Bob, a shy and retiring man, needs to deliver a Big Speech to a Large Audience of Important People. Hilarity Ensues during rehearsals, until someone suggests that he imagine that the audience is au naturale.
Basically a Stock Phrase, "If you're nervous, imagine the audience naked." A common variation of this is "Imagine the audience in their underwear." This trope is usually played with. Sometimes the viewers at home are shown what the character sees, usually in the underwear variety unless there's some handy scenery — sometimes they will wish they couldn't. Sometimes, there really will be someone naked or in their underwear.
This is definitely not Truth in Television; if this isn't a Discredited Trope yet, it should be. The notion that such a visualization can ease the nerves that come with public speaking is nonsense, as explained in this editorial. In fact, assuming a speaker is actually capable of vividly calling forth this image under the stressful circumstances of speech delivery, this blog post does a good job of explaining why it might backfire, especially if you happen to be a young male student with attractive women in the audience. Most textbooks on the subject give advice that revolves around keeping the speaker focused on the actual content of the speech and successful delivery, not something that would be pointlessly distracting.
- In Gantz, this is the first of Kurono's Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! moments.
- A variation occurs in episode four of Yuki Yuna is a Hero. Togo tells Itsuki to imagine that everyone as a pumpkin to deal with her Performance Anxiety over singing.
- In Himouto! Umaru-chan, the girls find out that Ebina does poorly on tests because she gets nervous while taking them. Kirie suggests that she imagine everyone as vegetables, while Umaru says she should think about something she likes instead. These suggestions prompt Imagine Spots: Kirie's idea shows Ebina with a Growling Gut surrounded by food-headed classmates, while Umaru's shows Ebina even more nervous than usual because all the classmates are Umaru's brother Taihei, for whom she has feelings.
- A variation in My Hero Academia. When the painfully shy Tamaki has to introduce himself to Class 1-A, he tries to imagine them as potatoes. It backfires when he winds up thinking of them as people with potato bodies.
- Concrete: Fragile Creature: Concrete remembers a variation Senator Douglas used to tell him: imagine 'em on the toilet.
- In Harley Quinn #0, Harley finds herself dreaming that she is performing in front of an audience of comic book fans. She forgets her lines and tries to remember this piece of advice, but gets confused as to whether she is supposed to imagine the audience naked or herself naked. Ultimately she imagines herself naked and starts belting out her lines, only the dream changes so she is now in church.
- Used as incredible Fan Disservice in The Master.
- In The Muppets, Kermit asks Scooter to do this. Then Scooter goes out on stage and says "You are all naked!"
- Reversed in Dumb and Dumber To. Penny mistakenly believes that the saying is to picture herself in her underwear and even rehearses for her speech in her underwear.
- The stand-up comic main character in Louis Sachar's Dogs Don't Tell Jokes uses this in one of his jokes.
- In Unseen Academicals, it's noted that very few people can stand up to Mrs Whitlow, UU's terrifying housekeeper, and it is not advisable to try and imagine her naked.
- Four-year-old Prince Gareth suggests this to Beka in the third Provost's Dog book—his mother tells him to picture people in their loincloths during public functions. Beka is rather shocked since she doesn't think most people look good in that little and he admits it doesn't really work for him, he just pretends to make his mother happy. Later, he whispers the word "loincloths" when she's starting to freeze up during an elaborate royal ceremony, which makes her grin.
- In "The Scrambled States of America Talent Show," Dr. Globe suggests that Georgia (who has stage fright) try picturing the audience in their underwear. She doesn't end up doing this during the show, but after the show, she tries it anyway, just for fun.
California: Yeah, Marty. It's California. Listen, you never told me there was going to be an underwear shot!
- Gilmore Girls: Richard advises against this, he had a Squick when doing this with a audience of Bulgarians.
- In one episode of Red Dwarf, Kochanski encourages Kryten to stand up to people by imagining them on the toilet. When it actually comes down do it though, he can't manage it. So he forces them, at gunpoint, to go sit on the toilet so that he can laugh at them and have the courage to say that 'No, he does not want to be reset to factory settings'. For some unaccountable reason they decide to do it anyway.
