pages with index cards. Eventually, you will only need one 3X5 index card, and with experience, you will not even need the one card.

4. Focus on three main points: Remember, all your audience wants from you is to walk away with a few key points that will make a difference to them. Learn as much as you can about your audience, what you want to say to them, and say it. Structure your talks to deliver these few points, and as a result, you can avoid a lot of complexity that is not really needed. Do not deliver mountains of facts or details to give your audience. Many studies have shown that people remember very few of the facts or information speakers convey. While you may choose to include lots of facts and information, to be successful, you only need to talk about two or three main points. If you want, depending on your topic, your entire talk can be about on one key point.

During your speech ask questions, if possible, to your audience in order to give them a participatory feeling. This also gives your audience a chance to ask you questions about those points pertinent to them. One-quarter to one-half of your speech should be a discussion with the audience. That way it will not look or feel as much like a speech. This should make your job as a speaker much easier and a more comfortable experience too!

5. Relax before speaking: There are a few factors you need to think about and some not do. These include:

o Don’t apologize for being nervous. Most of the time, your nervousness will not show at all. If you don’t say anything about it, nobody will notice. If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems you think you may be having, you are drawing the attention of the audience to this negative aspect instead of letting them focus on the speech itself, which is why they are there.

o Turn nervousness into positive energy. Even the most seasoned of speakers can feel uneasy or anxious. Take a few long, deep breaths. Harness your energy into being enthusiastic and comfortable about the topic of your presentation.

o Positive eye contact and movement. Use your body language with gestures and facial expressions to your advantage. Do not stare or look up to the ceiling or down to the floor, or stare at any one person in your audience. Instead, scan your eyes over them while you are speaking. This will help ease your discomfort, and make them feel as if they are an important part of what you are saying.

o Remind yourself of the benefits. It is important for your audience to receive the information you’ll be offering them. Thinking about this takes the responsibility off you and puts it on the subject that they need to learn about.

6. Use resources: To improve further on your presentations or speeches, especially for your career, you can join an organization such as Toastmasters, which will help you improve upon all facets of communication skills. Or you can hire speech coach who will help you the same way except on an individual basis.

Being Present: Can Childhood Trauma Make It Hard For Someone To Be Present?

One thing that is often spoken about in self-development is the importance of being present. In some cases, this is seen as the answer to every problem and, in others, it is just seen as something that will allow someone to function better.
So when someone is present, they won’t be caught up in what happened in the past and they won’t be caught up in what might happen in the future either. Their attention will be in the now.

An Illusion

It has been said that there is no such thing as the past or the future and that there is only an ever-present now moment. Even so, someone’s mind will create the impression that there is a past and a future.

Therefore, while there will only be the present, someone will have a mind that won’t be able to accept this. One way of looking at this would be to say that their mind has to be this way or else it wouldn’t have a reason to exist.

Embracing Life

When one is able to live a life where they generally live in the present moment, they won’t be weighed down by what has happened in the past or caught up in what they think might happen in the future. They will be in the now, which is the only place where they will have any power.

Also, through being in the moment, they will be able to focus and to fully show up. Their awareness is then not going to be in their head, focusing on something else – it will be in their body, in the present moment.

Another Benefit

What they are also likely to find, as a result of living in this way, is that it is a lot easier for them to respond to life. Being in their body and in the now moment will mean that they won’t be caught up in something that took place last week or last year, for instance.

If they were, not only would it stop them from being able to be present, but it could also cause them to overreact to something. Another person could politely ask them something and they could end up losing it.

A Pleasant Experience

Being this way, then, will stop them from getting worked up and having a go at someone for no reason. This is naturally going to have a positive effect on their relationships, with the people in their life knowing that one typically won’t get worked up over nothing.

These people can feel comfortable around them and know that it is safe for them to talk to them about most things. One is not going to be seen as someone who is unstable and expects other people to walk on eggs shells around them.

Staying Centred

If they did have the tendency to get worked up, it probably wouldn’t do their health any good in the long run. Thus, being present is going to make it easier for them to make good decisions and it will be easier for them to stay calm and relaxed.

Another part of this is that when there is unrest around them, they won’t need to get pulled into what is taking place. Once again, this will be good for their health and their ability to think rationally in such moments.

