Every outspoken leader/artist you now see has had to overcome stage fright and camera shyness at some point. We often hear that some are natural-born leaders, hence the lack of nervousness when they stand in front of a crowd to talk, but asking questions from a few of these “natural–born leaders,” I realized that they did some background work before they got to that point. So, my first few words to you if you are camera-shy or frightened when you see a small/enormous crowd is, “you are not alone, and you can overcome it.”
For the sake of clarity, stage fright as the name implies is the fidgety feeling a person gets when in front of an audience. Similar to that is camera shyness. A camera-shy person might not have stage fright, but once the camera is on them, that fidgety feeling comes on almost immediately, more like a fight-or-flight response.
Not to sound like a chemistry teacher. A fight-or-flight response is your body’s natural physiological reaction in response to a proposed threat. For instance, if you are in a bushy environment at night, and you suddenly hear strange sounds, your nervous system stimulates the adrenal gland to release some hormones that tell your body to either wait and fight what’s in the dark, or take a flight (run) before a horrible scenario plays out.
With a stage fright and camera shyness, the adrenal gland is usually stimulated as soon as you appear in front of an audience and a camera. And, the fight-or-flight response is your body’s way of communicating with you, asking if you wish to overcome the frightful feeling or not.
Reasons for stage fright and camera shyness
There are many reasons for stage fright and camera shyness, but here are some major reasons.
- Introverted nature: Camera shyness and stage fright seem to be one of the traits of almost every introverted individual. An introverted person would always prefer a settled environment with less-social interaction. So, imagine the shock that will come with a crowd or standing in front of an audience.
- Unpleasant experiences: Even a once-outspoken person can find it difficult to stand before a public appearance due to some unpalatable occurrences. For instance, Rose is a university student who loves to speak, and she has had the chance to speak in front of many people. During one of her speaking gigs, she was laughed at for making a few pronunciation errors, which she took in good faith. The next time she spoke, she was gravely laughed at by some male audience who felt she shouldn’t be addressing them because she is female. Rose began to speak less and eventually took the back seat.
Ugly experiences can surely take a toll on anyone irrespective of the person’s strength.
- Self-consciousness: Before I took a communications class in university, I was always conscious of myself anytime I had to make an appearance, no matter how small my audience was. While talking, I would be conscious of how my shoes looked, face, clothes, even the color of my skin; it was that bad. It’s harder for a self-conscious person to concentrate, and that has a great impact on any attempt to stay calm while on the stage.
- Attention-phobia: Think about it this way: a person afraid of water would not want to be around water. That’s also the case with an attention-phobic individual. Little attention can cause him/her to shiver, feel all sweaty, and wish the ground could open up. It can be extremely draining because you want to do great things, but that phobia seems to always spoil the show.
- Insecurities/lack of confidence: This point is somewhat tied to self-consciousness. Several reasons can make a person feel insecure, and a feeling of insecurity brings about a lack of confidence, which eventually makes you fidget at the idea of speaking to people or in front of a camera.
How to overcome stage fright and camera shyness
There are many ways to overcome stage fright and shyness, depending on the reasons.
- Practice: Practicing makes you comfortable. You can start by practicing your speech/performance in front of people you are comfortable with before going on stage. After several attempts, you will understand the topic/act enough, and there is a level of confidence that comes with knowing what you want to say/do. So, PRACTICE MORE!!!
- Take a communications class: Not only will you be able to articulate your words better, but it will also teach you how to overcome nervousness. My communications professor would always say that “it’s okay to be nervous, but don’t let it show.” Not letting your nervousness show comes from learning how to compose yourself, speech, and knowing how to grab your listener’s attention, all of which you learn from taking the class.
- Look good: I know you are wondering how this is a solution. Wait a minute! Do you remember the time you dressed so well that people were looking at you at every turn? You felt confident and like a boss, right? Yea, that’s the effect of looking good; it boosts your self-confidence and sends off any stage fright or camera shyness.
- Talk more: If you are one who has had an episode (s) of terrible experiences while speaking, you can pick yourself up again by talking. Talking to your friends, mirror, phone, etc., whatever channel that will help to bring back your confident self, use it/them to the fullest.
- Reach out to a therapist/counselor: The best option sometimes could be to talk to a professional about how you feel. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; matter of fact, I admire you because taking this step shows how determined you are to be better. So, if speaking to a therapist about your attention-phobia makes you a better speaker/artist, please do so.
- Treat the cause NOT the effect: If the problem is insecurity about how your mouth looks when you are talking, or the way you feel about your body, for instance, doing all I said in points 1-4 might not work for you because that would be treating the effect and not the cause. Here, the first step is getting over your insecurities by appreciating them, because they make you, YOU, or by employing other good ways to get over them. Once that’s done, then you can now apply points 1-4.
Being frightened at the idea of speaking/appearing in front of an audience happens to everybody. And to think you are the only one is to think that it’s difficult to be better. But I’m screaming in your ears this very minute that you are not alone, and you can be a brilliant speaker/performer too.
Take notes of all the points on how to overcome stage fright and camera shyness mentioned above; implement those that work for you, and I am certain that your next appearance in front of an audience will be magical.
Keep working on yourself, and I am rooting for you!