Stage Fear – Part 2
In Part 1 we looked at what stage fear is… The fear of being judged and making a fool of yourself, that can develop into a full blown panic attack. We also found out what happens during stage fright, the “Spotlight Effect” and the potential difficulty focusing, remembering, reading, blushing, sweating, shaking, twitching, even speaking normally or coherently. Now I’m going to let you know more about…
Who does Stage Fear affect?
Most people with a stage fear are normal, intelligent and usually well-balanced, usually happy… and they usually come across to friends and colleagues as confident even outgoing.
When I began this work I was very surprised at how many people who very successful, having risen through the ranks, to a level in their career where they are more often requested to share their knowledge, their expertise and lead projects, teams and departments. Now to you this might sound great – sound like real success.. but when you suffer with stage fright – this feels like the worst thing that could happen to you.
Stage fear or stage fright is hanging over them, blocking them, frustrating them because a part of them (the rational thinking part) knows that it doesn’t make sense. They know their subject – that’s why they have been asked to talk – and they know the situation is non-threatening. But they still find that when they are asked to talk in front of a group, it triggers stress and fear just floods in.
In my experience it is the more imaginative, creative or artistic people who are prone to developing phobias. This is because phobias have a lot to do with the misuse of the imagination. That’s why I’ve had all kinds of people as clients: from psychiatrists to politicians, from students to city bankers terrified of the spotlight (see the “Spotlight Effect” in Part 1). I have worked with them all and at all extremes: from mild panic to people who have passed out when performing, presenting or speaking in public.
Surprisingly Famous Sufferers of Stage Fright.
Stage Fright is not only for the uninitiated! Even after hundreds of performances and plenty of onstage charisma, famous performers are not exempt from their own breed of stage fright. Those who have shared their experiences will show you just how common this problem is:
In 2013, New Kids on the Block singer Jonathan Knight walked offstage right in the middle of a concert. And the immediately after the show he went on to tweet apologies about his anxiety.
But Jonathan is hardly the first performer to share his experience about the severity of his stage fright, the list of fellow sufferers is long and illustrious:
On getting stage fright at unexpected moments:
“You can be afflicted at any point. That’s the scary thing. It can be really intense. Your heart’s going 10 to the dozen. It’s a real shocker. It intensifies as you walk towards the stage — and it never actually leaves.”
Quote and picture The Guardian.
“I used to get really badly nervous, but I’ve been through so many things now. There’s no point. I think there comes a point when you’re a performer and you have to get over your stage fright and you really have to enjoy the moment. … Why be nervous?”
“I’m scared of audiences. I get shitty scared. One show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels, I projectile-vomited on someone. I just gotta bear it. But I don’t like touring. I have anxiety attacks a lot.”
[Rolling Stone, 2012]