If you’d asked me: “Do you cure stage fright?” I would say: Yes I do, if only you follow my tips with great seriousness. I’ve been a public speaker for decades now and as a hobby musician too, I know the ordeal of stage fright. The bad news is, it usually doesn’t go away with more practice. But the good news is, you can cope with this special kind of stress and turn it into a source of power. The key lies in managing your emotions under pressure.
Blackout – basic mechanism for protection
Stage fright is omnipresent. Be it in the classical situation of a stage performance as a musician, actor, speaker etc., be it during an exam or be it before and during a date with your big love. In every case, your limbic system in the brain interprets the situation as clear and present danger and starts the vicious circle of stress. Since fight or flight is no option, the only autonomous reaction left is freeze. The prefrontal cortex is turned down, you’re experiencing a total blackout and loosing the ability to show your full potential. Additional effort only makes it worse.
Three steps in light of acute stage fright
As with all emotionally triggered symptoms, the first step towards a solution starts with acceptance. Look in the mirror and say to yourself: “Yes, I’m totally nervous and just about to freak out. I’ve gotcold sweating on my hands, a dry mouth, a pounding heart and I can’t think clearly. But that’s ok, a normal reaction. Take a deap breath, you’re gonna make it!”
Now follow these three steps, that get you out of the freezing state:
- Conscious and deep breathing: see my post Best Ways Relieve Stress – energy of breathing.
- Imagine a bubble around you: Put yourself in a bubble or cocoon protecting you from all kinds of outside threats. Now you’re in a safe place, nothing can harm you. In addition to that, wherever you are, standing or sitting, make this place your friend. Click on the image above for inspiration.
- Draw a lemniscate ∞: you can do it with a finger on the table, a pencil on paper or with both hands in the air. It connects both hemispheres of your brain, improves coordination and brings you back into balance.
In the first video you’ll find this brain gym exercise, unfortunately only in german. The second gives you an overview in English.
A long term cure
I leave you with great tip for long term cure. It has been proven very effective many times, what I can confirm from my own experience.
- Write a journal, esp. before important challenging tasks. Write everything down what you think and feel in that moment without censoring it. That alone takes away the pressure.
- Meditate and get to your own center. Try a method that suits you, observing what comes to your mind and perceiving the source of vitality within you. Cultivate the cocoon image, so it’s strong enough when you need it.
Take it easy and let me know, what you discovered!