“It’s okay to get butterflies when you are nervous, the key is to learn how to get them to fly in formation,” says Georges St. Pierre. It is perfectly natural to have “stage fright” when you are about to speak in public, the key is to use your fear to push you to prepare more, practice often, and connect with your passion (rather than trying to remember your lines) so you speak from the heart and not your head.
Most people fear public speaking because they worry they will forget what they are supposed to say and are afraid they will look foolish and fail if they do. My secret to not feeling fear when I speak (and I give over 75 speeches a year to groups as large as 1,000) is to do everything I can in advance to ensure my success—know my topic inside and out, have slides that serve as my cues, practice my presentation dozens of times, have backups of everything just in case, and so on.
It also helps that I never believe the speech is about me. I am there for the audience, to teach, help, and inspire them. That shift in perspective helps immensely to take the focus off of me (“everyone will be staring at me”) and instead think about how important it is that I remember I am there for others.
The more often I speak (this is my 21st year of being a paid professional speaker) the easier it is. I spoke at every place imaginable in the beginning and the fact that I had success gave me the courage and confidence to know I can do it again. If you face your fear and go for it anyway—and succeed—it is a rush like no other. Go for it.