Emotional Wellbeing TED-Ed Series | The Science of Stage Fright and How to Overcome It

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Your body is tense, shaking, perspiring, dry mouth, pupils dilating, butterflies in your stomach and you can’t read your notes. Stage fright! What’s it all about? What do I do?

Almost everyone suffers stage fright

Well known performers – Adele, Jennifer Lawrence, Beyonce- suffer to a greater or lesser extent with stage fright. Why though,  when their fans adore them and they can do no wrong?

How many ‘fathers of the bride’ dread making a wedding speech? The worrying thought of making a presentation at work can lead to sleepless nights.  You’re on your feet, with everyone looking at you… waiting for your performance.

Fight or Flight?

Will you freeze? Will you exceed your expectations? How will you be judged?

You’re on your feet, and kicking-in is the natural fight or flight reaction, or acute stress response, that needs to be overcome.

In such situations our body physically reacts, and the hormone adrenaline is soon flowing into our blood stream. Our body activates those fight or flight changes. Heart rate increases, blood vessels contract and air passages dilate. Let me out!

We know it is just a speech, or a part in a play, or song performance, but we know the consequences on our reputation of a poor performance. Even more so if it is work related presentation and pay rise or promotion prospects are at risk. Even a job interview is a performance, and stage fright can strike.

Practice, practice practice

To adapt to stage fright we need to accept the fight or flight process and accept that we all react differently to its onset, prior to the performance and during.

To reduce anxiety we need to practice the performance repeatedly so that it is very familiar and we can give a brilliant performance. Being effortlessly word perfect and knowing exactly what you are going to sing or say, you can confidently relax and concentrate on the quality of the performance.  However, there might be times where it’s not possible to practice our performance – for example when meeting with friend, family or colleagues.  If you’re noticing problems in these types of situations that it might be the case that you’re experiencing Social Anxiety Disorder, and that a course of Therapy might be helpful to you.



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