Understanding Fear in Performing

There are three things about performance fear that, if you understand them, can really help you let go.

This episode/video sets out what they are, so you can feel more empowered and less ashamed, and finally believe there is a route to letting go of your fears and worries.

I hope you enjoy!

Episode 43 - Understanding Fear in Performing scale

The Courageous Performer Podcast

Understanding Fear in Performing

If you would like to learn how to let go and perform brilliantly, so that you can feel confident (even without being able to guarantee the outcome!) then go to nailyourperformance.com to find out how to work with me.

Read the episode transcript here:

[00:00:00] Hi, I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice and today I want to talk to you about fear and the fact that fear is not inevitable. I work with performers around fear. I work with them, helping them become courageous and comfortable in front of audiences to let go of their fears. So clearly I believe that fear is not inevitable.

But there is another thing I want to, there are two other things I want to say about fear. The first is that although it's not inevitable, it is entirely possible. Natural. It is a natural human reaction designed to help us protect ourselves. It is designed to trigger all these protective mechanisms. So it is there to keep us safe.

And so if you feel nervous or anxious or fearful performing, Don't be hard on yourself. Be kind to yourself because this is a normal reaction to a threat or a perceived threat. And now, there might be a [00:01:00] real life threat, a career threat, or some other, you know, this matters, if you mess it up, then something bad will happen to you.

There might be that involved in this performance and there may just be a perceived threat. You fear that people will think this, you fear that people will think that. And those threats and perceived threats are very real to you, so the reaction of fear is entirely normal, but as I say, not inevitable. And the third thing is to remember, and I've said this in another podcast episode, that some people believe fear is useful.

Now, there are certain circumstances in which fear is, is useful. As I say, it's designed to trigger us to look after ourselves and keep ourselves safe. In performance, I generally find it's not, and it's certainly not a good motivator. Now, don't get me wrong, it can be an effective motivator, but it's not a good one to choose because it creates tension, for one, and the other thing is, it [00:02:00] means our self esteem gets attacked and knocked, so it will impact your self esteem negatively if you repeatedly use fear as a motivator.

Not only that, it will cause all sorts of issues with the way you process your thoughts, how tense your body is, how you connect with the audience. If you interweave fear into what you do. So, you know, I call my program, my signature program, The Fearless Performer. So, clearly, I don't believe that fear is inevitable.

Adrenaline is really useful. But that doesn't have to be associated with fear. You can get adrenaline from excitement. The fear, as I said, comes from this idea that there is a threat out there. And the way, the best way of dealing with that perception of threat is to reality check it. Because often as not, we don't look at our fears.

And then they [00:03:00] start to take over. But when you reality check your fears, it can take the sting out of them, often as not. Because what we often discover, what you will discover is, you will work out what your worst case scenario is. And then, whether you can deal with that worst case scenario. Now you may not like the outcome of the worst case scenario, but the question is can you survive it? Will you come back and one of my favorite quotes is in terms of survival I've got a hundred percent success rate so far. You know, I can't guarantee that in the future, but so far I have a hundred percent success rate and Bringing fear into that equation actually makes it more likely that I'm going to fail So the fear that I bring in doesn't do what I hope it will do and make me more engaged the fear of It actually distracts me, creates tension, creates mental clutter, and makes it harder to do my job.

What will get me on [00:04:00] point is excitement and enthusiasm about what I'm doing. And the way to get to that is to do three things. As I say, first check in with what your fear is. Reality check it. Check the worst case scenario and work out a way to survive that. Because if you have a way of surviving your worst case scenario, then you know you will go out and you will survive.

And the worst thing that can happen, if it happens, you will be okay. Then, think about the material. Think about what it is you are performing. And whether you're an actor, singer, dancer, public speaker, You will have material and think about the reason you are performing that material. What is the purpose?

What is the function? What is the goal of your performance? Because if you're not connected with that, you won't be able to deliver that to the audience. So, Find a way to really connect with what you are performing and that will automatically reduce your fears because you are thinking about the material and whilst you're [00:05:00] thinking about the material, you won't be thinking about what can go wrong.

Really focus on what it is you want to communicate. And thirdly, look at your audience. Think about your audience. Because so often we do dehumanize our audience and we make them this judgmental mass. Don't dehumanize them. Humanize them. Remember that they are insecure themselves likely is not because the vast majority of us have insecurities including me, and you know, I teach this stuff.

They are human, they are capable of doing great things and messing up, just like you. They want something from this, and this goes back to going to your material, and I will say this again and again and again in all sorts of different ways, and I hope that you will understand what I'm trying to say in terms of reconnect with yourself and check in with your fears, reconnect with your material, and connect with your audience.

These are the three messages I give, and I give it in much more detail in my Free Your Voice workshops. which I've got coming up actually in April, so do keep an eye out for those. [00:06:00] I'll put the link in, the blurb that goes with the video or the, the audio. Because that is the way to really let go of your fears, because then you are unpicking the perceived threat.

And you're taking the sting out of the perceived threat. And this way you can give more to your audience and then you get this wonderful positive feedback loop because as you give more to your audience you can feel them receiving that and then you, because you feel that, even more sting comes out of it because you can feel that positive response to what you're doing which means you then perform even better.

So if you take anything away from this, well, there are three things I'd like you to take away from this. One, fear is not inevitable. You don't have to be afraid when performing. Two, even though it's not inevitable, it's also entirely normal and natural. So don't beat yourself up for feeling fear. [00:07:00] We all do, and every performer I've ever met has had some level of fear or stage fright.

Even the most confident ones. Ones that I would never have believed have struggled, have struggled. So don't beat yourself up. You are entirely normal.

Three it isn't the best motivator. It isn't a good motivator It's an effective motivator short term But with such a cost that it is not one I would ever recommend you choose there are different ways of approaching a performance that can give you so much more and give you everything that the fear adrenaline gives you too.

So, thank you so much for listening. I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice.