None of us are alien to sweaty palms, shaky knees and quivering voice when required to face a crowd, be it a wedding toast, some type of competition or a PowerPoint presentation for a meeting. In such cases, you might be posed with the question “Do I have stage Fright?”. Most people have some sort of performance anxiety, colloquially known as ‘Stage Fear’. One might be required to publicly speak at various points in their life, but with stage fright in the way, a lot can be at stake. Knowing how to tackle this problem will surely save you a lot of embarrassment.
What is Stage Fright?
Stage fright, sometimes referred to as performance anxiety, is an overwhelming fear that a person experiences when performing in front of an audience or even when thinking about performing in front of an audience. As a result, it can negatively affect your self-confidence and self-esteem, even forcing you to step down from great opportunities if public speaking may be involved. Even people, like Adele or Rihanna, who have to face large crowds on a regular basis are known to suffer from performance anxiety. While stage fear is not considered a phobia, extreme fear of public speaking is known as glossophobia.
Symptoms of Stage Fright
If you have stage fright, it’s more than possible that you’ll experience certain symptoms.
- Shaky voice, hands, knees
- Feel tense and fidgety
- Increased sweating
- Increased heart rate
- Gastrointestinal problems, like nausea and/or stomach pain
These symptoms vary depending on the severity.
“Some people might experience dry throats or forget the content for their performance, while some others might even blackout from the pressure. Different people experience performance anxiety in different ways”Dr Henna Dey
How to Overcome Stage Fright
Preparation is key. Be as prepared as you can be. Being sure of what you are performing will only enhance your confidence, and having a clear idea of the situation and the series of events that might unfold will reinforce this surety. Practising in front of a mirror and/or visualising the space you’ll be in while performing often prove helpful in preparing you for the public speaking task.
Before getting on stage, stretch your body, plan and follow breathing and relaxation techniques. These can help calm your nerves. If possible, have your material with you at hand and be sure of what you will be presenting. Dr Hena also advices trying to make a connection with your audience while performing. Making eye-contact with your audience is a great technique to form and maintain this connection.
In this manner, you acknowledge your audience and you feel like you are merely talking to a person, making the audience less intimidating for you. And as always, if you feel you can’t help yourself with stage fright, it is always best to talk to professionals. Consulting a mental health professional can help you find your way to overcame stage fright.