How to turn your fear of speaking into an advantage

Facing a crowd to deliver a presentation or make a pitch is almost unavoidable in professional circles, but you needn’t let jitters overwhelm you. Make them work for you instead. Here’s how.

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Entrepreneurs and other business leaders must be able to face a crowd and make a pitch, present an idea or close a deal.

Still, fears persist: We might forget what we were saying, start coughing uncontrollably or trip while approaching the stage.

Even seasoned public speakers experience performance anxiety. However, veteran speakers know how to use it to their advantage, transforming that fear into energy.

Here’s what to remember in wrangling presentation anxiety:

1. Recognize that fear is normal.

Feeling scared means you care and want to do your best.

If you don’t recognize and redirect it, fear can manifest itself in physical ways. It can change the way your brain works, causing you to lose concentration and stumble over words. It can cause you to tremble and fidget and can make your heart race, which won’t help your presentation.

Everyone feels fear: actors, musicians, athletes, soldiers—anyone who takes on a challenge. You won’t be able to use these tips if you’re beating yourself up over your anxiety. You’ll just make yourself even more anxious.

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