Monday, October 12, 2009
Getting to the Root Cause of Stagefright
Lisa Braithwaite, speech coach and author of the Speak Schmeak public speaking blog commented on my last post and referenced a terrific letter to the editor, which she posted in her blog back in 2007:
The letter, written by Ed Barks, discussed some potential pitfalls of the speaking advice offered in the Post's article about the Stagefright Survival School. Ed offered this alternative:
Those who hope to overcome their fears must attack them at the root. The cause may be stage fright. Or it may be something altogether different, such as shyness, insecurity, uncertainty about one's topic, fear of being judged, lack of passion or another cause.
In other words, having a speaker hold on to a microphone, prescribing beta-blockers, etc treats the symptoms of stagefright - but not the cause. By just treating the symptoms, speakers may learn how to cope with stagefright, but they will never overcome it.
For many people, stagefright is a learned response that comes from a traumatic performance experience in childhood. (e.g. piano recital, school play, class presentation...) Every time the person is asked to speak, he returns to the childhood trauma.
At Green Room Speakers, clients learn how to overcome stagefright first by identifying the root causes. Then we help clients break the pattern of negative association, by helping them connect speaking in public with past experiences of strength, calm, and presence.
From the Green Room: Have Stagefright? Don't fear. You can do more than just learn to cope with it. By getting the root of the anxiety, you can learn to overcome - and actually begin to enjoy speaking in public.