World Leaders Who Had Stage Fright And How They Overcame It

Stage fright goes back to our primitive nature, from our reptilian brain which is characterized with to Fight or Flee. After Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, he one day tried an experiment in a London Zoo.  He pressed his head close to the glass enclosure of a Puff Ader and every time the Ader would lunge forward to attack, he would by reflex action rebound away from the glass in fear. He concluded, which is backed by neuroscience today, that it was a reaction ingrained by our evolutionary nature to fight or flee when sensing danger and although we have evolved with a neo- cortex some of our brains evolutionary behavior have just not gone away and is evident in public speaking.

Stage fright and public speaking is psychologically one such fear we are ingrained with from our primitive reptilian brain which fears embarrassment, humiliation, and judgment as the modern world we live in, self image is very important and most people lack clarity of their being suffering from low self confidence, poor self image, fear of failure and fear of ridicule which makes the primitive reptilian brain react with fear. 

Public speaking is an art that can be worked on and great leaders have even suffered from it till a larger purpose from life made them overcome this fear.

 If you are looking to become a confident speaker, you need to nail this art.

Why Couldn’t Speak in Public and Feared Public Speaking

Mahatma Gandhi is a fine example, he suffered from frequent attacks of this fear and is documented by him having to speak in the vegetarian community in London and as he went to speak he was overcome with this panic attack that after reading one line of his speech he had to ask somebody else to read out his speech. This very man who couldn’t speak in public and feared public speaking went on in life to lead an entire freedom movement.  For Gandhi his firm belief on what he believed became his greatest strength to overcome this fear and stand up for what he believed in.

Thomas Jefferson who was the third President of America was diagnosed with social phobia. Abraham Lincoln feared large crowds.

For all of them  they overcame their fear by a larger truth they believed in and you can  sum up how they overcame their fear by first knowing the subject you  want or have to speak on well. Organizing the mind on the essential points of the presentation, which keeps your mind with relevant information to pop up in the mind, as speaking is all about what pops up at the moment in your mind.  Visualizing success, as the battle is more in the mind, breathing deeply and being present in the moment, focusing on the material and not the audience, not fearing a moment of silence.

For all these great leaders they found the best way to overcome fear was to face it head on. Being positive in their frame of mind of what they wanted to achieve. Choosing a topic they passionately felt for, which excites the passions and overcomes the fear of speaking. Forgetting about failure or success and concentrating on what was important in their mission.

What we can learn from all these men is what is elementary to overcome the fear of public speaking.

  1. Get organized – When you organize your thoughts, you become much more relaxed to express them as you are clear in your head.
  2. Practice and prepare extensively- Make notes of your key points, run it through your head, be ready to take any questions that may pop up. Your research should be complete leaving nothing to chance.
  3. Eliminate fear of rejection- This is a fundamental fear from our reptilian brain to fear rejection it can have disastrous consequences. Eliminate any fear of rejection and see yourself winning.
  4. Focus on patterns- Keep your sentence short but meaningful, add pauses in your speech. Repeat key points.
  5. Watch yourself in a mirror- Look out for your facial expressions, your gestures, your body movement, make yourself welcoming.
  6. Record yourself- Hear your voice and get comfortable with it, hear yourself and make corrections to yourself of how you would sound or look better.
  7. Concentrate on your breathing- Keep your breath calm. Try and be still with a calm rhythm to your breath, you directly influence the energy of your surroundings when you speak so if you are relaxed it will even make your audience relaxed.
  8. Sip water that is warm or the room temperature
  9. Pick a subject that you passionately care about- You will find if you choose a subject you are passionate about it will overcome your fear as you have a larger purpose in speaking then just presenting yourself as Gandhi found his belief of freedom and what he believed in was larger than himself.

The key to be an effective public speaker is in our hands and we can master it if we carefully remember these points. Fear is a basic human reaction from our primitive brain. We have to overcome our brain’s default wiring by being conscious of it and not letting it over power us.

If you are looking to become a confident speaker, you can count on our public speaking training to help you out efficiently. Our expertise and experience ensure that you are able to overcome stage fear and nervousness to become a public speaker in quite less time. Do reach out to us to know more.


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