I don’t know anyone who doesn’t get a little stage fright when they get up to speak. It’s natural and it’s healthy, part of the body and mind’s natural response to stress. Here are some great strategies and the cognitive science behind them from an HBR article on Alison Wood Brooks’ new book, Overcoming Nervous Nelly.
In the study, Brooks surprised participants by informing them that they would be publicly singing the first verse of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Instantly, the participants’ heart rate monitors shot up. She inserted one important twist: Before performing, she asked participants to repeat a statement out loud. Some were randomly assigned to say “I am excited,” while others said, “I am anxious” or “I am calm.” That simple reframing device dramatically changed the outcome of their performances.
Measured by voice recognition software that rated pitch, volume, and rhythm, the “I am excited” performers scored an average of 81 percent, while performers who said “I am anxious” notched 69 percent, and those who said “I am calm” gained a miserable 53 percent.