Stage Fright

    A few years ago I met someone who said he had a fear of public speaking and after a speech class in college he "overcame" it. I asked, "So your fear was totally gone?" "No. That's not really possible. There will always be some fear."  And this is exactly what most people mean when they say they "overcame" their fear of public speaking. They mean that they don't let it stop them or that it's reduced in intensity. But is it really true that like the man above said, "There will always be some fear"? In my experience it's not.

    By Janet Esposito, MSW. It seems like quite a stretch to think that our fear of public speaking and performing can actually be a blessing in our lives. That sounds like a big dose of positive thinking—an attempt to be the eternal optimist trying to find the silver lining in a difficult and often painful experience of personal suffering. I am the last person to deny how challenging and agonizing this fear can be for those who suffer from it, having been there myself and having heard the stories of hundreds of fellow sufferers over the years. At the same time, there is a hidden side to this fear, which you can only discover when you stop running from it and finally face the “monster in the closet.”

    Even if you are an experienced actor or other performer, you may still experience stage fright or insecurity. But there are effective ways to deal with anxiety so you can work with more power and creative satisfaction.

    A brief summary of the program, plus a few testimonials.

    Public speaking for people who suffer from panic attacks or general anxiety often becomes a major source of worry weeks or even months before the speaking event is to occur... So how should a person with an anxiety issue tackle public speaking? Stage one is accepting that all these bizarre and quite frankly unnerving sensations are not going to go away overnight.

    Stage fright doesn't only inhibit performing artists. If you're not a performer, you can substitute the word performance with any creative situation that really scares you, or puts you in a position of feeling like you have to measure up or get out of your comfort zone.

    Stage fright comes in many different forms. For some, it's a nervous energy that disappears as soon as they begin performing, or a familiar sensation that's always under the surface but feels manageable most of the time. For others, it's so debilitating that they can't get through an audition to even be part of a performance.

    By Eleanor Blau -- Picture audience members in their underwear. That's an old trick. Makes them less intimidating. Fall down as you come on stage. That's an odd trick. Not recommended. But it saved the pianist Vladimir Feltsman, when he was a teen-ager back in Moscow. The veteran cellist Mstislav Rostropovich tripped him purposely to cure him of preperformance panic, Feltsman said. "All my fright was gone. You already fell. What else could happen?" Musicians report all manner of strategies against stage fright and its curses.

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