Stage Fright Speech Manuscript Written for a university speech class Mark: 83% While some of us feel stronger symptoms than others, it still happens to almost all of us. You practiced your speech to yourself without any issue over the past few days and your time comes to finally get up in front of that special group of people. All of a sudden your hands start to sweat and tremble, your throat dries up and your heart begins to feel like it is going to convulse out of your chest. Next thing you know you are stumbling over your own words and your speech is not going nearly as smoothly as it was the night before.
I know what you are thinking; clearly he is talking about glossophobia. I know you are also thinking at least it is better than having porphyrophobia or arachibutyrophobia. For the few of you who are lost, the last two phobias that I had to twist my tongue for are a fear of the colour purple and a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. Glossophobia is a fear of public speaking. I do not mean to say that all of us who have somewhat unrestrainable nerves when doing a speech need to get psychological help because we have a phobia.
The anxiety we feel when we are in front of a group of people is known as stage fright and is really only a mild case or a subset of glossophobia. People with full blown glossophobia, that require psychological help, experience intense anxiety just at the thought of speaking in public. It often interferes with their work and social life and makes the individual unable to perform basic tasks, such as introducing him or herself to new people. Today I would like to inform you about the psychology of stage fright and what is going on biologically in your body when you experience it.
I will also share some tips that I have researched to help control stage fright. Before I give any suggestions on how to control your stage fright, it is important to fully understand what causes it. One of the main things that can produce stage fright is the thought of stage fright itself. The fear or even the expectation that you will show physical signs of anxiety in front of people, such as trembling or sweating, or that you will draw a blank is enough to drive your mind into this state. Other fears that people commonly hink about before public speaking are: the fear of doing something embarrassing, the fear of accidentally repeating yourself or forgetting to say something and the fear of saying something completely off that does not even make sense. Stage fright happens when you focus on yourself and your anxiety, rather than on your presentation or performance. When we become the center of attention the central nervous system is flooded with feelings, sensation and emotional intensity which can feel uncomfortable and overwhelming.
When we begin to focus on these feelings and how they feel uncontrollable, many people’s instincts are to do their best to control them. Most people have a tendency to resist and fight anxiety rather than to accept and work with it. It is often seen as a threat, rather than a challenge. You may get so involved in your internal struggle to stop your feelings that it may seem almost impossible to focus at all on the speech itself. Your body sees this rush of emotions and anxiety as a threatening situation. Its response to this is to quickly release adrenaline and cortisol. That’s right, the two hormones involved in the fight or flight response.
Our body cannot distinguish the difference between perceived threats and real threats. It reacts to speaking in front of a group of people similar to the way it would if you were to come face to face with a lion. A theory by a sociobiologist, Edward O. Wilson, is that historically, being scrutinized and singled out by the group or community would put you in greater danger if you were ever in a situation where you needed help from others. In turn, human ancestors evolved a strong fear response against setting themselves apart from the protection of the group. These hormones not only affect our mind, but our entire body.
According to an article from msn. com the three most common symptoms of stage fright are dry mouth, short term memory loss and sweaty palms. The dry mouth can be attributed to your digestive system shutting down and closing the saliva ducts. The reason your digestive system shuts down is to decrease blood flow to digestive organs and instead use it to increase oxygen input to the muscles. This, however, can also be seen as a good thing as it also reduces the possibility of vomiting while doing your speech. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is the reason for the short term memory loss.
Cortisol increases your mind’s focus on the senses like sights and sounds and reduces the amount of information that reaches your short term memory stores. This may cause you to lose your spot during a speech, but it can also make you more cognitively sharp and quick to respond. Adrenaline increases heart rate, constricts blood vessels and activates the sweat glands. The reason your palms get a little bit extra sweaty is because the hands have more than half a million sweat glands and having sweaty palms increases friction, which can be helpful in real threatening situations.
It is also more noticeable to the speaker that their hands are becoming sweaty because there is some focus directed towards what to do with them and where they are in space. We must remember that there are both positive and negative aspects to these biological and psychological responses. It is almost impossible to totally eliminate these feelings and it is important to welcome these emotions instead of trying to fight them. A little bit of stress and a little bit of anxiety can actually make you a little bit sharper.
The key is to only have a little bit. Too much can impede on your performance. If you can learn to relax your body your mind will fallow. It is important to breath properly to help slow down your heart rate and calm your nerves. You can do this by breathing diaphragmatically. It is helpful to do this before your speech and also sometimes on stage it is okay to take a quick pause to take a deep breath. I read that if having a dry mouth is a big issue for you than drinking a glass of grapefruit juice is a good way to stimulate the salivary glands.
It may be beneficial to tape yourself doing your speech or to read your speech to yourself in front of a mirror. This eliminates the concern of wondering what you look like during your speech and can help you determine when to make appropriate hand gestures. To calm your nerves and relieve trembling hands you can do something to tense your muscles right before coming on stage. You can do a wall push, which is trying to push over a stationary wall, you can do some push ups or you can push your hands together and try to flex all of your muscles.
When you stop pushing, the release of the tension can be quite relaxing. The sudden sense of relaxation of the muscles can be perceived by the mind as a reduction of anxiety. There are tons of different methods out there to help alleviate stage fright. However, knowledge about your own stage fright is the most powerful tool. It does not really matter which techniques you use, as long as you get your mind off of the stage fright itself. It is important to remember that you are not alone and that even the best speakers still experience some stage fright, they just know how to control it better.
Preparation and practice are still more important than any technique. Remember that each speech you do will get a little bit easier. I have always suffered from stage fright and that is most of the reason for why I took this class. I will continue to put myself out there and I hope that this knowledge that I have passed on to you today can help you defeat your own issues with stage fright and maybe give you the confidence to help you get an additional 2 or 3 percent on you final grade. Sources: PeterDesberg,Ph. D. http://www. toddstrong. com/personalthoughts/stage_fright. p Lybi Ma: http://www. psychologytoday. com/articles/200512/fighting-stage-fright Sandra Zimmer: http://www. self-expression. com/speaking-freely/what-happens-in-stage-fright-and-fear-of-pubic-speaking/ David Carbonell: http://www. anxietycoach. com/performanceanxiety. html Michael Martine: http://wekie. wordpress. com/2007/09/12/biology-the-cause-of-stage-fright-experts-shed-light-and-more/ Meagan Jean: http://www. stress-relief-workshop. com/cortisol. html