Turning Stage Fright Into Stage Might

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help better endure stage fright. Reading time: 4:05

        For the first time in your career you will be making a company-wide presentation to the largest audience you have ever faced. Sure, you’re nervous. Maybe even a little scared.

Astronaut Gus Grissom (center) flanked by Glenn (left) and Alan Shepard (right)
Astronaut Gus Grissom (center) flanked by John Glenn (left) and Alan Shepard (right)

          You know your material. You spent more than a month researching, writing and rehearsing. Yet now –two hours from show time —the butterflies in your stomach are tearing you apart. (WTF!)

         Your heart’s thumping. Your lips are quivering.  Your voice is quavering. Your head is swirling. Your knees are knocking. Your palms are sweating. Your face is reddening. Your throat is choking. And your eyes are tearing.

       Whoa there Mealy Mouth! Take a breath. And take comfort: You’re not alone.

       In fact, stage fright inflicts the best of leaders but it doesn’t get the best of any leader, especially those leaders as prepared as you.

       And you can take some solace knowing that even the most pioneering and courageous leaders suffer from those butterflies. Even if they can perform admirably out of this world. In outer space.

      Astronaut Gus Grissom for example struggled with stage fright at the podium. “Asking Gus to just say a few words was like handing him a knife and asking to a main vein,” writes Tom Wolfe in his book The Right Stuff.

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