Archive for September 12, 2007

Biology The Cause Of Stage Fright? Experts Shed Light And More…

September 12, 2007

I read with ardent interest what recently reported about public speaking. The article mentioned about the fear of public speaking and stage fright goes back to biological reasons with ourselves.

Yes, we are talking about the moments of trembling, fast-beating heart pulsations, the increased sweatiness in your palms and the blankness in your mind.

You are standing on the stage raised above, with tens, hundreds or even thousands of eyes scrutinizing you all over. Those images of hungry carnivores seem ready to pounce on you at the mere uttering of your words, if you should mispronounce them or abuse your phrases.

Feels like live meat, isn’t it?

Indeed, we are referring to these and more…

According to the report, the 3 most common symptoms of stage fright include dry mouth, short-term memory loss and sweaty palms.

And biologically speaking, Mary Fensholt, a consultant and author of “The Francis Effect: The Real Reason You Hate Public Speaking and How to Get Over It,” attributes this to “the digestive system temporarily shutting down, the adrenal gland-produced hormone cortisol flooding the body and our primate ancestors’ need for increased traction in the forest canopy.”

To take it further, “even blushing can be understood as a form of arousal to perceived danger; the reaction carries increased oxygen to all parts of the body.”

She tapped on the theories of sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson, and argues that “historically, being intently scrutinized and singled out was a prelude to being eaten by a predator, so human ancestors evolved a strong fear response against setting themselves apart from the protection of the group.”

Neat huh?

Shara Sand, clinical assistant professor of psychology at New York’s Yeshiva University adds that “stage fright represents the fight or flight response.”

“What primitively is going on is that there’s a kind of exposure and vulnerability,” she says. And even though there isn’t any real danger, it can feel like there is.

Well, it may not be such a bad thing

“A little bit of stress, a little bit of anxiety actually makes you a little sharper,” says New York clinical psychologist Lubna Somjee. “It heightens your arousal, it makes you cognitively more quick.”

What then, can we do about minimizing stage fright?

Somjee advises to do breathing exercises, visualization, focusing on relaxing your muscles and drinking a glass of grapefruit juice to stimulate the salivary glands.

And since “if you can relax your body, your mind simply follows.”

One of the key is realizing that your responses are completely normal, Fensholt says.

For even the best speakers and performers do experience stage fright. They just control it better.

Speak well to Excel!