Performance anxiety or what could aswell be called stage fright is not a bad sensation in the first instance; however, it could be regarded as a state of concern when it becomes uncontrollably persistent and could affect one’s cognitive behaviors. In other words, it could make you panic and probably forget what you have to say.
Undergraduates who are set to undertake their final year projects find themselves struggling with public oration even before their lecturers and contemporaries; how bad. Stage fright the only factor answerable to faults of students at the final year projects defense panel has dragged many of undergraduates to the mud; making obvious their inability to perform publicly.
If that is you still struggling with performance anxiety or stage fright, this article is meant to help you overcome stage fright by first making you understand what stage fright actually is, the cause of stage fright, possible symptoms of this sensation and how to deal with it especially as undergraduates.
What is stage fright or performance anxiety
Stage fright is fear or phobia associated with crowd or large audience. This persistent phobia for crowd is usually aroused in an individual when required to perform before a crowd. Stage fright is very common among undergraduates who may be required to defend their final year projects before a project defense panel, a seminar proposal before their contemporaries and lecturers, to present a public debate and simple public exercises like asking and answering questions.
What are the causes of stage fright?
Stage fright or performance anxiety is caused by stress and anxiety but most of the time the sight of crowd or consciousness that one would soon face a crowd causes stage fright. Let’s talk about it.
Preparing late for an events puts the individual through so much psychological stress especially when they are skeptical about meeting up with the issues to discuss. As in the case of undergraduates, getting to an oral examination late, for instance final year project defense, can actually throw students off balance because they might have been put through the stress of running and fear of losing the chance of making an attempt before the defense panel.
Most of the time, the awareness that one is to perform before an audience with higher portfolio raises one’s level of consciousness against making a mess of oneself before the distinguished audience. Panic and fear takes over when not properly handled. Sometimes too, when students haven’t prepared so well or called up for an impromptu speech, nervousness sets in because you barely know how to start or where the next thing you will talk about is going to hail from.
When people perform better in their closet and in the presence of very familiar faces then go out there to fumble before their original audience, we can attribute that to crowd-caused stage fright.
What are the symptoms of stage fright?
Just like the name implies, when one’s breathing pace automatically changes to beat faster than usual because he is called upon to speak before a group of audience. One’s heart could skip a beat during this psychological trauma.
Your throat can become dry and make you have the feeling of drinking water but actually not. You may just realize that you need to clear your throat; all these could just be imaginary and once you let it in, it beclouds your cognitive behavior.
Trembling limbs, lips and voice
Stage fright is also visible when one’s legs and hands begins to shake while trying to read out words from a note or paper before an audience; some people even sweat and grow cold hands and feet automatically on stage. While this scenario sets in, you possibly could find it uneasy reading out words with your normal voice without having it sound shaky like you are going to cry.
Dues to this particular perceived and persistent symptom of stage fright, final year project students are often advised to put on clothes and shoes they are very comfortable with so that they won’t end up falling down while shaking on their heely shoes as could be attributed to the ladies.
Vision changes and headache sets in
Someone narrated of how she almost couldn’t read out the words she wrote herself simply because she wasn’t the original speaker for that event, but because the group’s reputation was at stake, she took the bold step. Unfortunately however, it was almost a disaster because anxiety couldn’t wait to be invited; it rushed in.
Sometimes it happens that you may be seeing double of each word at once, miss the next line or begin to pronounce or call out words wrongly.
How to overcome stage friend or performance anxiety
Focus on friendly faces
There are faces you see in the midst of the crowd and forget the next thing you had in mind; those faces could be so uptight and regardless seaming intimidating. To come out of this public mess, focus on a familiar face and if you can’t find one, then you must find the most friendly face among the audience to focus your attention; it can help you keep the vibe on.
Laugh or smile before you start
This technique works just like magic. When you enter a stage and laugh first or even smile, your audience will do same immediately and then wait for the next reaction that comes from you. Laughing or smiling before you perform on stage helps you relax no matter how short the smile lasts.
See a therapist
Research has shown that some tendencies of anxiety are sometimes caused by biological processes which could be a little challenging to overcome. In that case, we advise you visit a psychotherapist who may recommend a cognitive behavioral therapy for you.
Stage fright or performance anxiety is not witchcraft, neither is it a bad sensation except when the case persists to the point of interrupting your public performance. Fear of failure and anxiety is what makes students read for exams or prepare for their final year projects defense without leaving a stone unturned.
Regardless, when this nervous sensation persists, you are advised to smile or do a soft laugh before you start, focus on a friendly face or see a therapist if symptoms persist.