- In the pilot episode of Shake It Up!. CeCe suggests to a nervous Rocky picturing everyone in the tryouts for Shake It Up, Chicago! naked, although Rocky is Squicked by the idea.
- It ends up backfiring when CeCe freezes on the spotlight due to Performance Anxiety and can only picture herself naked.
- On Friends, Phoebe is uncomfortable with singing to children. She suggests this strategy, but is cautioned against it, 'cause "that's sort of how the last guy was fired."
- Used in one episode of Big Wolf on Campus. Of course, Tommy gets it wrong and thinks you're supposed to imagine yourself naked.
Tommy: All you got to do is picture yourself...naked.
Lori: Tommy, you're supposed to picture the audience naked.
- Carla's trick on Cheers is to imagine the audience naked, but wearing black socks.
- Dorothy gives Rose this advice on The Golden Girls, but Rose and Blanche crack up at the thought of Dorothy naked.
- In Coupling, Patrick's advice to Jeff that he imagine his bosses naked during a big presentation almost works; Trying it out the day before, Jeff sees a big boost in confidence, but at the presentation accidentally visualises himself naked in the full length body mirror behind the desk his bosses are sitting at.
Jeff: I can't turn off the naked people!
- In fact, he practices this technique so much in preparation that it becomes an instinctive habit. Good fun when hanging around attractive ladies, not so much when attending a funeral with elderly relatives.
- In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Carey suggests this method to Cody for his big speech just as Zack literally enters the lobby in his underwear.
Cody: Hey it worked!
- The Office (US) episode "Fun Run": Pam walks in on Michael, who is using his office to change. She later comments on how picturing an audience naked is a bad idea and instead you should imagine them wearing funny winter coats.
- On The Brady Bunch, Marcia imagines her driving tester in his underwear.
- Saturday Night Live
- Guest host Pam Anderson did an opening monologue where she said (paraphrased): "I'm really neverous. They say when you're nervous you're supposed to imagine the audience naked...that's not working. Maybe you're supposed to imagine yourself naked...no, that's not working, either. Oh wait, maybe you're supposed to really be naked! (takes off clothes) Oh yes, that's much better, I'm more relaxed now." (Full transcript here)
- SNL did this trope again on the season 36 episode hosted by Jon Hamm with musical guest Rihanna. In the Digital Short, "Ronnie and Clyde" (a Bonnie and Clyde parody-cum-music video with Rihanna as Clyde and Shy Ronnie [a redheaded, mumbling nerd played by Andy Samberg), Clyde urges Ronnie to be more assertive by imagining the hostages naked. It only succeeded in giving Ronnie a Raging Stiffie.
- A similar case is in an episode of Salute Your Shorts where the group is putting on a play. Dina has bad stage fright, and Sponge advises her to picture a giant chicken at the back of the audience. On the day of the play, she begins to choke...then sees a chicken in the back of the room. Turns out it's Sponge in a costume; the trick works and the play goes as well as any play with Donkey Lips as a rapping mouse could go.
- In the Dinosaurs two-part episode "Nuts to War", there is a scene where Charlene is nervous about performing in musical act for soldiers. Her father Earl's friend Roy suggests that she overcome her fear by imagining the audience in their underwear. This causes Charlene to happily head toward the stage, but her father indignantly orders her to imagine the boys wearing pants.
- In The Zack Files, Zack is told to imagine himself in his underwear (his friend getting the advice wrong), which causes his pants, and any subsequent pants he tries to put on to disappear until he can confront his fear of not only giving a speech, but doing it in his underwear, too.
- In the spelling bee episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide Ned gives this advice to Cookie, and at the end of the episode, the entire audience inexplicably becomes all-male and actually strip to their underwear to help Cookie win the bee.
