It is known as performance anxiety or more colloquially, it is stage fright that can besiege so many of us – when we go up on a stage or in front of a room full of people or when we have to pose before a camera. These situations seem to bring out the worst in some of us. Why is this and what can we do about it?
Symptoms of stage fright or performance anxiety
Some people may experience stage fright as part of a larger problem such as a social anxiety disorder or a social phobia but some seem to have it for no reason. A persistent and acute form of stage fright is known as glossophobia which is speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking.
The symptoms of stage fright may manifest even at the thought of the situation and may trouble a person much in advance of the actual event.
A person may have a pounding heart, sweaty palms, trembling of the hands and legs and so on. Facial nerve tics and even digestive problems such as diarrhea could manifest as a result of the dread that the situation could bring about. Erectile dysfunction could also be a result of performance anxiety.
Though stage fright may manifest itself more often in school situations, public speaking situations also arise later in life: making a presentation at work, making a sales pitch, making a toast at a wedding or a farewell speech. The situations that cause stage fright can be many.
Tips to get over stage fright
1. Be well prepared
Make sure that you are well prepared for whatever it is you have to do. If you have to give a presentation, make sure you have all the facts and figures at your fingertips and that you have structured your presentation sequentially. If it’s a speech you have to give, go through the whole thing and practice before a mirror.
2. Learn relaxation techniques
Breathe deeply and steadily to calm yourself. Learn a motivational or inspirational mantra which you can repeat to yourself to encourage yourself and give your self-confidence a boost.
3. Imagine your audience in their underwear
Mind this one works only for some people because it makes them see some humor in the situation and helps take their mind off the weight of job at hand. It can help a person feel less intimated by people in the audience if they perceive people in their audience in vulnerable or less than dignified positions. If possible inject some humor into your performance, to help yourself relax and get a few laughs from your audience which will further boost your confidence.
4. Concentrate on getting through the first 5 minutes
Most cases of stage fright are worst when you begin. So try and focus on getting through the first 5 minutes after which you’ll have got into your rhythm and may well be feeling quite confident.
5. Remember everyone makes mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes and no one will judge you for a few minor bloopers. Many people experience some amount of trepidation in public situations so there will be many who identify and sympathize with you. And if you do make a couple of mistakes, it’s really not the end of the world!