How to Get Over Stage Fright

Posted on July 12, 2014

Photo: flickr

What if you suddenly became intensely afraid of some integral part of your own career? In a recent interview with Fresh Air about her new film Obvious Child, Jenny Slate talked about her sudden-onset stage fright, a potentially career-killing phobia for a stand-up comic and actress. She says her fear, which took hold after she accidentally swore on Saturday Night Live and was subsequently dismissed from the show, lasted two long years.

Slate finally got over her fear (and saved her career) via hypnotism, something she tried because she loves things that “seem magical.” If you’re dealing with your own fear of public speaking and are skeptical of hypnotism, two recent studies have some alternative fixes for handling stage fright.

Instead of telling yourself to calm down, tell yourself to get pumped. Research by Allison Wood Brooks of Harvard Business School suggests that changing the way you talk to yourself before you're in the spotlight can make all the difference. In a series of studies, Brooks and colleagues assigned people some potentially scary tasks, including solving some math problems and singing karaoke using one of those games that scores you on how well your voice matches the correct pitch. Before each task, some of the people were told to try to calm down; the others were told to get excited. The people who were told to get psyched performed better in both scenarios than the people who were told to calm down.

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Category(s):Phobias, Social Anxiety / Phobia

Source material from New York Magazine