icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Stage Fright

It has long been stated that the greatest fear is of public speaking: having to appear before an audience and "deliver." I can still remember my terror when speaking before a high school school class and likely most have shared this experience.

In later years, when public speaking became important in my career, I learned how to reduce but not eliminate this anxiety--and one would not want to. For the "edge" created by a small amount of anxiety enables a person to think more quickly and to be at their best, though too much anxiety can paralyze the ability to perform.

So I learned that it is important to be prepared, not just enough but much more. Then, if an event like an unexpected question occurs, one can easily "wing it" before returning to the prepared text.

I also found that memorizing a text doesn't work best. One should, instead, have studied extensive notes beforehand, which even includes when a joke will be told. Then the speech will appear extemporaneous. This is what the best speakers, like TV anchors, can do: seem to be speaking spontaneously without preparation.

But with actors the situation is different. Though their lines are memorized and despite extensive preparation, stage fright may still occur yet the reason for this is also different.

In order to act a role one must adopt--temporarily--a different identity. If this is completely different from the actor's, there may be an unconscious resistance to doing so which temporarily paralyzes behavior. This may also occur when the actor must separate from having the director as a critical audience toward the actual audience.

Obviously, stage fright is a complex business.

Copyright (c) 2011, 2015 by Stanley Goldstein. All rights reserved.
Be the first to comment