Last Updated on September 10, 2022 by Larious
Being nervous about speaking in front of an audience, or “stage fright,” is a common anxiety disorder. The signs of anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways. They have the potential to be very incapacitating in extreme cases. Some people may appear confident in front of an audience, but still have symptoms of stage fright.
How common is stage fright?
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 73% of the population has this dread, making it the most often reported fear.
Even persons who are used to performing or giving speeches in front of large audiences can experience performance anxiety. One common experience shared by many famous people is feelings of insecurity or anxiety. While some people can simply avoid situations where they would have to talk or perform in front of an audience (and so have to confront their fear of doing so), others must deal with it constantly.
Where and when does stage fright occur?
Anxiety about how you’re doing in front of an audience is what we call “performance anxiety,” and it may strike anywhere. Even if you consider yourself to be naturally talented at public speaking or performance, you may still experience this anxiety. It can occur both in front of huge crowds and in front of much smaller groups or even one-on-one in situations such as work meetings, job interviews, phone calls, speeches, or even being in a class.
How to get over your stage fright in 10 steps
In order to conquer stage fear, one must put in a conscious effort, have clear goals, and engage in regular practice. Help won’t appear miraculously out of thin air. Although you may never develop a genuine fondness for public speaking, you may certainly improve your ease and assurance in doing so. When dealing with stress, most people use a combination of coping mechanisms.
Here are 10 suggestions for overcoming stage fright:
Consult a therapist
Speaking with a therapist about your performance anxiety can help you get to the bottom of what’s triggering it and any other issues you may be struggling with. Stage fear, for instance, might develop after a stressful event. Or maybe the anxiety is so severe that it’s disrupting your daily life.
The standard of care for anxiety disorders is generally accepted to be cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
This therapy will assist you in retraining your unconscious mind to think differently about your fear of public speaking. Medication for anxiety may be advised for more extreme situations. Your therapist may be able to make a recommendation for a psychiatrist who can best help you.
Get some practice in
Get to know your subject by reading up on it. You should put in as much time as possible practicing so that it eventually becomes second nature. If you can, try your new skills out on friends and family and see what they think. Get their honest feedback on your strengths and areas for development.
Repeat a positive mantra
A little self-talk before stepping into a tough circumstance can do you good. If you’re having trouble keeping things simple, try coming up with a mantra.
Here are a few examples of inspiring mantras:
- No matter how anxious I am, I always project an air of confidence.
- I deserve to be heard.
- It’s going to do a fantastic job!
Imagine good things happening regularly
People can improve their performances and their sense of self-assurance via the practice of positive visualization. One research indicated that athletes could lift an extra 10 to 15 pounds if they imagined themselves completing the exercise perfectly.
Try visualizing yourself accomplishing the frightening, difficult activity and feeling proud of yourself when you do. How do you picture it? Try focusing your mind on the scene without looking at it. Imagine yourself at ease in front of a large and appreciative crowd. Envision feeling completely unburdened.
Take some deep breaths
Taking slow, deep breaths sends messages to the nervous system to ease tension. The adrenaline your brain releases when it detects danger can be mitigated using these cues. In this case, slowing your breathing can help lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
Take a deep breath through your nose and hold it for five counts to practice deep breathing. You should exhale completely through your mouth and hold for a full five seconds. Several times, please. As you do this exercise, your abdominal muscles will flex and relax.
Stay away from caffeine and other mood-altering drugs
Some people believe that caffeine in coffee can help them feel more alert. You could also be tempted to reach for an alcoholic beverage to help you relax. You should exercise caution with these practices because the use of any chemical that alters mood might exacerbate nervousness and increase anxiety. If you’re feeling anxious, it’s better not to do anything that can throw you off your game. However, it is always advisable to at least attempt to eat something (even if you feel a bit nauseous). Energy will flow more freely after eating a nutritious snack or supper.
Zero in on your material
If people are watching you, they are likely doing so for one of two reasons: education or entertainment. In other words, they aren’t really there for you, but rather for what you can provide them.
Keep this in mind the next time you are anxious about your nerves showing. Fine-tune your content. Focus on giving them just what they need right now. Though they may pick up on your nerves, your audience will be preoccupied on the information being conveyed or received. Therefore, it’s likely that they’ll cheer for your achievements as well.
If something is working, keep doing it
Don’t choose the day of your presentation to break out the sky-high heels you never wear on a regular basis. Don’t pretend to enjoy cracking jokes only to appear more socially acceptable.
Instead, focus on refining what you’ve previously found to be successful. The necessity to take calculated risks justifies stepping beyond of one’s safety zone. But try not to make too many abrupt adjustments all at once; doing so is likely to make you feel even more uneasy.
Engage in frequent public-speaking practice
Your ability to overcome stage fright will improve if you put yourself in circumstances where you will be challenged. Make it a point to contribute more of your thoughts and ideas to group discussions. Make yourself available to attend business lunches and take charge of presentations. If you’re going to a spin class, the best place to sit is upfront.
By putting yourself in these situations frequently, you can build up a tolerance and eventually overcome your fear of them. After getting to know yourself better, your feelings won’t be as overwhelming.
Check-in with yourself after the presentation
Afterwards, you should think on the positive aspects of your presentation. You should list at least two or three successes, no matter how insignificant they may appear.
It seems sense to think about ways you can better yourself. Be kind to yourself as you do this. You are a developing and learning person; self-flagellation will only make you feel worse about your humiliation.
Most people suffer from some degree of performance anxiety or stage fright, and it’s a real bummer when it happens. Therapy, reaching out to others, and developing healthy coping mechanisms can all help. There are ways to reduce your performance nerves and increase your self-assurance.