Can we suddenly feel stage fright?

Pastora Soler, Joaquín Sabina…

Pastora Soler, Spanish representative at the Eurovision Song Contest in the 2012 edition, has left the stage after 20 years. Pastora has communicated via Facebook that she has stage fright.

Joaquín Sabina apologized yesterday, Saturday, December 13, at the Palacio de Deportes in Madrid, in front of more than 10,000 people, after commenting that he could not continue with his performance. He felt nervous, unwell and sad.

What is stage fright?

stage fright

Stage fright is a lack of self-confidence, a fear of not meeting the expectations of our audience. On one side are the more than 20 years of experience of an artist -Pastora Soler or Joaquín Sabina- and the hundreds/thousands of concerts and public appearances... At that moment, when stage fright invades you, you only feel that you are not trained for your main function, in this case, singing! The world transforms before you and who until now was your friend, the public, is now “your enemy.” You feel terrified of making a mistake, of not being up to the task, of disappointing your fans... and that internal dialogue ends up overcoming you.

Yes, stage fright is an internal dialogue. Your “other self” is telling you that you are not prepared, that you are not going to pass the test, that you should not be there, that no, that no... and that mental dialogue ends up having physical manifestations that transform anxiety into coma symptoms. increased heart rate, excessive sweating, and feeling unwell. And all of this can lead to stuttering, trembling of hands and legs, forgetting the message, dizziness and even fainting, as happened to the singer Pastor Soler in her performance in Seville on March 8 of this year.

Is it possible for stage fright to appear suddenly?

We have all felt at some point in our lives that we lose our self-confidence. Along with the aforementioned internal dialogue, on some occasions there may be some external comment that affects us and blocks us emotionally. People who, without any desire to hurt us, make a negative comment about us, tell us with maximum sincerity that they did not like our conference, our class or our clothing at a public event... that we have not met their expectations. Logically, we feel a “tap” inside us caused by our emotional dependence on others.

Yes, Emotional Dependency means that we want those around us to like us, that the opinions of others matter to us. Of course, we live in society and it is important to be in harmony with the people with whom we share our lives. However, our self-esteem cannot fluctuate based on an external comment or an external reaction or, even worse, based on anticipating negative events that are probably not going to happen. Yes, many times, our stage fright is unfounded. We ourselves are the origin, as we have commented.

Stage fright can appear at any time if we are experiencing a difficult emotional stage. If we are incapable of managing stress and seeing things objectively. If we allow ourselves to be “carried away” by the day to day, without stopping to reflect, to evaluate what we are achieving. If impatience invades us, if our ambition is excessive...

What to do to combat stage fright?

We would all love to have a secret formula to apply in moments of stage fright.

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Of course Preparation is very important. Stage fright increases in inverse proportion to preparation. If we have prepared the talk, the conference, the speech, the song... we feel internally entitled to succeed.

Otherwise, doubt and insecurity accompany us. Because improvising is much more difficult. In the case of artists like Pastora Soler or Joaquín Sabina, of course they know the lyrics of their songs perfectly, they have a positive predisposition towards their audience, they want to please them, they want to meet their expectations...

When we refer to stage fright we are talking about paralysis, blockage. Feeling nervous, “butterflies” in your stomach, an injection of adrenaline throughout your body is positive because it helps you give your best. Feeling stage fright is not positive because it paralyzes you and prevents you from performing your role.

When we talk about PREPARATION, we are not referring to a much broader concept. When an artist faces a stage it is like when a speaker has to give a conference or when a professional has to lead a meeting. In all three cases: the artist, the speaker or the professional are leaders with respect to a situation and with respect to an audience. And therefore they must prepare how to lead at that moment.

We are going to define 3 Creative Steps to Prepare in situations where we must address an audience:

  1. Positive attitude: When I'm on stage I have to mentally speak positively to myself. Be willing to give my all. Show enthusiasm for sharing my knowledge and my time with my audience. Have a humble attitude and at the same time be sure of my abilities. Generate trust in others. And feel confident in myself. It is a rewarding moment and I must prepare to enjoy it and make my audience enjoy it. And of course, show a smile to the public that shows that it is an important moment for us and that we are having a good time.
  2. Know my audience: Every performance is different because the audience is different. If Pastora Soler performs in Seville, Malaga or Barcelona, she knows that people “feel” her differently and is sure that she knows how to adapt to that different environment. If we give a conference in a company, at a University or at a Congress, our audience will be different and I must know it a priori.
  3. Creativity: essential element to face the moment appropriately and logically. Without stress, without extreme emotional dependence, without fear of change, without losing self-esteem due to possible incidents. Accepting that we can make mistakes and that we can also acknowledge the error publicly.

For example, what can we do if we forget a piece of a song? Among all the readers, we can surely work on multiple possibilities. Here we present an example: Why not tell the audience to help us with the song? Would the public feel happy to be able to participate? Of course! In the professional field, when we lose the thread of our presentation, we turn to our script, we drink water to concentrate again, we take a deep breath or we simply ask for help from the audience, who will be happy to be useful to us...

Another opportunity that the artist has before his audience is to explain an anecdote or story that he has recently experienced in that city. Personal stories captivate the interlocutor because they make us experience a foreign experience in our own brain. In Sabina's case, she was honest with her audience, asked her musicians for help, and made an effort to continue...

Can we do more creative things? As we have said, the artist is a leader when it comes to acting. The public follows him if he acts empathetically. Imagine a singer who invites two people from the audience to come up on stage. It would be a “magical” moment. The artist would be reinforcing the self-esteem of those two people and at the same time reinforcing her own. Both sides are enjoying that moment. An improvised, surprising and creative moment.

At some conference, we have surely been invited to ask the speaker a question. In these cases, the speaker gains credibility. You are providing us with additional value by providing solutions to specific questions that we want to ask you.

Remembering these three Creative Steps will help us face new situations with greater energy. We are sure that Pastora Soler is a great professional and a great person, as reflected in her comments to her fans transmitted via social networks. And we also know that Joaquín Sabina wants to meet his audience again next Tuesday.

The fans have to understand it and transmit their positive energy to them to move forward.

We can all feel emotionally weaker at some point in our lives and lose confidence in ourselves. The most important thing is to keep getting up, keep fighting and transform that moment into an opportunity to continue improving.

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