7 Secrets To Conquering Stage Fright As A Keynote Speaker

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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7 Secrets To Conquering Stage Fright As A Keynote Speaker: Keynote Speaker Conquers Stage Fright

How This Keynote Speaker Went From Introvert to Extrovert

Fear keeps most people from jumping into their dream. I know. I’ve been there. It’s not easy to come out of our comfort zone because, well, duh, it’s uncomfortable. And we don’t like to be uncomfortable.

If your dream is to be a funny keynote speaker like me, then your fear is double since speaking in public is already one of the top five things people fear most – even higher than death.

Some people would consider me an extrovert. I guess I am somewhat of a bull in a china shop – the loudest and most easily viewed from a distance.  But I wasn’t always this way. In fact, growing up I was painfully shy. It was a long journey from shy to over the top. But I made it. And now I want to share some of the secrets to how I conquered my stage fright.

7 Secrets To Conquering Stage Fright

1. Don’t conquer it.  Embrace it, own it, move in spite of it.
Fear never really goes away. I don’t have more courage than you. I’ve just learned how to own it instead of it owning me. So the first secret is knowing that fear is completely normal and allowing it to be a part of your dream.

2. Learn to believe in yourself.
If you don’t believe you can do it, you’re right. The power of the mind is amazing. You can retrain yourself to be more confident. You just have to work at it, instead of waiting for it to happen.

3. Rewrite the fear story.
Fear is just another story we write. So change it. Scratch out the fear story and rewrite it having a positive ending.

4. Practice. Over and over and over.
Practice in front of groups where there is no pressure. Sign up to teach a class, head up  a committee, throw yourself into a leadership position. No better way to learn than by doing. It gets easier.

5. Be silly.
Take an improv class to teach yourself how to act stupid and see that the world doesn’t fall apart. Take a stand up class where you have to get up and perform in front of others. Volunteer to work with kids at church, or at a camp. You have to be silly, and it will get more comfortable the more you do it.

6. Do it before you are ready.
Act brave first. Think brave first. Feelings follow thoughts and actions. Don’t wait until you feel ready.

7. Don’t picture your audience naked – picture them as hopelessly flawed as you are.
If you mess up, it won’t be that bad. Laugh it off and claim it as a weakness. They will love you for your honesty and courage to be real. I have found that people don’t connect to perfect speakers as much as they connect to imperfect speakers.

Get to the Root of Your Fear As a Motivational Keynote Speaker

Take a moment to figure out why you are afraid. REALLY. Are you afraid you will fail? Forget lines? Look stupid? Not be skinny enough? Put people to sleep? While many people sing the praises of visualizing success. I like to visualize failure too because it helps me see myself failing on stage, and once I’ve done that, I realize that I still want to do it. My dream is bigger than my fear. Then I go back to visualizing success.

Aunt Bitsy Conquers Her Fears

Here’s a fun story I wrote called “Aunt Bitsy’s Fear Conquerin’ Idear” – hope you enjoy it.


Share Your Conquering Fear Stories With Other Keynote Speakers

So what about you? Did you conquer stage fright? I’d love to hear how you did it! As keynote speakers we can get stronger together!



  • ImanWoods

    I LOVE this! Favorite quote: “Fear never really goes away. I don’t have more courage than you. I’ve just learned how to own it instead of it owning me.”

    People say they can’t draw/paint/do all the time. But I always ask if they’ve truly tried and practiced.

    I can’t imagine you shy at all. ;)

  • I love this: “My dream is bigger than my fear.” We should all write that statement on every mirror in our homes. Fear lets you know that you are stretching yourself and doing something exciting. Don’t you find that the fear turns to joy at the end and gives you a nice energy buzz for the day.


  • I spent years on stage as a dancer and my joke was that I was fine in the spotlight, as long as I didn’t open my mouth! Singing 4-part harmony with Sweet Adeline’s was my next kick in the butt to get over that stage fright bug. But sharing the stage with 100+ women is far different than being out there all alone.

    Networking events and growing your business is a little like stage fright – put on the spot in a public venue for your elevator pitch is great practice to having the stage to yourself.

    I find that after presenting and speaking at business events that unless I’m seriously under prepared, the butterflies keep it to a low roar.

    Great post Kelly – and I totally agree with your tip that being real and honest is the best way to connect to an audience.