If you fear the idea of getting up in front of a group of people and acting, you are not alone. Millions of people suffer from performance anxiety, commonly called "stage fear." Athletes, musicians, actors, and public speakers often have performance anxiety, as it is also known. Performance anxiety can prevent you from doing what you enjoy and can affect your career. Worst of all, performance anxiety can negatively affect your self-esteem and self-confidence. Although it may be impossible to totally overcome performance anxiety, there are many things we can do to control your emotions and reduce anxiety.
What is Stage Fear?
Performance anxiety or stage fear is the most common phobia in the United States. Anyone whose activity draws the attention of an audience, large or small, may experience performance anxiety. Performance anxiety is most often experienced as fear of public speaking. However, people whose career or other interests require them to go on "stage" for other purposes, ie, actors, musicians, athletes, etc., will experience stage fright as an impediment to their own particular activity. Although treatable, many people simply suffer with it, with all the limitations and negative emotions it imposes. They don't realize that help is available; they fear not being helped; or they think it will be too difficult.
Types of Stage Fear
Some people go to great lengths to avoid any chance of being "on stage." These people generally manage to avoid introductions, but often regret the way this fear controls their life choices. There are others whose anxiety for performance is less extreme. They don't let fear dictate their main career and life choices. But they strive to avoid occasional introductions. They usually keep their fear a secret and try to find ways to avoid it. As a result, they never feel safe. The problem hangs over his head for long periods of his life, even though they rarely give a presentation. Then there are those whose professional success has led to the need for public speaking, even though they would rather avoid it.
Lawyers, engineers, architects, authors, doctors, teachers, and others whose work has become so successful that they are increasingly sought after and pressured to present their talents and knowledge to an audience. And finally, there are people who are passionate about creative expression. In this group we find artists, musicians, singers, actors, comedians, professional speakers and athletes. Neither of them is immune to performance anxiety.
Symptoms of Stage Fear
Being the center of attention and having all eyes on you can be stressful. The body reacts to this situation in the same way that it would if it were attacked. The "fight or flight" mechanism is activated, which is why the symptoms of stage fear are similar to the symptoms that occur when we are in real danger. Performance anxiety symptoms may include:
- Rapid pulse and rapid breathing
- Dry mouth and tight throat
- Trembling of hands, knees, lips and voice.
- Cold, sweaty hands
- Nausea and feeling sick to the stomach.
- Changes in vision
Preparing to Speak in Public
Stress and anxiety about performance versus people causes performance anxiety. Facing fears and vulnerabilities, accepting yourself as you are and not feeling like you have to prove yourself before others is the first step in overcoming performance anxiety. Keep in mind that no one is perfect, no one expects you to be perfect, and it is okay to make mistakes. You must learn to redirect your negative thoughts, beliefs, images, and predictions about how to act in public. Doing this is not as difficult as you might think. Here are some suggestions on how to get over it.
Know the material
No matter how conversational you are in casual face-to-face interactions, there is always something overly intimidating and strange about being in front of a group. However, getting to know the material in depth will help you to start speaking with confidence and without fear of the questions that may arise. It also helps to be enthusiastic.
In addition to knowing the material so that it is right on the tip of the tongue, rehearsing its delivery is essential. Again, it is not recommended to just get out there and start talking without practicing many times. Do this in front of a mirror to control your facial expression and body language so you can get an idea of when and how often to move. It shows that you are comfortable with your skin and can relate to the audience. Once you are satisfied, you can give your speech in front of a friend, family member, or coworker. It also helps to put the general outline of the speech on cards. Be sure to check it out before the actual speech.
Visualize the best result
There is tremendous power in imagining a positive outcome, whatever the situation or activity. It is the power of positive thinking or of seeing yourself as successful. When you frame the future in this way, you provide motivation and increase self-confidence in the process.
