Types Of Stage Fright and How To Overcome

Musicians on a stage performing -Types Of Stage Fright and How To Overcome
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There’s a famous joke that some people would rather be in a coffin than give a eulogy at a funeral. It may seem like an exaggeration, but most people would agree with the joke. In this world, we have two kinds of people. Some feel comfortable and love speaking in public. However, other people are scared about speaking in public and would avoid it at all costs. Stage fright is entirely normal and occurs in many people. However, many people don’t understand it. Understanding stage fright and the different types of stage fright is key to overcoming it. That’s why we will review the concept of stage fright in detail in this article; let’s begin. 

What is Stage Fright?

Do you feel a certain level of apprehension when you know you’re about to speak up or perform in a group? Does a feeling of dread and panic overcome you when you’re about to be the center of attention? If you can relate to any or a couple of these, then chances are you’re suffering from stage fright. Stage fright is a form of anxiety that connotes a feeling of anxiousness when performing or speaking in front of people or a group. Stage fright isn’t just limited to stages in the literal sense. It generally refers to a fear of performance or public speaking. Research by the National Institute of Mental Health reveals that 73% of the population suffers from this fear. 

Stage fright can affect anybody, and it usually takes a toll on self-confidence and self-esteem. Many people have passed up a promotion, job or missed other opportunities due to these. Many people speak regularly and perform before crowds but have stage fright. There are many professional performers today that suffer from this fear in secret. Many athletes, musicians, actors, and others have shared instances where they felt an overwhelming anxiousness. While some people avoid any public performance or speaking, others face it daily. Most people feel embarrassed by stage fright and keep it away from people close to them. 

Where Does Stage Fright Occur?

The thing about stage fright is that it could happen anywhere; there’s no place alien to stage fright. Even people with a gift of public speaking suffer from stage fright. However, stage fright mainly occurs in front of a large audience. There are, however, times when it happens in front of small groups or one-on-one settings. A person who could experience stage fright during a job interview, speeches or toast, exercise classes, work meetings. It could also pop up when you’re speaking with customer care reps or when conversing with strangers.

What are the Symptoms of Stage Fright

Stage fright could begin long before you even go for your presentation or start a performance. Most people start to feel a certain level of nervousness days or hours before the actual event. However, when the time begins to draw close, the symptoms become even more noticeable. There are unique ways you could experience stage fright; the experience is always unique to the person. However, some of the typical stage fright symptoms include the following.

  • Feeling extreme worry over the event.
  • A racing heartbeat before and during the event
  • Having a feeling of withdrawal from others.
  • Feeling numb before the event.
  • Having dry mouth
  • Feeling a tightness in your throat that makes talking painful.
  • A high level of sweat and nausea
  • Feeling stomach pains
  • Having a desire to run away or leave the scene.
  • Extreme paranoia about judgment

Other Words We Know Stage Fright By

In the English language, there are usually different ways to describe a single thing. Stage fright is no different. The meaning is the same, but people know it by the different words and sometimes mistake it for another condition. Before diving into the types of stage fright, below are some of the other words people use to describe stage fright.

Glossophobia

This term is from two Greek words, ‘glosso’ and ‘phobus’ Glosso means tongue while phobus means fear. It is a medical term used to describe stage fright. If you have a doctor or your therapist diagnose you with glossophobia, it simply means you have stage fright. 

Public Speaking Fear

We also use this phrase to describe stage fright. It is quite an accurate description of the term because it encompasses its meaning.

Performance Jitters

Most musicians use this phrase to describe stage fright. Speech jitters also exist for public speakers. However, both terms mean the same time and connote a feeling of stage fright.

Stage fear

This term is quite popular today. You’re sure to hear it a couple of times when people want to describe your nervous condition. However, it is just a synonym to stage fright.

Aphonia

People use this term in describing the inability to produce voiced sounds. However, most people use this term to express their feeling of stage fright.

Agoraphobia

Another common synonym for stage fright is agoraphobia. It is a fear of crowded places or places you cannot escape from. It is a familiar feeling for people with stage fright, and so it is commonly used to describe the feeling.

There are varying words you can use to explain when you have a feeling of stage fright. However, no matter the name you choose to refer to it, stage fright remains the same. It is an uncomfortable and debilitating problem; let’s check out the types of stage fright below.

Types of Stage Fright

Most people think there’s only one type of stage fright. However, there are several types. The kind of stage fright you suffer from usually depends on the presentation you have to undergo. Musicians generally suffer a different kind of stage fright from public speakers. Below are the types of stage fright; let’s take a look. 

