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The Elephant in the Room: 7 Great Tips for Coping With Performance Anxiety

MS. Nida Ghani

2 min read

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Known as ‘stage fright’ in the common tongue, performance anxiety is a condition shared by millions worldwide. In fact, it can strike anyone, anywhere; from seasoned professionals to novice speakers.

If left, unmanaged, however, performance anxiety can greatly impair your self-esteem and self-confidence, and your social life and career, as a result.  So, whether you’re giving a class presentation or a public speech, here are some useful tips by psychologists for coping with performance anxiety:

1-Normalize and De-perfectionize:

Our biggest mistake is stigmatizing performance anxiety as a condition that needs to be ‘fixed’. So, the first step is to accept your anxiety, and everything else it embodies, i.e. your fears and insecurities, as a part of you.

You do not need to be perfect, or prove yourself to others. Things don’t always go as planned, but that doesn’t mean the end; only a slight pause.


You are less likely to freeze (anyone’s worst public nightmare), if you know your material inside-out. Moreover, frequently practicing your content, speech, lyrics, dance routine, etc., help build that much-needed confidence to combat the anxiety when it happens.

Practice in front of your friends and/or family to get constructive feedback, or make an audio or video recording of yourself during solo practice to improve and solidify the routine.

Another helpful tip is familiarizing yourself with the venue. Practice there, if possible, or go early on D-day to increase your exposure and minimize the anxiety.

3-Think Your Worst:

This may seem counterintuitive, but try facing your anxiety head-on, instead of fruitlessly controlling it from the shadows. Visualize going through everything that can go wrong with your performance. Now take each individual event, and imagine the different ways that you can cope with it.

This will help ‘mute’ the fears, while giving you a list of life-saving alternatives should these events actually occur.

4-Feign Excitement:

Trying to calm down only suppresses the anxiety, and with no outlet to filter out, it rebounds even stronger than before. So instead, make yourself believe that your nervousness is actually excitement.

This will trick your brain into perceiving it as a happy event. It will also provide a constructive outlet for the nervousness, especially considering the similar physical responses of anxiety and excitement.

5-Visualize Your Success:

Fast-forward to imagining yourself successfully completing the performance, presentation, or interview, then moving on to things unrelated to the event. This could be something as banal as walking out of the venue and taking the route back home, or a social event independent of the current event’s outcome.

6-Decaf the Caffeine:

Avoid exacerbating your emotions, and refrain from taking anything sugary or caffeinated on the big day. However, going on an empty stomach isn’t the answer either. Instead, eat a small low-fat, complex -carbohydrate meal, such as soup, yogurt, whole-grain pasta, etc.

7-Connect to Your Audience:

Smile, and lightly laugh, as often as you can. Not only will this make you look approachable, but will also help you relax. As you enter the stage, give the crowd a visual sweep to make yourself appear confident, and look for familiar faces, or the ones that appear friendliest, and focus on them during your performance.

Also, be more inclusive while talking; instead of talking ‘at’ the audience, talk ‘to’ them.

Remember that stage fright usually only lasts for the first few minutes, and can be managed easily. However, if your performance anxiety worsens to point where it is affecting your social interactions, then perhaps some medical aid might do you good.

Consult your doctor, or book an appointment with a top psychologist in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your anxious concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

MS. Nida Ghani - Author Ms. Nida Ghani is among the Best Psychologists in Lahore. Ms. Nida Ghani is a Psychologist practicing in Lahore. Over the last 3 years, she has been helping her patients deal with various mental and psychological conditions. You can get an appointment with her through oladoc.
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