First a mention for the night I am starting at the Latest Music Bar in Kemp Town, Brighton. Called Speaky Spokey, it is a fab night of spoken word performers, short film, and live music. The first one will be on Thurs, 28 April 2011 at 8pm, 5/4 squid on the door, and then monthly and I will keep this site posted.

Anyhoo…talking to some of the potential performers for future events the problem of nerves came up a few times. There are a remarkable number of people who experience this reaction to performing, not just writers, who don’t get called on to stand up in front of people so often, but amongst those for whom delivering a confident presentation of what they do is part and parcel of their profession.

I have seen lots of clients with performance anxiety/stage fright, from a nurse who needed to make training presentations to a group of students, to opera singers in the cast at Glyndebourne. There are, luckily, lots of ways to decrease nerves and increase confidence, where to begin is really a question of what is it like for you? How would you know when it was better? Each person is different and each case is best looked at individually.

There are a few tips which can be applied to all though.

Try staying in peripheral vision whilst in front of your audience. ¬†When we allow our gaze to soften, and you can easily practise this by guiding your attention to what you can see all around the edges of your vision field whilst keeping your head still, we are then giving our brain the signal that ‘all is well’, so we can remain calm.

What we tend to do when feeling panicked, is to focus narrowly on the potential source of danger, which gives our brain the signal that we are in danger, thus increasing the release of adrenalin etc. which exacerbates the ‘nervous’ feeling. Of course a small, manageable amount of adrenalin is a blessing, keeping us at peak performance, sometimes we just need to recognise the ‘rush’ as a good thing.