How to Conquer Stage Fright

Topics: Social anxiety, Public speaking, Anxiety Pages: 16 (6071 words) Published: August 13, 2010
Stage fright or performance anxiety is the anxiety, fear, or persistent phobia which may be aroused in an individual by the requirement to perform in front of an audience, whether actually or potentially (for example, when performing before a camera). In the context of public speaking, this fear is termed glossophobia, one of the most common of phobias. Such anxiety may precede or accompany participation in any activity involving public self-presentation. Performance anxiety may often be observed among such public performers as athletes and musicians. Here, it is manifested as a fear of "underperforming" (whether in the estimation of the viewing public or that of later critical reaction). In some cases stage fright may be a part of a larger pattern of social phobia or social anxiety disorder, but many people experience stage fright without any wider problems. Quite often, stage fright arises in a mere anticipation of a performance, often a long time ahead. It has numerous manifestations: fluttering or pounding heart, tremor in the hands and legs, diarrhea, facial nerve tics, dry mouth. Stage fright may be observed in people of all experience and background, from beginners to professionals. Some musicians use beta blockers to avoid stage fright during auditions, and performances.[1] In other cases, performers use alcoholic beverages to ease their stage fright. There have been many cases in which this habit has led to alcoholism. Causes and solutions

Anxiety causes negative effects of the performance quality in many different situations: examinations, job interviews, athletic performance. In the 1980s, Barrell, Medeiros, Barrell and Price conducted an experiment on performance anxiety, employing the methods self-observing, self-reporting and self-discovering.[2] This way, five causal elements were found to be present in the experience of performance anxiety: (1) I perceive or imagine the presence of significant others who are able to judge me. One possible solution to performance anxiety could be that of reducing the significance of the other person(s). While experiencing performance anxiety, we often invest the others with imagined power, especially in their ability to affect us through their evaluation of our performance. Ways to reduce this imagined power is to increase the sense of one’s own power, to perceive the vulnerability of others and to accept oneself. (2) I consider the possibility of my visible failure at a task. Another possible solution to performance anxiety would be to eliminate the imagination of negative possibilities. A negative outcome is always possible, but that does not justify worrying about it before it occurs. Focusing one’s attention on the present, rather than the future, is much more productive. A way to do this is monitoring our own performance. (3) I feel a need to do well to avoid failure.

A third solution to performance anxiety is holding the performance in perspective by seeing its outcome as insignificant in relation to the totality of one’s life. By realizing that nothing catastrophic is likely to occur, the need to avoid failure may decrease and switch to a more positive goal. An example of a positive goal would be to provide others with pleasure. Furthermore, it is helpful to focus on the process, the moment-to-moment experience, rather than the results of a performance. Additionally, it is important to concentrate on the enjoyable aspect of the process. The stage fear in children can be cured by the following points * give more confidence by showing them the items

* don't make them panic
* show them how others are performing it
(4) I feel uncertain as to whether I will do well.
Uncertainty plays a major role in experiencing many forms of anxiety. It could be helpful to keep in mind that one cannot control other’s reactions or judgments, but only one’s own performance. (5) I focus on my own behavior and appearance.

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