Which to you fear more: public speaking or death?
I’ve never seen the survey, but the story goes, more Americans are afraid of public speaking than they are of death. It goes by many different names--public speaking anxiety, stage fright, the jitters, performance anxiety, the yips. No matter what you call it, and no matter who you are be it CEO, athlete, or actor, it’s an unsettling feeling.
As a voiceover artist and opera singer, I’ve had years of experience staring the proverbial tiger in the eye. Sometimes I’ve “fought my fear and won” (as one book called it), other times I’ve seen fear stop me from trying, sabotage my performance, or just zap all my enjoyment from the experience.
There have been thousands of books written on the topic of performance anxiety, and believe me, I’ve read a lot of them. I'd say that for the most part, the topic, “How to overcome your fear of putting yourself out there,” boils down to learning to have compassion for yourself while you’re having an uncomfortable bodily experience.
I could have listed 50 things, but here are 4 ideas to start with. See if they resonate with you and feel free to leave a comment or question below.
Fear of performing is not something you overcome or outgrow, it’s something you befriend. As long as you are doing new things that challenge you and push you to the edge of your comfort zone, you’re going to deal with fear. With more attentiveness to your body and mind, symptoms like clammy hands and a thumping heart can be seen as your body telling you it’s at attention because it knows this thing you’re doing matters a lot, not that it wants you to run out of the room screaming. Take a moment or two to gather your focus and attend to your body and mind before that important presentation or performance. I hope you notice some compassion for yourself that maybe wasn't there the last time you played at the fringes of your comfort zone.