Performance anxiety: How performing arts improved my confidence
Posted: Sep 20 2017
Getting up and speaking or performing in front of a large group of people comes naturally to some, but most of us don’t find it easy at all.
Sweaty palms, shaky voice, scared look, those are all signs that you may have performance anxiety. With a few steps, that anxiety can be lessened, and that will surely boost your confidence. Improving your confidence leads to a better self-image, which is so important in today’s world that bombards us with unattainable perfection. If you feel confident, you start loving yourself more and that can keep away any negative thoughts.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but putting yourself out there will help you learn to deal with performance anxiety. Whether you’re an adult who needs to improve your confidence, maybe for that important work presentation, or you need to help your child overcome their fears, these steps can help you.
You might be thinking ‘I already know that’, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to practice and prepare. People get anxious because they are afraid to make mistakes. The more you practice beforehand, less likely you are to do it wrong, and less anxious you will get. So, practice, practice, practice!
Start in a group and work your way up
Although my first performances were solo, I truly overcame my anxiety when I joined a dancing group. Somehow heading out to the stage in a group removed the spotlight from me, and I never became anxious before performances. I highly recommend you join a group performing activity, like dancing or a play, and work your way up to smaller groups and solo performances and presentations. That important presentation is soon? Maybe you can do it with someone else!
Your presentation starts in 30 minutes, but you’re sweating like crazy, can’t seem to sit still and your mouth is dry? Start with breathing deeply. Try counting, and slowing you breathing as much as you can. For sweaty palms, you can rub your hands over a wall – I learned this trick before my piano performances. Also, a light layer or dry deodorant can help. For body sweat, besides the deodorant, I recommend garment shields. And just bring a glass of water with you, in case you need it.
Ignore the audience at first
This is so hard to achieve, but you need to try and ignore everyone in front of you. The best way to forget there are people watching or listening is to look straight ahead of you, or at your presentation, at first. Once you get the presentation or performance going, you will feel more confident, and that is the best time to try and make eye contact every now and then.
Ignore your mistakes and be ready to improvise
A very important thing I learned is that people mostly don’t notice mistakes if you just get over them quickly. If I missed a note or two while playing the piano, I would just carry on. Went in the wrong direction or forgot which step is next – just don’t stop and improvise. Forgot what to say next in your presentation? Have a joke ready, if that is appropriate. When I completely forgot what one of my slides was representing during my Bachelor thesis presentation, I just skipped it. The committee never noticed. Just get over your mistakes, chances are nobody will know (except you).
What are the things you do to overcome anxiety and improve your confidence?
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