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3 Success Strategies To Overcome Your Fears and Anxieties

Successful people usually find a way to overcome their fears.

Here are three classic success strategies that work and that we can all use to build our confidence.

Success Strategy #1 – Tangible Techniques

Winston Churchill is recognised as one of the greatest leaders and public speakers. But he was notoriously anxious about speaking in public. As a child he had a speech impediment, he did poorly at school and had little personal confidence. However, he was a determined man. So when he came upon a block, he worked round it with a practical answer.

  • He changing his habits: He learned to speak in a way that helped him control his stammer impediment, using a slow and controlled pace.
  • He prepared and rehearsed: All his speeches were thoroughly rehearsed (he was a poor speaker without a script). To ensure an expressive delivery, his scripts were fully scored like a piece of music, to indicate when to slow down, rise to crescendo, pause on that full stop…etc. He used rehearsed techniques to keep himself in control. He would often ask someone to sit opposite him in the BBC studio when recording live on air. This would have helped his delivery sound more natural.
  • He took the right attitude: Winston Churchill famously said that to help manage his nerves of speaking in public, he found it helpful to imagine his audience naked! Attitude is everything. Our thoughts influence our behaviour.

Winston Churchill’s ‘Tangible Techniques’ Success Strategies are simple but make the difference. They are all part of the professional performer’s toolbox which we share on our communication & presentation programmes.

Success Strategy #2 – Get it in Perspective

Anthony Sher, the award winning classical actor (The History Man, Mrs Brown) who may seem supremely at home in front of an audience, confessed to suffering from stage fright so badly that it almost ended his career. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph he said,


“It felt like a form of madness – the terrible feeling that would build up in the afternoon as the evening performance came nearer. I’d be on stage saying the lines and there’d be a voice in my head saying, ‘Any moment now you’re going to f*** up.’ There’d be a second voice telling me to shut up.”

For a time, while playing Iago (in Shakespeare’s Othello) for the RSC, he thought of giving up acting altogether.

The eventual cure came when he wrote and performed in a one-man show, playing Primo Levi in an adaptation of ‘If This is a Man’, an adaptation of the author’s account of his experiences in Auschwitz.

Sher said, “It was good to have that material, because, if I ever got frightened, I could just say my fear is so unimportant compared to his fear of living in this nightmarish place.”


Anthony Sher’s ‘Get It In Perspective’ Success Strategy is one I particularly like. It is so easy for us to build up our anxieties around an interview, presentation or even just making a phone call. We must remember to ask ourselves – “Really – what’s the worst that can happen?” And just get on and DO it!

Success Strategy #3 – Eliminate the Risks

After Barbara Streisand was traumatised in 1967 by forgetting the words to her songs in a live performance, she didn't perform live again for twenty years! When she did, she chose to use teleprompters showing the words of her songs so that she would never suffer the same humiliation. She took away the risk she most feared.

This seems such an obvious answer to her problem, but I suppose twenty years earlier the technology wasn’t so slick, and she must have been suffering from a very bruised ego. It wasn’t all plain sailing, some in her audiences weren’t impressed that she used the prompters, but maybe they had never put themselves in any position where failure and humiliation is a possibility.


Barbara Streisand’s ‘Eliminate the Risks’ Success Strategy is one I always encourage presenters and speakers to think about – and act on. We examine what is behind our greatest fears and come up with ways to solve the problem. This might be creating an aide-memoire that becomes part of the presentation rather than sneaky peeps at a PowerPoint slide or being script bound. Or when having to deliver someone else’s presentation, coming clean by openly saying to the audience, “This subject isn’t really my specialism…I’m delivering Jim’s slides…, so if anyone has something to add at the end of each section please let me know because that would be useful.” There are plenty of ways to manage an audience’s expectation whilst eliminating our risks at the same time.

More help with your confidence…

Confidence Clinic - Get really nervous? You’re not alone.

You Wouldn’t Believe It - The famous people who struggle with nerves and confidence.

10 Tips for Presentation Confidence - Practical ways to help reduce your nerves.

All our coaching programmes and courses will address your personal confidence. We will build on your strengths and give you realistic strategies to apply to your work and life. We are happy to speak with you to see how we can help you overcome your anxieties. See The Confident Presenter or Our Services to give you more of an idea of our approach.

Call us on +44 (0)1332 727305 or contact us

to find out more about how we might help you. 

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