In a previous blog entry we looked at how therapy can benefit performers. The most common techniques to overcome this type of anxiety involve breathing and meditation exercises, focusing on pre-performance preparation, exploring what each performance means to the performer (what am I getting out of it?), magnifying emotions in order to feel that we can control them and, finally, embracing the feeling and, if possible, using it creatively during performances (for example a spoken word performer may allow their vulnerability and anxiety to come out during the performance).
A new study from the Harvard business school has a new recommendation. It involves reinterpreting the feeling of stage fright and labeling it excitement rather than anxiety. The idea is that this positive spin to the experience will decrease arousal and physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, shortness of breath and dry mouth. In fact, saying things such as "calm down" may not be as effective as telling oneself "you are so excited right now! you love this feeling!"
You can find a summary of the study and an interview with clinical psychologist, Guy Winch, here. And you can go here to read that study itself.