Copyright 2006 Randy Lubow
I hear performers say to me,” I really struggle getting myself up and performing these days because my stage fright has gotten so bad.”
Then I hear business people say to me,”I have to give a speech to our company employees and I have been dreading it all week because I really suffer with fear of public speaking.”
But, then I hear others such as salespeople, lawyers or other professionals tell me how bad their performance anxiety is and how debilitating it has gotten.” Others tell me they have a real phobia about speaking up in front of other people.
They all call it something different and yet when they sit down and begin to talk with me, they describe physical and emotional feelings that are all similar.
They all described the experience as “overwhelming, devastating, crippling, terrifying, or tormenting.” They all talked of their physical symptoms of nausea and heaving, blushing, perspiring, pounding in their ears, difficulty in breathing or in focusing, feeling dizzy or faint, inability to speak, shaking hands or the fear that they would die. They all experience these overwhelming feelings when they must self-express in front of others.
Many of them even experience these feelings just anticipating having to get up in front of others. So, what is it? Actually, they are all suffering from what is called “performance anxiety” and yes today there are very effective fast change techniques to eliminate it in a very short period of time without having to resort to self-medicating or prescription drugs.
For this article, I decided to go through the dictionary and look up a few of the terms above, like fear, phobia, anxiety and performance. Take a look at what I found.
FEAR…a reason for dread or apprehension from real or imagined circumstances. PHOBIA…a persistent abnormal and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous or harmful. PERFORMANCE….something performed, an accomplishment, the act of performing a work or role before others. ANXIETY…a state of apprehension, uncertainty and fear resulting from fantasized threatening events or situations often impairing physical and psychological functioning. Do any of these definitions sound familar to you?
Good news! You can get control of performance anxiety. Here are two techniques that I often incorporate into my work with performance anxiety suffers that are very effective and will offer your some immediate relief.
1.) This technique is called future shaping. Close your eyes and remember a time when you felt the most intense stage fright experience ever. See it, feel it, or imagine it in your mind. Next, imagine yourself feeling the way you WANT to feel in that situation. Imagine your’re replacing the old feeling with the new feeling. Rehearse this exercise often, get your imagination into it and see the changes you expect and you’ll begin to notice a big difference the next time you get up in front of others.
2.) Here is a strategy that uses a little hypnosis and NLP. When you begin to feel stage fright coming on, take a couple of minutes and close your eyes. Breath deeply and slowly two or three or more times. Calm yourself down. The moment you feel calm, snap your fingers. Tell yourself that if you should feel stage fright coming on again, you will simply release it by snapping your fingers and then snap your fingers. Every time you do this you will be reinforcing a positive outcome and re-programing your subconscious mind.
Today, with the fast change techniques that are available, there is no reason to continue to suffer with stage fright, fear of public speaking or performance anxiety.
Anyone, regardless of their profession, who can communicate to others in a compelling and confident way are seen as leaders and along with that recognition, business, professional and personal situations most often tend to dramatically improve.