- In an episode of Home Improvement, Brad was about to appear on Tool Time and was suffering from stage fright. Heidi, who was played by Debbie Dunning, advised him to picture everyone in their underwear. For clarification; his boss's extremely attractive co-worker told a teenage boy to think about people in their underwear. Brad gets a sort of stunned look on his face while the audience laughs.
Tim: The first time I did Tool Time, I was petrified, so I tried to picture the audience as just one person.
- There was also the episode "Look Who's Not Talking" when Jill was nervous about giving a speech and Tim tried to give her this advice, but she wasn't in the mood for it:
Jill: The first time you did Tool Time, there was just one person.
Tim: That's not the point. So I tried to visualize that person in his underwear.
Jill: He was in his underwear.
Tim: He was not!
- In one of the JAG episodes introducing the NCIS characters, Abby is advised by Major McBurney (who's prosecuting a murder case in which Harm is the accused) that she'll have to testify in court, and she mentions how nervous she gets having to testify "in front of all those military uniforms."
McBurney: Some advice? Try an old standard. Picture all those uniforms naked.
Abby: Including you?
- An episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer features this trope in Season 1 when the high school is holding a talent show.
Cordelia: I, I can't go out there. All those people staring at me and judging me like I'm some kind of... Buffy! What if I mess up?
Giles: Cordelia, there, uh, there-there's, uh, uh, an adage, uh, that, uh, if you're feeling nervous then, uh, you should imagine the entire audience are in their underwear.
Cordelia: Eww! Even Mrs. Franklin? Uhhh!
Giles: Perhaps not.
- Anya ends up Comically Missing the Point when she suggests that Buffy deal with anxiety on her first day of work by imagining herself naked.
- Angel. Kate Lockley is nervous about giving a speech for her father's retirement party. Angel suggests she try "that old saw about imagining people in their underwear". Kate's eyes flick downward to check out Angel's body and she mutters "Way ahead of you."
Barney: I'm sensing a little performance anxiety here. Little trick, picture everybody__
- And in "Parting Gifts"
Cordelia: In their underwear.
Barney: I was going to say dead, but hey, if that underwear thing works for you...
- Kyle tells this to Synclaire in an episode of Living Single but since Synclaire will be naked in her performance he adds, "However, in this case, perhaps you should imagine yourself in your underwear" and dissolves into laughter.
- In the fourth season of The Shield, Glenn Close's character Captain Monica Rawling is nervous delivering a speech to the other police. Vic tells her that normally you're supposed to imagine the audience naked but "with this audience, I wouldn't recommend it."
- Glee's Lauren Zizes wants to perform a number for the club in "Comeback", but is nervous. Puck tells her to imagine the audience in their underwear. Hilarity, naturally, ensues. Everything's fine◊, until the camera hits Sue◊. As a tip, don't drink anything while viewing this scene.
- In Blossom, Blossom is panicking over having to debate the captain of another school's debate team, until she takes this advice. She loses the debate on a technicality due to breaking an unspoken taboo about mentioning vomit, but is extremely pleased with her newfound confidence, nonetheless. The situation is subverted when Blossom's older brother is struck mute meeting a dozen Playboy Bunnies. When Blossom's eldest brother tells him to "picture them naked," the boy predictably faints from the overpoweringly sexy visual image.
- Thelma tries this in an episode of Amen. It backfires and makes her even more nervous and uncomfortable.
- One experiment in Brainiac: Science Abuse involved a Brainiac going to a job interview, first with the interviewers dressed as normal, and then in their underwear. The Brainiac failed both times, as he was intimidated by how the staff kept their cool even when half-naked.
- One episode of Duck Dynasty sees Willie delivering a speech, where he cites this bit of advice. He then realizes that he's speaking at a Senior Center filled with old ladies, and decides that he's going to imagine everyone with more clothes.
- Whitney: When Alex is going to be guest speaker at a university, Whitney tells him to do this. Then, realising the audience will be filled with attractive coeds, she adds "Except the women". She tells him to imagine them looking disappointed.
