When Michael Phelps’s goggles broke during the Beijing Olympics, he still won.
For the same reason that I plan for problems to arise anytime I give a keynote:
If you’re prepared, stress won’t get to you.
When I give a talk, I plan for my audiovisual equipment to break.
For the microphone to cut out.
For my allotted time be cut in half right before I go onstage.
For the fire alarm to go off during my presentation.
For too many or too few people to show up.
Before I get up there, I know what I would do if any (or all) of those things happen.
If they do, I’m ready.
And if they don’t, I’m not exerting brain space worrying about what would happen if they did.
Pre-create the circumstances that might throw you off so they don’t.
I’ve learned that stage fright can actually be abated with practice.
By getting onstage more often.
That’s right: do the stressful thing enough that it stops being stressful.
The more you do something stressful, the more you get “over” it.
You’ll find that you react less to things that once spiked your stress level.
Too often, we get nervous around things we never do, so we never do them.
But this creates a negative feedback loop.
If we break that loop, we’ll find that our experience is no longer stressful.