Fear of Public Speaking
“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”– Mark Twain on the fear of public speaking.
Fear of public speaking is the common known fear in almost every individual. Most of us at some time or the other in our lives have performed in front of a live audience. It could be due voluntarily, or we may have been forced into it due to peer pressure, or a professor’s choice, but we have done it. Some excel in it, riding on the waves of emotion and applause from the crowd and become hits. Most don’t. More often than not, most of us suffer from a bout of nervousness and anxiety just as we are about to hit the stage. But once the initial jitters pass, most of us can at least complete the show with some amount of confidence and calm. It’s a common phenomenon which even most actors have suffered from in their lives.
However, there are some people who are unable to get over their initial nerves, those initial jitters, and they get a crippling sense of anxiety and nervousness as they begin their show, be it in performing a play in front of an audience, a musical performance, or even some sporting event. If looking at the sea of spectators causes you to get all nervous and anxious, and instead of passing soon, if it develops into self-doubt and tension, you are probably suffering from performance anxiety, commonly known as stage fear.
Interesting facts about the fear of Public speaking.
Public speaking is said to be the greatest fear of many American adults, topping financial ruin, flying, sickness, and even death, a recent survey reports. A case of Stage Fear at its strongest. Some surveys have even reported that as many as 90 percents of the people today suffer from stage fright. Of course, in most cases, it diminishes as you continue performing in front of the public, and soon you end up owning the stage. However, for people suffering from social anxiety, almost every interaction is a case of stage fright, and these people inevitably end up shying away from these interactions.
In many cases, stage fright occurs long in advance of the performance itself, revealing itself through symptoms such as quickened heartbeat, dry mouth, and dizziness. It passes once the performance or situation begins, at least in most cases. If you aren’t used to performing in front of an audience, and it is your first time, stage fear is almost inevitable. However, it is never permanent. Unless you suffer from chronic stage fear, in which case almost every social encounter is tedious and a challenge to get through.
Many famous people have had stage fear in their lives. People as well-known and as famous as Maya Angelou, Amanda Seyfried, Adele, Lorde, and many more have suffered from Stage Fear in their lives. They persevered and soon came to own their fear and began dominating the stage. It is essential to become the master of your mind in order to deal with such problems.
In addition to the commonly noted symptoms of stage fear, you may also suffer from shaking uncontrollably, blushing, trembling, nausea, and light headedness. This occurs because the body activates its sympathetic nervous system in response to the fear.
How to overcome this fear?
There are many ways to successfully combat stage fear. It is said that an effective way to combat your fears is to face them head on, to be continuously exposed to them so that you get used to them and eventually overcome them. This is a practice which even some psychologists practice. Most of the time, the problem is in your mind. You suffer from stage fear because you feel that you won’t be good enough, that your performance won’t be accepted and meet the standards of the crowd, and such negative thoughts build in your mind, eventually leading to greater tension and nervousness.
To battle this, you must first learn to accept yourself for who you are. Realize what your flaws are, and accept them as a part of yourself. Do not put yourself to meet impossible standards, which more often than not, are completely illusory and only exist within the trappings of your mind.
Meditation and natural remedies help in such situations. If the problem is too great, you can always consult your physician and ask for appropriate treatment to get over your fear. If you are willing to face your fears and emerge successful, it becomes possible to unshackle yourself from the crippling chain that the fear has put around you. It will make you become more comfortable in your own skin, and soon, the stage won’t seem like a problem, but an opportunity to express yourself and ride an emotional high in front of the audience, be it a huge setting, or just a single person like at a job interview.
These are a few ways to battle the fear of public speaking:
- Shift the focus away from the fear, don’t let it seize you. Instead, concentrate on enjoying the moment and stop worrying about the reaction that you will get.
- Do not worry about what will go on. Negativity does not breed success. Focus on what will go right. Calm yourself, you can do it.
- Be confident, do not let thoughts of self-doubt and failure hamper you. Reassure yourself by being confident in your own abilities.
- Do not bother being perfect. No one is. Everyone makes mistakes, what matters is how you do despite those mistakes. Sometimes, a smart and witty reaction to a failed joke can be even better than the original for a comedian while speaking in front of an audience. Keep your wits about you.
- Be ready when you have to perform. Prepare your material in advance so that you will be well versed with it.
- Practice a clean and healthy lifestyle so that you can be calm and relaxed instead of hyper and anxious.
- Keep a strong and vibrant posture. Do not cower, instead, accept everything and use it for your benefit. Often, your reaction to your failures leaves a stronger impression on the person in front of you than anything else.
Above everything else, remember that you are human, and you can make mistakes. Accept them and move on, do not let it hinder you. Success lies beyond failures.
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