Part 1:  What is Stage Fear?

stage fright Panic attack cartoonStage fear can also be called stage fright, performance anxiety of public speaking. They are all types of social phobia. I’m going to refer only to stage fright and explain more about what it is. It is an intense fear that when you’re speaking to people you are being judged, you fear you’ll make mistakes, get it wrong and make a fool of yourself. Then you feel embarrassed or even humiliated by the situation – this causes you anxiety, dread and avoidance, it can even lead to a full blown panic attack.

If you suffer from stage fright then you may recognise that the fear is excessive and unreasonable but at the same time you feel powerless to do anything to change your response. The situations that cause the strongest stage fear, things like presentations, wedding speeches, meetings, interviews or even one-to-ones – will be avoided at all cost and when they can’t be avoided then they’ll be endured with intense anxiety or distress.

If you’re expected to attend formal meetings in work or worse still do a formal presentation, these are the most common situations that trigger stage fright. Often if you start fearing these situations the stage fright can begin to spread to even smaller groups, to conference calls, to informal situations like dining out or even one-on-one conversations (especially if they are more senior than you), it can also spread to things like introducing yourself on a course or in a group. It can even end up spilling into social situations with friends and family.

What happens during stage fright?

When you feel that all eyes are on you, this is called the “Spotlight Effect” . What is stage fright the spotlight effectWhen you are under this effect, your acute self-awareness makes it very difficult to focus on what is really going on around you, so remembering your lines or your speech, even reading from your notes or follow a meeting becomes almost impossible. Your mind goes foggy or blank and your distress is further fueled by all the efforts to hide or mask your discomfort. And when this strikes it can trigger blushing, facial immobility, sweating, shaking, twitching, or an inability to speak normally or coherently. Now that’s a lot to hide!

You may even have some of these feelings for some time before the event – weeks or even months beforehand! This is often accompanied by sleeping problems and loss of appetite. Life becomes a nightmare from the moment you know you have to speak. It can feel like a death sentence!

And it doesn’t end there. Even after the event these feelings may linger, as you analyse and ruminate on how you did, going over and over it in your mind, wondering how other people may have judged you.Fear of public speaking really is not the same as shyness, it goes way beyond butterflies, it is a much more intense and debilitating fear. At its worst it will end in a full blown panic attack.

Stage Fear – “You have GREATNESS in you!”

“You have found yourself in a situation that you never expected you would be in and you are stressed out of your mind. You may feel your whole world is crashing in on you and that you have lost everything.stage fright stage fear
You are just plain tired. stage fear
Do not panic and do not quit! stage fear
You are still here in your right mind.
Everything else is a bonus!  You may have been in this place before where you have wondered- ‘how can I get through this?’. You could not see it, but somehow you have made it, and you will again.
Stop ~ take a deep breath!  stage fear
Calm yourself, encourage yourself. 
Keep in mind who you had to be, and what you had to do in the past to overcome what appeared to be insurmountable odds.
You still have that power, that makes you a winner. 
Keep your head up. stage fear
Come out swinging. stage fear
Know in your heart of hearts…You have GREATNESS within you!” Les Brown 

To continue reading about who suffers from stage fear – you’ll won’t believe who some of the sufferer are… goto part 2.

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