Tips to avoid stage fright in book presentations

For many writers, public speaking – even if it’s just reading from one’s book – is a daunting experience.

Nervousness about speaking can turn into stage fright. While some fear is natural, if unchecked it will negatively affect your presentation.

Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to dampen your apprehension:
• Practice beforehand. Familiarity with the material you cover will give you increased confidence. • Avoid caffeine, sugar and alcohol before the presentation. These chemicals can exacerbate your nervousness. Instead, stick to water.
• Interact with the audience before the presentation. This helps you become more comfortable by creating a relationship, even if a minor one, with the audience and by building your confidence when others respond with interest to you.
• Remain aware of your posture. Like mom said, you want to sit up straight and relaxed during a presentation. This actually projects an aura of confidence, which others will respond positively to, further building your comfort level.
• Shift your thoughts from your fear of messing up or of not being accepted to thoughts that are calm and reassuring. Imagine that you’re at that one place where you are most at peace. Breathe deeply, and if necessary, pause for a few seconds and concentrate on listening to the rhythm of your breathing.
 Focus on those in the audience who are paying attention or giving other positive nonverbal feedback. When a person smiles at your joke or nods in approval, make eye contact with him. Don’t stare solely at that person (or you’ll make him nervous!) but frequently come to back him – and others who are reassuring. Besides boosting your confidence, those audience members will feel an even stronger bond with you.
• Don’t worry about making mistakes. Most audience members won’t think twice about it. They will notice your nervousness and embarrassment, however.

Remember: What you present to readers likely will be received quite well. After all, they came to your presentation because they found you, your book, or your topic intriguing! What will cause them to react negatively to the presentation will be your fear of not being accepted, as they’ll find your nervousness distracting. In short, wipe away the fear, and you’re a winner.