Most performers, no matter how experienced or talented, will tell you that they do feel stage fright, on occasion. Some say they get concerned if they DON’T feel nervous, because it means that they are missing the ‘edge’ – that sense of readiness that is necessary if they are to go “on stage” and really shine.

Even though performance nerves are common, it doesn’t mean they are pleasant, or easy to overcome. Surveys have shown that the fear of public speaking is extremely widespread. Queasy stomach, sweaty palms, rapid pulse, pounding heart, shaky knees, lost train of thought – most people report one or more of these signs that they’d really rather be somewhere else, doing something else.

The one thing you should not do, if you know that an attack of stage fright will accompany any of your presentations, is start to avoid these opportunities. There is so much to be gained from doing them.

And you should know that the feeling of stage fright is not a sign that you are going to perform poorly. In fact, many times, it’s a sign of exactly the opposite potential outcome.

The thing to do is use it. Make it work for you. Think of it as a shot of adrenalin, running through you, and giving you energy that you can use to achieve your purpose. Anticipate it, but don’t dread it. Whether yours is a mild sense of trepidation or a full-on panic attack, know that it’s likely to show up, relax when it does, and try to smile. Take your time and do whatever works for you, as a stress-reliever – breathe deeply, tighten and release muscles, listen to music, pace. Give yourself time to calm down and to re-focus on your message.

Then, once you’ve taken that moment to acknowledge the camera fright and let it boost you, forget about it. Don’t let yourself obsess over how nervous you are and don’t let your mind wander back to your anxiety. You are there to communicate, and fixating on your own tension will get in the way.

Guest post by Gail Hulnick who is a media skills coach and consultant at WindWord Communications.