Anticipation

It is the first amongst the types of stage fright, and many people suffer from this. It is the expectation of negative and unrealistic images of the performance. When you expect things to go wrong with your performance, job interview, exam, or any interaction, you will initially experience the symptoms of stage fright when it draws close. Anticipation is a common type of stage fright amongst the other types of stage fright. However, there are many ways you can deal with it by quelling the thought whenever it pops up. You can also learn to speak positively whenever it comes up to banish the feeling of anticipation. 

Avoidance

A top option amongst the types of stage fright is avoidance. Although avoidance gives many people immediate relief, it only reinforces the fear in the long run. Avoidance is a type of stage fright where you continually run away or escape whenever you have to perform or speak in public. Many people who have the avoidance type of stage fright will rather miss out on a job, scholarship, exam, or a good friendship than face the public. Some people who have this runs away a few hours, minutes, or days to their performance. 

You can improve upon avoidance, but it doesn’t necessarily reduce your fear. Most of the time, avoidance comes from a feeling of judgment or rejection. Such people have a fear of vulnerability or being considered imperfect. The best way to get over avoidance as a type of stage fright is first accepting yourself as you are. You also have to reject the feeling of thinking you have to prove yourself to others. Doing this is the foundation of your healing from avoidance and can help you beat your stage fright. 

Anxiety

It is common among the types of stage fright. Also it is a high level of anxiousness you experience before a presentation. It usually arrives when there’s a tendency of you speaking in front of an audience. Anxiety is fear or apprehension about what’s to come. It could be a job interview, your first day in school, or simply a need for you to give a speech or perform. It is known as speech anxiety and connotes a feeling of nervousness. Some symptoms of this type of stage fright are a shaky voice, breathing difficulty, sweaty palms, dry throat, and sometimes, memory loss. Sometimes the symptoms are unique to each person and therefore hard to predict. 

One thing you should note is that majority of professional speakers today experienced speech anxiety at some time. The level of anxiety usually varies. While the thought of speaking petrifies some people, others feel just a little anxiousness.

Panic

Panic is a deep feeling of fear, and it prevents all rational thoughts and actions. It is usually associated with a panic attack, which is an intense wave of fear. One characteristic of this type of stage fright is a debilitating and immobilizing intensity. When you have a panic attack, your heart is pounding, you feel like you can’t breathe, and there’s a feat that you’re dying. Most times, panic attacks come out of the blue without any warning. However, sometimes the trigger is a rising feeling of panic. When you have this type of stage fright, the symptoms worsen as the event draws near until it triggers a panic attack.

Panic can begin weeks before the performance. You can also trigger panic by things you come across when giving your presentation. You must work on your fear before you reach panic. Once it gets to the panicking stage, it can be difficult to calm yourself down.

Tips to Reduce Stage Fright

The initial step to overcoming stage fright is acknowledging it and the type you have. To successfully overcome stage fright, you have to put in the effort and continuously practice. Understand that relief doesn’t come overnight, and you may not like speaking in public. However, you can learn to become more confident and comfortable when performing or speaking. The tips below will help you tackle your stage fright; let’s dive in.

See a therapist

One of the easiest ways to overcome the different types of stage fright is by seeing a therapist. A therapist will help you reach the root of your stage fright and address all the concerns you might have. Stage fright often emerges due to a traumatic experience, and seeing a therapist helps you handle that.

Practice Regularly

Although stage fright could still be overwhelming, you should practice your material. The more you rehearse, the more things start to feel natural. You can perform in front of loved ones and ask for feedback to help you improve.

Practice Positive Mantra

 This tip works best with anticipation and avoidance. When you begin to feel an overwhelming anxiousness, give yourself a pep talk. You can research or develop mantras that help ground you when you’re feeling anxiety or panic.

Positively Visualize the Event

When you positively visualize things, it can help you feel more confident when speaking or performing. Visualizing yourself succeeding or performing your very best will help you be at ease with yourself. You can focus on that picture you create when you face the event.

Take Deep Breaths

When you begin to feel anxious, you should practice taking deep breaths. Doing this will send a signal to your body to relax and also calm down. It will help you counter the adrenaline sent to your brain when you panic. It can also help to slow down your heart rate, which increases with stage fright. 

Final Thoughts

Stage fright is a common fear amongst 70% of the population today. However, not many people understand the concept and how to tackle it. To help you along, we have reviewed the idea of stage fright, where it occurs, its synonyms, and the different types of stage fright. We also understand the importance of tackling your fears and improving your speaking and performance skills. That’s why we also include vital tips to help you overcome your stage fright. No matter which of the different types of stage fright we suffer from, practicing these tips goes a long way in overcoming your fear.

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Thomas Brownlees

Thomas Brownlees

Ever since I can remember, music has always been my passion.

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