- On Who's the Boss?, Tony gives this advice to a classmate when he has to give a presentation, but it backfires when he starts leering at the attractive girls in the class and ignoring the unattractive men, all the while oblivious to the questions that both sets of people are trying to ask.
- Roger gives Paige this advice in a FoxTrot strip. It doesn't work, as her reaction is, "Wowza! It's just like a Chippendale show!"
- Dilbert is given this advice by Dogbert, before giving a speech to a group of engineers. It backfires when he apparently needs Brain Bleach after what his imagination shows him.
Dogbert: Whoa! Cancel that. I just pictured four hundred naked engineers.
Dilbert: Too late.
- Subverted in another strip. "Imagine that you're naked and the audience is full of Mary Kay salespeople with camcorders"
- In Cul de Sac. Petey is nervous about an upcoming oboe recital - his mom gives him this advice and he looks horrified. She sighs "Okay, okay! Stop imagining!" He wails "I CAN'T!"
- An Insanity Streak strip had a speaker at a nudist convention telling himself "Imagine them clothed! Imagine them clothed!".
- In Bat Boy: The Musical, Meredith reassures Shelley about taking Bat Boy to the tent revival, telling her to "just imagine (the townsfolk) in their underwear".
- In the musical When Midnight Strikes, waitress/resting actress Josephina advises nervous party guest Edward to do this. After a few seconds silence as he can't stop staring at her, she storms off with a disgusted 'Dude, not me!'
- From a Spooky Séance in Sam & Max: "Mortimer Moleman, your entrance is cuuuuuued! To conquer your stage fright, just picture us nuuuuuude!"
- In an optional Hyperdimension Neptunia skit, IF suggests that Idol Singer/radio celebrity 5pb try this out when she's on stage so that she doesn't feel nervous performing with them.
- Referenced in Mass Effect 3
Joker: Man, those quarian admirals are intimidating. And if you get nervous, you can't even imagine them naked because...who knows? It's a tentacle monster under there? What is that, what's under there?
- Fire Emblem Fates has Xander mention a variant of this when giving advice to his son Siegbert. He apparently still suffers from nerves in front of crowds. So how does he get past this?
"...Bunnies. Whenever the people's beseeching eyes caused me to lose my nerve... I would imagine them as bunnies. Even the most chickenhearted, after all, never shrank from a bunny's stare."
- In Spider-Man (PS4), shortly before Officer Jefferson Davis is to be publicly awarded a medal of bravery by Mayor Norman Osborn, he contacts Spidey about his nerves for the expectation that he'll have to give a speech afterwards. Spidey initially suggests this trope, but then realises to his disgust that this would include picturing Osborn naked as well, so he drops the notion.
- In the webcomic Nip and Tuck, shy porcupine Zelda is uncomfortable with interviewing her childhood crush Nip. Charlotte says, in jest, this trope. Then Nip swam across the pool. The last three strips show Zelda grinning and blushing more and more, but not without escaping the notice of Charlotte.
- In the Brat-Halla, Hod's stage fright causes his powers to go awry. One guy has everybody present strip to the underwear, until he's reminded that Hod is blind.
- Notfunny Cartoons has a really, really weird subversion; a man comes to a job interview, only to find out that the interviewers are actually naked so he can't imagine they were, just to spite him. (His comment? "Aww.") It has to be seen to be believed (although it's only available in German right now).
- In TwoKinds, Laura walks in on Keith, whom his brother had just convinced to model for a nude statue. Just as Alaric had planned: he was sincere in wanting to finish the statue, but chose his timing for maximum awkwardness.
Laura: (thinking) O-oh no! I... I imagined too hard!
- The same in Freefall, Thurmad is nervous about meeting Florence (an uplifted wolf) because he's just been watching a werewolf movie. He scolds himself for too much imagination and tells himself to imagine her in her underwear. Which she is.
- In Think Before You Think, Julia imagines the audience in their underwear and it doesn't work, so she tries different methods. She ends up picturing the audience in baby clothes, only to find that her imagination has gone a bit too far and re-dressed herself as well. 
