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Dealing with stage fright or a fear of public speaking

Posted Sep 10 2010 7:26pm

Many actors, musicians and other entertainers report they experience stage fright, but making a speech or public presentation can also produce so much performance anxiety you aren’t able to express your personality and creative ideas as well as you could without the fear, in more control of your emotions.

Or you don’t even attempt something like introducing a speaker at a business event, or auditioning for a community theater role – both of which could not only be downright fun, but enhance your confidence.

Even talented and accomplished performers sometimes feel disrupting or disabling anxiety.

Laurence Olivier – “The man often considered the greatest actor of the 20th century didn’t face the dreaded affliction until late middle age, but then it hit him hard. In one run at London’s National Theatre, Olivier had to have the stage manager push him onstage every night.” [From Even stars get stage fright , Patrick Enright, msnbc.]

Emma Roberts, besides acting, also expresses herself creatively through painting, collage, writing and singing (she released an album in 2005), but a news article reported she’s uncomfortable performing in public.

“And doing a music video is so embarrassing,” Roberts said. “I don’t think I’ll be doing [another] album unless I write it for someone else. I have stage fright. I can’t ever do theater because I would pee my pants,” she says, laughing.

“It’s way too nerve-racking. There’s a comfort in being able to mess up when you’re on a movie set.”

In a 2005 interview, at age 14, she talked about part of what caused her anxiety: “Singing, I’m still getting used to, and it’s kind of embarrassing just because everyone’s watching, either going, I love you or I hate you.”

Another dynamic may be perfectionism

Cherry Jones earned a Tony nomination for her acting in a play, but said she was “nearly paralyzed by a profound case of stage fright” from trying to live up to the “greatest performance” she had ever seen in the role, that of Colleen Dewhurst.

That sort of perfectionism can drive anxiety and insecurity. Trying to be “perfect” can be energizing and inspiring up to a point, but too much concern can lead to a drop in performance.

[From my post Actors and Anxiety – Get Help For Your Stage Fright .]

Managing stage fright or fear of public speaking

Also in that post is a mention of energy psychiatrist Judith Orloff, M.D., who works with many actors and says she sometimes prescribes a beta blocker such as Inderal, a medication to reduce the fight or flight sensations of anxiety such as muscle tension and increased heart rate.

But in her book “Emotional Freedom” she details what she says is a better way than drugs – a three minute mini-meditation that includes learning how to breathe, center and let thoughts flow by.

A program is available from CTRN – a company serving clients “with Public Speaking, Flying and many other fears & phobias” – see the article How to Conquer America’s Greatest Fear: The Fear of Public Speaking .

Morty Lefkoe has developed a method to deal with performance anxiety – see a video with Paul Scheele of Learning Strategies describing how the program helped him on the page: Undo Public Speaking Fear – The Lefkoe Method

- or go directly to the Undo Public Speaking Fear site.

Undo Public Speaking Fear

dealing with stage fright, performance anxiety, help for audition anxiety, relieving fear of public speaking


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