Today, I'd like to share some very good news with everyone who suffers from stage fright.
You're a natural at giving speech performances.
It's something you've been doing since childhood.
And it's a lot easier than you think.
This is a fortunate situation, since in speeches and presentations, it's virtually impossible for an audience to separate the message from the messenger. You (as speaker) are the message. Luckily, you've had years and years of practice performing in the right capacity for delivering it.
You're a Natural Performer
And performing is the important word here. Each of us is a natural performer--so much so that we're generally not even aware of the performances we give.
In his 1972 book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, sociologist Erving Goffman discussed this phenomenon. Each of us, Goffman reminded us, plays many roles in his or her life. He didn't mean long-term, either: he meant daily.
We shape ourselves, that is, to meet the needs of the particular audience we’re with at the moment, on an everyday basis. ("When in Rome, do as the Romans do" is a famous expression of the need to do so.) The “you” shopping in the supermarket, for instance, is a different person from the “you” on a first date, or the one explaining to your boss the reasons you deserve a raise.
This knowledge, that we play different roles even in a typical day, should be a liberating thought for anyone who speaks in public. By acknowledging that a speech situation is simply one of the many “performances” we give every day of our lives, we can embrace each such opportunity instead of fearing it.
Occasion for Stage Fright . . . or Opportunity?
In other words—there really is nothing unusual or momentous about speaking in public. Since we’re always giving some kind of performance geared to the people and situation at hand, talking in front of an audience is just another application of the skill. Because of its public face, speeches and presentations happen to give us the opportunity to do it with more visibility and influence. And sometimes, more glory.
So accept and enjoy every invitation to speak in public. It's the perfect way to show off your skills as a natural performer.