Own the stage

Shaikha Shuhada Panzeree lists the ways through which performance anxiety can be overcome

performance-anxiety

Your teacher asks you to stand in front of the whole class and talk about your project or give a presentation. So your heart beats faster, you feel the sweaty palms and knots inside your stomach. Even grownups who need to, for career or other purposes, make social contacts and public speeches, face this paralysing feeling inside as the procedure demands us to make ourselves the centre of attention for the audience. For some, this performance anxiety or stage fright, ends in experiencing panic attacks.

It’s wrong to think that only young or common people go through this feeling. Even successful people and celebrities are no different when it comes to freezing with fright. A celebrity like Adele addresses the severity of her performance anxiety, during ‘one show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous that I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels, I projectile vomited on someone.’

There are of course, extroverts who do not feel afraid when it comes to dealing with the audience and opening up. But for introverts, speaking in public turns out to be a complete nightmare. They try their utmost to avoid these situations even if it means costing the career they have always longed for. And worse, there is no medical way to treat this fright.

A slight ray of hope peaks through if we look for it, in dealing with such dead end problem, as this problem can be minimised following a few techniques.

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Breathe!

Every time you feel like the fear is knocking you down, hold yourself and take a pause from what so ever you are doing for a moment. Take deep breaths and try to fill your lungs with as much air as possible, with that inhale some positivity too, and slowly release. It might take some practice to attain the control over your breathing but it works and is possibly one of the most ancient tricks to fight performance anxiety. Why do you think yoga rules the art of breathing? Simple as it is, breathing is meditative.

Stop being the perfectionist!

It is okay to give an average performance. It is totally normal to fumble while you are speaking and you still can continue. One does not need to be perfect every single time. Letting the obsession of doing everything perfectly and putting it all together, to take control, worsens the situation rather than helping when you are in action.

Smile and look!

Smile is a language that everybody understands. A little smile on your lips helps when the audience is concentrating on your words or performance. With that, making eye contacts with the audience strengthens one’s confidence. Think of the audience as your friends instead of strangers. Try to place interactions and also notice their feedbacks.

I am no one!

Time for a little mind game! Before every stage appearance, make your brain believe that the people who are looking at you do not know you in person. They are here for the information or performance you will be sharing with them. All they care about is the depth of the content and how well you can captivate their attention. They have nothing to do with the shirt that you are wearing right now or what you had for breakfast. So relax, and just do what you have got to do.

Have you done your homework?

Practicing and improvising cut down on the anxiety a great deal. If you are prepared for your deliverance on the stage, your self confidence will get its boost naturally. Not to mention, there is always an option for improvisation. If you do not like any part of your performance you can always change it or improvise it while practicing. Be prepared, confidence will follow!

Performance Anxiety is currently UK’s number one mental health issue. People strive to overcome it in their day-to-day life and again many people choose to suffer in silence. The fear can be replaced with confidence if only one wishes to work on themselves. It is not a Herculean task marking your problems and solving them instead of running away.

History says fortune serves the brave, so be one. Letting the fright take over is like hiding from a monster that does not even have a face. Fight for your passion and against impulses! Let your words and art, flow like water.