We don’t often think of it this way, but life is often like one big performance.
Whether it’s delivering a lecture, going on a date, or meeting a new person – we are often called upon to present our “best self” to others. And how we present ourselves can have a tremendous impact on how happy and successful we are in many areas of life.
This is also where “performance anxiety” comes in. We all feel at least a little nervous before giving a presentation to a big class or going on a job interview, because we want to look good to others. This fear is also completely natural – it stems from our common desire to be accepted and liked by others.
In Steal the Show: How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life, Michael Port gives a fantastic breakdown of how to become a better performer in both your professional and personal life. He gives you the tools to break through performance anxiety by ultimately teaching you how to become a more skilled and competent public speaker.
Throughout the book, Michael Port integrates his experiences as a trained actor, professional speaker, and marketing consultant into a fantastic guide on how to “steal the show” and nail all your performances in life, no matter what they are – a speech, an interview, a date, a music performance, or anything.
In this article, I’ll share what I’ve found to be his best advice for improving your public speaking and communication skills, from silencing your critics to using the power of “as if” thinking.
I’m not a perfect person.
While I enjoy giving advice on how to overcome social anxiety, I don’t pretend that I’m a “social mastermind” who never makes mistakes or never embarrasses himself.
In fact, I hope that you see my mistakes when I make them. Because I want you to see that I’m not perfect and that I’m just a “normal” person in many ways.
I still worry about people not liking me. I still fear social judgment. And I still get very anxious in many social situations.
My social anxiety still exists. But it also has less power over me than it used to because I’ve spent the last 10 years actively fighting it and learning tools and techniques to help lessen it’s impact over my life.
The fight against social anxiety is a constant struggle even though I’m doing better than ever before…
For the first couple of decades in my life, I really sucked at social interaction and making friends.
One of my earliest memories was all the way back to my first days in preschool when I was about 3 or 4 years old. I remember all of the kids playing together and me playing by myself, feeling completely out-of-place among my peers.
This feeling stuck with me throughout all of my school years from elementary school, up to middle school, up to high school, and up to college.
To start, I was always the one kid who never raised his hand or participated in class. I always sat at the “rejects” table during lunch. And I always dreaded teachers calling on me (not because I wasn’t smart, but because I hated any type of attention).
Of course, it also goes without saying that group projects and presentations were complete torture for me (and all teachers who assign them should be immediately fired…just kidding).
From an academic standpoint, I did really well in school. But from a social standpoint, I was a miserable failure and this ruined most of my early social life.
If you have social anxiety, when’s the best time to seek help?
As someone who runs a website to help those who struggle with social anxiety, I naturally receive a lot of questions from others asking me for help.
Most of the time these are people who are just about to have a job interview, or date, or presentation at work or school. They find me on Twitter and ask me…
“Steve, I have a big presentation tomorrow! What do I do?!”
Normally I have a couple of helpful and practical tips for them to follow – but the truth is there is only so much that can be accomplished in a single day.
Waiting for the last minute to seek help for your social anxiety is typically a bad strategy…
If you’re serious about overcoming social anxiety then you must realize it’s not something that magically happens overnight.
If you want to succeed at that next job interview, date, or presentation, then you should start working on your social anxiety now. Don’t wait for the night before!
How do you know if it’s time for you to seek help for social anxiety? Here are 7 key signs you should look out for.
In self improvement literature, there is a lot of talk about “going outside of your comfort zone.”
Your “comfort zone” is typically seen as playing it safe. It’s when you choose comfort, familiarity, and security rather than novelty, risk-taking, and challenging yourself.
In many ways, while it’s good to step outside of your “comfort zone” every now and then, it also has an unnecessarily bad reputation.
We are often told, “If you want to grow as a person, then you need to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things.” There is a great element of truth to this, but it’s also only one side of the coin.
Your “comfort zone” isn’t something that needs to be completely avoided. In fact, your “comfort zone” plays an integral role in your self improvement, because it gives you an opportunity to relax and recharge yourself.
Going outside of your “comfort zone” is costly – it takes a lot of physical and mental energy. If you are constantly pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, then that can quickly lead to frustration and fatigue.
You need to give yourself permission to “take it easy” every now and then too. You don’t always need to push yourself forward. And this is where your “comfort zone” becomes a very valuable tool in self improvement.