If you have time, go to a quiet room to close your eyes and do a brief mindful meditation. Allow your thoughts to come and go and focus only on the sound of your breath going in and out. This will relieve anxiety, tension and stress and help you prepare for the next item on the agenda: your speech in front of the audience. This technique works even if the audience is family or friends and you are about to say something that may not be particularly pleasant or welcome.If you have time, go to a quiet room to close your eyes and do a brief mindful meditation.
Allow your thoughts to come and go and focus only on the sound of your breath going in and out. This will relieve anxiety, tension and stress and help you prepare for the next item on the agenda: your speech in front of the audience. This technique works even if the audience is family or friends and you are about to say something that may not be particularly pleasant or welcome.
Take a deep breath before speaking
Although it is normal to feel butterflies in the stomach, there is a quick remedy to solve this discomfort. Take a deep breath before opening your mouth to speak. Deep breathing helps you calm your nerves and reduce stress.
See yourself as someone else
This is a tried and true approach to allaying fear of public speaking. Think of yourself as an actor on stage playing a role. When you can separate yourself from the speaker and embrace someone else's inner personality, it's not so intimidating to be on stage.
Depending on the situation and the reason for your speech, you should expect interruptions. Someone may have a question or there may be an unexpected shortage of energy. Expect the unexpected and you won't be surprised.
Anticipate questions and prepare to answer them
In business situations, just like in media events, questions are the norm. As a speaker, you will be asked for their opinion, to clarify a comment, add information, or evaluate an apparently strange or irrelevant point of view. Going back to the first recommendation to learn about the material, once you feel comfortable with the information it is providing, you should have the necessary answers. If not, you can say that you will obtain them and provide them to the applicant in a reasonable period of time. If the question is not relevant to the event or is inappropriate in some way, please say so and move on to the next question.
It gets easier and easier
It is easier to be the speaker the more you do it. And easier to overcome stage fright every time. Preparation is always the key. Furthermore, the more detailed planning be in speech and essay, most likely you'll succeed. You may still experience a momentary scare, but you will have the tools to conquer it and achieve your goal.
Tips to combat performance anxiety
Here are some additional tips to help you overcome your stage fright and shine on stage, in the field or on the podium in your dissertation:
- Limit the consumption of caffeine and sugar the day of the presentation.
- Eat a sensible meal a few hours before defending so you have energy and are not hungry. A low-fat meal that includes complex carbohydrates (whole wheat pasta, lentil soup, yogurt, or a bean and rice burrito) is a good option.
- Change the focus of yourself and your fear of enjoyment that you are bringing to viewers.
- Close your eyes and imagine the audience laughing and cheering, and you'll feel good.
- Don't focus on what could go wrong. Instead, focus on the positive. Visualize your success.
- Avoid thoughts that cast doubt on yourself.
- Practice controlled breathing, meditation, biofeedback, and other strategies to help you relax and redirect your thoughts when they become negative.
- Go for a walk, jump up and down, shake your muscles, or do whatever is right to ease your feelings of anxiety before the performance.
- Connect with your audience: smile, make eye contact and think of them as friends.
- Act naturally and be yourself.
- Keep in mind that stage fear is usually worse before the performance, and often disappears once it starts.
You can manage your relationship with stage fear by working with it instead of running away and allowing it to take you to the "zone" of peak performance described by professionals around the world. Taking into consideration the mental and physical strategies to transform your nervous energy into directed energy before and during your presentation, you can enjoy this moment being the center of attention. And when your thesis is developed with all the parameters of structure and quality, demanded worldwide, you do not have to feel stage fright. And at Online-tesis.com, we are here to fulfill them.
Caral, J. y González B. (2013). Efectos de la PNL sobre el miedo escénico de estudiantes universitarios. Opción, Año 29, nº 71, pp. 90-106.
Olivares, J. y García López, L. J. (2002). Resultados a largo plazo de un tratamiento en grupo para el miedo a hablar en público. Psicothema,
Toral Madariaga, G. (2008). Comunicación emocional y miedo escénico en radio y televisión. Colombia: Signo y Pensamiento 52, volumen X17.
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