- In Two Guys and Guy, Wayne tries it but it does little good for him.
- Grrl Power invokes and averts the trope here.
General Faulk: And don't bother trying to imagine us in our underwear, 'cause we're all dead sexy.
- It's the Tie! had a strip entitled "Glossophobia", where a man nervous about speaking in front of an audience considers imagining the audience naked and decides he'll do so. The last panel reveals he's the costumed host of a Barney the Dinosaur parody.
- In 5 Second Films's "Jon Worley Gives a Speech", Brian gives this advice to Jon... who is giving a speech on fighting obesity at the Burn Unit.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Digital Series: "Fluttershy's Butterflies" has Fluttershy seeking help overcoming stage fright. In the "Ask Applejack" ending, Applejack advises her to imagine that everyone in the audience is a chicken. Fluttershy ends up imagining the audience is full of Applejack clones cheering her on, which works just fine, and Applejack is relieved because her backup plan apparently involved releasing actual chickens into the audience.
- The Simpsons:
- In the episode "Homer Defined", Homer becomes a hero after accidentally saving the power plant. When he's invited to give a speech about how he did it, he imagines the audience in their underwear, then shrieks and hides behind the podium because he imagined himself in his underwear, too.
- In another episode, Homer is hired by Mr. Burns to help him write an important speech, due to the fact that at the time he was hired, Homer had been using medical marijuana and found everything funny. Since he was clean now, and no longer found Burns funny, Marge suggests Homer picture Mr. Burns naked, resulting in him screaming. Trying to make the situation better, she then changes it to picturing him in a funny hat. This idea is worse, causing Homer to curl up in a ball shuddering.
- Happens in an episode of The Replacements with the twist that one of the audience [Shelton] actually is sitting there in his underwear.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- In the episode "Squilliam Returns", while Squidward tries to stand up to his rival, Squidward imagines Squilliam in his underwear, only to discover that Squilliam is really, really buff.
Squidward: Oh no, he's hot!
- In the episode "Oral Report", Sandy gives SpongeBob special goggles that let him see people in their underwear so he can get over his fear of speaking in public. Unfortunately, Patrick breaks them, which makes it seem as if the underwear come to life and heckle SpongeBob.
- In the episode "Squilliam Returns", while Squidward tries to stand up to his rival, Squidward imagines Squilliam in his underwear, only to discover that Squilliam is really, really buff.
- At one point in Rocko's Modern Life the turtle, Filbert, can't realize his dreams of becoming a lounge singer because of stage fright. He's given this advice. It doesen't work. ("It's just too disgusting!" "Euw, you're right...") Until he's asked to perform at a club hosting a nudists' convention...
- Sam does this on an episode of Rocket Power. Nervous about asking some classmates for a favor, he says to himself "picture the audience in their underwear." Unfortunately, he does it backwards, picturing himself standing in front of them in his underwear. It works anyway, as he says to himself, "Close enough."
- When Stan on American Dad! revealed he had never killed anyone to his colleagues, and Roger, decided to help him, setting up several scenarios for him to pop his killing cherry, as they termed it. One had this advice.
Ray: If you start to get nervous, imagine them naked. You start to get really nervous, make them get naked. Still nervous? You get naked; you can do whatever you want, you're killing these people!
- Apparently Tina in Bob's Burgers is so awkward and nervous when talking in public because she's always picturing everyone naked, at all times (Or she is just a pervert). Her brother Gene advised her to imagine audience with clothes.
- Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby try this on Pops to get him to get over his speaking nerves. Pops shows great discomfort at picturing Mordecai and Rigby naked... despite the fact that they both never wear any clothes in the first place.
- Dinosaur Train has an amusing inversion - when one character is nervous about public speaking, another suggests "Try imagining them with clothes on."
- The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Triangle", Leslie tells Darwin to test this in the cafeteria. It first works, but then Mr. Small drops things and when he bends to pick them up, his butt gets very close to Darwin's face. Darwin gets terrified.