A Very Different Reality

Although this is how some people will experience life, there are going to be plenty of others that have a very different experience. For someone like this, they may rarely be in the present moment.

Most of their time could be spent thinking about what took place in the past and what might happen in the future. This will show that they find it hard to be in their body and to be in the now moment.


Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that one will realise that this is what is taking place. Instead, they may typically believe that what is taking place in their mind is a reflection of what is taking place externally.

What this means is that one is going to be projecting what is taking place in their mind onto the external world without even being aware of it. Living in this way is likely to take a lot out of them, with them spending a lot of time feeling exhausted.

A Closer Look

It could be normal for them to overreact and to create unnecessary drama, to feel fearful and scared when they are completely safe, and to think irrationally and to make poor decisions. It could seem that they just need to learn how to observe their mind and to not get caught up in what is taking place inside them.

This could be it, or what it may show is that they are carrying a fair amount of trauma. If one has been this way for as long as they can remember, it may show is that their early years were anything but nurturing.

A Rough Time

During this stage of their life, they may have experienced some kind of abuse and/or neglect. The view that they have of the world and the people in it as an adult will be a reflection of what it was like for them as a child.

It won’t matter how many years have passed since this time in their life as they will still be carrying the trauma that they experienced. Until this is dealt with, it will be more or less impossible for them to embrace the present moment.


If one can relate to this, and they want to transform their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided by the assistance of a therapist or a healer.

How To Effectively Negotiate? The 6-Step Professional Approach

Nearly everything in life worth achieving, requires some sort of negotiating skills. While many people say they know how to negotiate, it is important to realize that is far different from effectively doing so. Therefore, both regarding our personal lives, as well as many skills associated with business expertise, effective negotiation is a key to excellence. When we not only know how to do this, but also consistently utilize the skills, assets, attitudes and abilities, which put you in the best position, we are most capable of achieving things which so many others are not. Understand this requires doing one’s homework, being prepared (ready), and following a quality game plan. Let’s review the 6-step, professional approach:

1. Know your objectives: Only if you enter into the process, knowing what you want to accomplish and achieve, have a clear vision of your goals, and follow a path, in an orderly manner, will you achieve what you seek or need. One of the biggest mistakes poor negotiators often make, is either under-estimating their adversary, over-stating what they promise, fail to differentiate between essential priorities versus wants, don’t understand the need to clearly articulate and tell the truth, etc.

2. Know adversary’s objectives/needs: You might wonder why it is so important to know what the other side needs. Quality negotiating is not about merely asking for the moon, because unless the other side, gets what it needs, the process will often fail. For example, if you negotiate with a hotel or a caterer, why would you believe they would agree to lose money. In that instance, create a process which creates and/or seeks a win-win, where together you reach concepts which might save money, which can then be passed along. In real estate, quality negotiating is never about merely pressuring the owner (if you represent the buyer), to lower the price dramatically, but rather getting the lowest price possible, which will be accepted and close the process, creating a meeting of the mind.

3. Absolute integrity: Amateurs sometimes proceed by overstating what they can deliver, and, their side suffers, when inevitably it is discovered to be so. Rather, one of the necessities of profession negotiations, is to consistently maintain absolute integrity!

4. Full disclosure: Clearly articulate your musts, which are those needs, often referred to as deal-breakers! Explain you want to work together to make it work, and seek alternative approaches or methods, that will make it work well for both sides!

5. Think outside the box: Forget the same-old, same-old philosophy, mentality or approach! Rather, carefully consider alternatives, work with (rather than constantly against) the other side, and develop mutually satisfying approaches. For example, when negotiating with a hotel and/or caterer, clearly explain what you offer/the advantages to them(e.g. common menus, flexibility of menu and service, etc). Seek ways where both sides can win!

6. Come to a win-win, meeting of the minds: Only when both sides come away, feeling they were somewhat successful, and met their needs and objectives, do you get the longer-term, best results. Great negotiator realize that winning does not mean defeating the other side, but rather coming to an agreement which works, and achieves objectives!

I’ve often stated negotiations should usually be left to the professionals, because, the process goes more smoothly, and a greater proportion of goals and objectives are met. When you understand the basics, and focus on the end-result, you will become a far better negotiator.