Nearly everyone has experienced performance anxiety when speaking to a large group. Even professional musicians and actors can suffer from the fear of failure before a crowd.
Medicines can offer relief, but anti-anxiety drugs come with side effects that many people would rather avoid.
For instance, the beta blocker Inderal will relieve some of the physical symptoms of performance anxiety, such as heart palpitations, but it can cause nausea and dizziness.
New research suggests that instead of medicating, converting stage fright into feelings of excitement offers relief without side effects.
Harvard investigators found that when volunteers perceived their anxiety symptoms as indications of excitement, their performance as public speakers or singers improved.
When singing performers interpreted their pounding hearts and rapid breathing as enthusiasm, they were 30 percent more accurate; public speakers improved their performances by 20 percent.
So the next time you’re speaking before a large group and your thoughts start racing, don’t focus on calming down.
Instead concentrate on the positive — how excited you are and how much your audience will enjoy your performance.
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