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Stage Fright

Maddie G., Contributer

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Do you ever panic when you think about talking in front of a large group of people? Well, you are not the only one. Many people experience “mild performance anxiety,” whether it is giving a speech in front of the school or presenting a topic in front of your class. It takes confidence and courage to deliver a presentation, but good public speaking is a life skill that can set you up for success in both your academic and professional career.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, stage fright is defined as “nervousness felt at appearing before an audience.” Being the center of attention can be nerve-racking and stressful.  When speaking in front of a large group, your body reacts as if you were in danger. This is known as the “fight or flight” response. Some stage fright symptoms include:

  • Rapid pulse and shallow breathing
  • Cold and sweaty hands
  • Trembling knees, hands, and voice
  • Dry throat and mouth
  • Vision changes
  • Uneasy feeling in the stomach

The best way to overcome stage fright is to understand why you have so much anxiety in the first place. Learning to accept who you are begins this reconstruction process. There are also some tips when preparing to speak in front of an audience.  The first thing to remember is to have a positive mindset. Think about the things that can go right, rather than wrong. Visualize your success. Stand tall and believe in yourself. Secondly, get exercise, eat well, and limit caffeine and sugar intake before the “big day.” Practice ways to calm and relax your mind. This includes taking deep breaths and focusing on certain relaxation techniques. Lastly, eliminate any thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence.

Preparation is also the key to any successful presentation.  This requires practice and knowing the materials inside and out. Read your presentation aloud several times in front of a mirror to hear your delivery. This way, you will be more confident when speaking in front of a group. Also, make sure to connect with the audience by smiling and greeting them. Think of them as friends rather than enemies, and find a way to engage with them on a personal level. Finally, focus on your posture and make sure you are in a self-assuring position. A self-assured position is means to have your shoulders back and your chin up. Psychologically, when positioning your shoulders back, it is believed to make for better breathing, so position is critical to boost confidence.

Overall, though stage fight is a common fear that is faced by both teenagers and adults, there are many ways to rid yourself of it. Hopefully, and after preparing and following some of the tips listed above, your fear of standing in front of an audience will, at least, be minimized, or completely go away.

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