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Fear of public speaking? How to become less nervous about performing in front of an audience

Stagefreight

Do you belong to the group of people who start sweating at the mere thought of standing up in front of a PowerPoint presentation at work? Do you start trembling in your voice when you have to speak? You are not alone. Speaking or performing in front of an audience is one of the most common fears among people, which is why the Malmö Academy of Music addresses stage fright in its future “performers” through the course “The Performing Human Being.”

Fransisca Skoogh
The founder of the Performance Centre at the Malmö Academy of Music, Francisca Skoogh

The founder of the Performance Centre at the Malmö Academy of Music, Francisca Skoogh, is not only one of Sweden’s foremost concert pianists but also a licensed psychologist. She has used psychological theory, her clinical experience as a psychologist and her experience as an artist in the course “The Performing Human Being,” which is part of the master’s programme in music. However, the techniques she teaches can benefit anyone suffering from any form of nervousness, fear or sometimes anxiety about standing in front of people and performing.

One must see oneself from a broader perspective

An important part involves not tackling everything alone as an individual, but looking at oneself from a life perspective and sharing experiences with others. But also, the professional culture in which one operates, says Francisca Skoogh. Classical music, of course, has a specific tradition or professional culture in which it operates, just as there likely is within athletics, law enforcement, healthcare, law and so on. One must see oneself within a larger context. She emphasizes the importance of her, as a professional musician with many years of experience, sharing how she herself has been through it. She shares her failures, and how she has overcome difficulties with her students. Something that there may not usually be time for in teaching.

Scared of presenting

3 remedies for stage fright that can be applied to everyone

Look at an event you have experienced before
Look at a time when you performed, spoke, lectured or whatever it may be, and it felt good or at least decent. What did you do? Be specific! What worked? How? And in what way? What do you need to perform at your best?

Describe an uncomfortable situation and practice
How can you work on a situation that makes you uncomfortable? Can you practice it? Start looking at this well in advance, not the same week as your presentation. Make sure to use a good friend, teacher or colleague and try it out with that person. Constructive and caring feedback is important! Choose someone you trust!

Repeat in detail what you have succeeded with
When it goes well, note what makes it go well. We are quick to dwell on thoughts where we go through all the negatives we have experienced. Often at night, right? We go through everything that went wrong over and over again. We can all relate to that. Try to repeat, and in detail, describe to yourself what went well when something went well. It’s a good exercise, and we are not used to doing it. Use that information about yourself; it is, of course, valuable!

 

October 26, 2023

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