Why Fear ‘Stage Fear

It is always believed that the best and the most ‘profound and useful’ knowledge can go unrecognised if it is not effectively and positively communicated. Through the many years of
09 Dec 2017 11:06
Why Fear ‘Stage Fear
Mayur Kalbag

It is always believed that the best and the most ‘profound and useful’ knowledge can go

unrecognised if it is not effectively and positively communicated.

Through the many years of having worked as a behavioral corporate trainer and a leadership development speaker for various organisations, I have met a lot of participants who have expressed to me that their main hurdle and barrier has been Stage Fear.


What is stage fear?

Well, in simple terms, it is that situation where a person, typically an employee, feels fear and experiences emotions of ‘nervousness, anxiety and stress’ while speaking or presenting in front of a ‘group of people’ or while interacting with his or her seniors.

Despite knowing what to speak and having done excellent preparations about the specific or relevant subject, the employee may not impress and impact his or her listeners if he or she experiences ‘stage fear’ at the time of his or her communication to the listeners.

This can therefore create a poor impression in the minds of the listeners.

I wish to explain the aspect of stage fear and its negative impact with a real life situation.


Single Fear: Example

Michael was selected into the organization for his excellent technical knowledge but what set him apart from the others in his team was his innovative thinking.

Within just three months of joining the organization, he had developed two innovative ideas and his immediate boss was extremely impressed with Michael.

“I want you to present your two innovative ideas at the head of departments, (HOD) monthly meeting.

“Your ideas have tremendous usefulness not just for our own marketing department but for other departments as well!

“This HOD meeting is happening exactly after three days and I want you to properly prepare for it.

“I am very confident that you will impress all the heads of department and also the chief executive officer who I have specially requested to be present for the meeting.

“In fact, the chief executive officer is keenly looking forward to your presentation especially after I shared a few things about your innovative and positive thinking with him,” saying this ,the boss patted Michael on his back and left.

On his part, Michael was highly excited and inspired to begin his preparations for the presentation.

He started planning about the things he would be presenting to the various seniors from different departments.

He was extremely confident about his subject of presentation and was sure of impressing the audience and especially the chief executive officer of the organization.

It was Monday and exactly at 4pm all the Heads of Department (HODs) started entering the conference room.

At 4.15pm the CEO walked in and requested the presentation to be started.

Two employees made their respective presentations and then Michael’s name was called and the moment that happened, for some reason, Michael began to feel very diffident and nervous.

“C’mon Michael, get up and deliver your presentation” his boss, seated next to him, prodded him.

Michael was totally prepared for the presentation by yet was reluctant to go to the podium and present.

Somehow he mustered a bit of courage and walked towards the center point.

He had already set up his laptop and the power-point slides which he had prepared to present.

All the people and especially some of the heads of department along with the CEO were eagerly waiting for Michael to begin his presentation about his new ideas.

But then what happened subsequently was shocking.


Stage fear

A confident Michael in normal circumstances seemed to look extremely nervous and hesitant while he stood facing the audience.

His boss noticed that Michael was literally shivering with nervousness and his hands were trembling with fear.

Even his facial expressions had turned ‘blank’.

He somehow began his presentation with a greeting to all the people gathered in the conference room and then started explaining his two innovative ideas.

To the surprise of his boss Michael was sounding very fearful and nervous in his verbal tone.

To add to that, even Michael was getting very fidgety.

However, the worst was yet to come.

Michael was so fearful standing in front of his seniors and the CEO that he actually became blank and forgot the main points which he had planned to present.

Although he started speaking about his ideas, there was no forcefulness and enthusiasm in his voice.

Michael was feeling a lot of fear especially to stand in front of all the seniors.

This fear was affecting his overall presentation.

The fear of facing the audience and the possibility of making mistakes was completely crushing his confidence.

Michael struggled to finish his presentation and just as he concluded there was a sigh of relief from his immediate boss.

All the HODs thanked Michael for his efforts but the CEO stayed back.

After everyone had left he requested Michael as well as his immediate boss to stay back and then addressed them both.


Piece of advice

“Hey Michael, firstly let me acknowledge your efforts but having said that I must be very honest to tell you that in your entire presentation of fifteen minutes I was neither impacted not was I impressed.

“You stood there in front of all of us but you were so nervous and in fear that your entire presentation had no confidence and conviction at all.

“Your presentation was passive and not assertive!

“I wonder why you were so nervous despite having so much command and knowledge about your topic of presentation,” saying this the CEO waited to hear Michael’s response.

“Sir, I have ‘stage fear” Michael responded with a nervous facial expression.

“I am sorry for this” he told the CEO and also his immediate boss.

“Well Michael, I want you to understand that I have tremendous confidence in your innovative and creative thinking abilities.

“Your immediate boss has convinced me about your positive attitude towards work but then where was all this when you were presenting to us?

“I believe you were provided with an excellent opportunity to show your potential and your creative talents to all the HODs but you just wasted the opportunity,” the CEO told Michael.

Dear readers and friends, whatever happened in Michael’s case happens to many employees in many organisations across the world.

Despite planning and preparation some employees, due to stage fear, nervousness and stress do not create the required positive impact through their presentations.

In my next column I will be focusing upon a few but highly important and useful techniques to help us overcome the stage fear and other similar emotions and thereby help us make our communication and presentation most impactful and impressive!



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