Stage fright is normal, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s benign. Performance anxiety can affect your career and personal life. It can diminish your self-esteem or hold you back from taking on leadership roles at work.

Public speaking is said to be the biggest fear reported by many American adults, topping flying, financial ruin, sickness, and even death.

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If you’re prone to stage fright, it’s important to take control of it before it starts controlling you. Here are five proven ways to approach the problem and make that spotlight work for you.

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1.

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Shift the focus from yourself and your fear of your true purpose—contributing something of value to your audience.

2.

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Stop scaring yourself with thoughts about what might go wrong. Instead, focus your attention on thoughts and images that are calming and reassuring.

3.

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Refuse to think thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence.

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4.

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Practice ways to calm and relax your mind and body, such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, yoga, and meditation.

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5.

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Exercise, eat well and practice other healthful lifestyle habits. Try to limit caffeine, sugar, and alcohol as much as possible.

6.

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Visualize your success: Always focus on your strength and ability to handle challenging situations.

7.

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Prepare your material in advance and read it aloud to hear your voice.

8.

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Make connections with your audience: Smile and greet people, thinking of them as friends rather than enemies.

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9.

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Stand or sit in a self-assured, confident posture. Remain warm and open and make eye contact.

10.

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Give up trying to be perfect and know that it is OK to make mistakes. Be natural, be yourself.

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for stage fright. If you experience performance anxiety, there’s a good chance you might always feel a butterfly or two before you deliver a presentation. The good news is recognizing your triggers can help you apply the right strategies to manage your emotions.