The Cure for Stage Fright

  • SumoMe

Stage fright curePerhaps you know the feeling.  The tightness that grips your stomach.  The racing heart. The sweaty palms. The shaking hands or legs.

All physical symptoms of the fear of public speaking.

The intuitive approach is to try to calm yourself. While some deep breaths are a good idea (you do need oxygen to your brain!), telling yourself to calm down isn’t.

Several experiments have shown that telling yourself to get excited rather than trying to relax can improve your performance during anxiety-inducing activities such as public speaking.

“In one experiment, 140 participants (63 men and 77 women) were told to prepare a persuasive public speech on why they would be good work partners. To increase anxiety, a researcher videotaped the speeches and said they would be judged by a committee. Before delivering the speech, participants were instructed to say “I am excited” or “I am calm.” The subjects who said they were excited gave longer speeches and were more persuasive, competent and relaxed than those who said they were calm, according to ratings by independent evaluators.”

Read the Journal of Experimental Psychology article

There are several ways you can get excited shortly before speaking:

Verbalization:  Say, with feeling, “I am exited!” and other phrases, such as, “I can’t wait to give them my message!”  or, “I’m about to change their lives!”

Thoughts:  You can verbalize in your mind, if not out loud.

Visualization:  Visualize yourself as excited and dynamic before an audience.

Physically:  Get your heart going on purpose!  Jog in place.  Breath more deeply and faster, like you are about to dive into water.  Stand tall with excitement.

Music:  Listen to upbeat music.

How do you get excited?

Additional posts on managing the fear of public speaking:

Manage the fear: The Inner Game

Manage the fear:  The Outer Game

Get Excited and Carry on

One thought on “The Cure for Stage Fright

  1. Great post Diane! I still get stage fright and do all of the above. I didn’t know about the study re: calm versus excited. Also, I don’t just listen to upbeat music, I dance to it. Good to get the body in motion!

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