Everybody suffers from anxiety at some point or another. Anxiety is just a normal part of everyday life. It can actually be a useful emotion in helping us to cope with stressful situations. Other times, anxiety can be out of control and interfere with our ability to function normally in stressful situations even if the stress is just manufactured in our minds.
There will always be reasons to feel anxious. All ages experience anxiety. Children feel it in school before a test; even young babies feel it when separated from their mothers. Adults have plenty of opportunities to feel anxious whether it is from a job, finances, romance, or due to being self-conscious.
Sometimes anxiety comes about because people have to do something they fear doing. One of the most common anxiety-producing experiences is when it comes to public speaking. Many people fear being in front of the public, either as a speaker or just as someone being singled out or noticed in a crowd.
Do you have a fear of speaking in public or performing on a stage? If so, you could be suffering from a type of performance anxiety. Do you have any of the following apply to you? If so, you may have performance anxiety.
- Worry about looking foolish in front of other people and being laughed at?
- Worry that people can see how nervous you are?
- Suffer from stage fright if you have to speak in front of others or perform onstage.
- Experience anxiety in advance of the event simply from anticipating your fears.
- Feel immediate and intense fear upon learning you need to perform in public.
- Attempt to get out of public performances or not show up if you can’t get out of it.
- Missed out on opportunities because of your fear of being in the public spotlight.
Performance anxiety is actually all in the mind of the sufferer. After all, not everyone fears going on stage, there is no danger in doing so. The fear comes from imagined dangers such as feeling like you are not smart enough or good enough to avoid ridicule. So the way to overcome your performance anxiety is to change your way of thinking.
There are four steps involved in overcoming performance anxiety. Let’s take a look at them below.
Step one: Self Assessment
- Get to know yourself, both as a person and as a performer.
- Identify the problem thoughts that are holding you back and creating anxiety.
Step two: Exposure and Preparation
- Find opportunities for limited performance exposure but not to the point your anxiety kicks in.
- Practice your speech or performance. Tape it and watch yourself. Practice until you have it down pat. Always be totally prepared before giving your performance so you feel confident.
- Learn relaxation techniques and practice them right before your performance.
Step three: The Performance
- Visualize the audience as friends and family that wish you well.
- Don’t think of yourself. Think of the audience.
- Stay calm and enjoy yourself.
Step four: After the Performance
- Don’t criticize yourself no matter what happens.
- Congratulate yourself for doing your best.
- Reward yourself for making progress
Train yourself to change your thoughts and instead of worrying about what people will think, just go ahead and imagine they are thinking good things about you. Imagine yourself as self-confident and thoroughly capable of completing the performance. As you change your thinking, you will see your performance anxiety start to slip away.