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5 Ways To Overcome Stage Fright

5 Ways To Overcome Stage Fright

Any artist or performer can feel those butterflies in their stomachs and those very familiar goose bumps. Performance anxiety, feeling of speechlessness, more commonly referred to as stage fright, is very common to many people. Stage fright doesn’t exactly need to involve a stage. Any event which will give you the attention of a group of people, can lead to a fear of public speaking. And needless to say, this phobia can be corrected with some efforts. It is very important to deal with this ghost of public speaking which is residing deep within you. Do not ever try to avoid situations where you are required to go on stage or else it’s going to aggravate your fear even more. Just face it. So, here are 5 ways to overcome stage fright.

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    1. Relax your mind and body.

    Eat your favorite food, stretch a few muscles, take deep breaths, listen to your favorite songs, talk to your best friend or even try winking at random people. In short, do anything which will entertain you and take your mind off the unnecessary anxiety. See, the point to remember is that being a little anxious is all right, even good. But try keeping this below a threshold.

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      2. Practice, Practice and Practice.

      Practice in front of your family, friends, in front of a mirror and even in empty auditoriums, so that you get used to the idea of performing in front of of your audience. Practice till you almost memorize it. This will give you confidence and also give you scope to find out and correct the flaws in your own performance. If it’s a speech, presentation or debate, just understand the concept you are going to explain thoroughly(so that you are able to answer any questions from the audience), or if it’s a play or drama, get into the character (so that you forget your own fears and worries).

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        3. Connect to your audience.

        Don’t be scared and tell people that you are worried and have an absolute fear of stage. This will do nothing but lower your self-confidence. Instead, start focusing on the needs and expectations of your audience. You will be motivated when you realize that you will actually be able to reach out to your audience. You will feel like burning or disappearing from the stage if you start thinking that you being there makes no difference whatsoever. So, focus your attention on the people who are going to listen to you.

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          4. Accept your fears.

          Do not try to suppress the feeling that you are worried about going on stage. Just accept it, deal with it, hold your head high, do not fiddle with microphone or your notes and cool down. Be confident that it’s only for a few minutes and then you are going to give the performance of your life time. Give it your best shot. Visualize your triumphant outcome. Nothing can go wrong. Even if it does, just smile and move on.

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            5. Lead a healthy lifestyle.

            Eat fruits everyday and exercise properly. Try participating in group discussions. Talk to people at work and gym instead of creating a shell around you. Do yoga and meditation regularly. Go out with friends on trips. Start a hobby. Doing all these will improve your self-esteem and hopefully, you will never get a stage fright. If possible, avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar totally. They will simply make you more nervous.

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              Featured photo credit: Will Marlow via flickr.com

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              Last Updated on January 15, 2021

              7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

              7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

              The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

              Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

              Posture

              First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

              • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
              • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
              • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
              • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

              All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

              Facial Expressions

              Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

              • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
              • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
              • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

              If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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              1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

              A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

              The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

              This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

              2. Relax Your Face

              New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

              The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

              To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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              3. Improve Your Eye Contact

              Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

              The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

              To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

              3. Smile More

              There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

              Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

              4. Hand Gestures

              Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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              It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

              5. Enhance Your Handshake

              In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

              “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

              It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

              6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

              As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

              Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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              Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

              Final Takeaways

              Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

              If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

              More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

              Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

              Reference

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