Use ISIE to Conquer Performance Anxiety

Let’s talk about nerves, fear, being scared of audiences as a speaker and as an actor.  There is an approach I’ve used with clients on such issues and I’d like to share it with you.  Turn I’M SCARED into I’M EXCITED. Days, hours, even minutes before you audition, or go on stage to perform or speak, – turn it around. It’s easy – I S I E.


1)   Admit you’re scared

That’s right admit it.  Say it out loud.  I’m afraid I am going to SCREW UP and make a FOOL of myself.  I’m afraid I’ll FORGET what I’m saying.  I’m afraid I DON’T KNOW ENOUGH.  I’m afraid they WON’T LIKE ME. Realize this is OLD STUFF.  and it’s easy to CHANGE.

The adrenaline rush is the same

REMEMBER A TIME YOU WERE AFRAID . . . . NOW REMEMBER A TIME YOU WERE EXCITED. ANY DIFFERENCE IN YOUR BODY? Your heart races, you feel butterflies flapping wildly in your gut, your breathing intensifies, you feel a sense of heightened sensitivity as your eyes widen and your limbs quiver with anticipation. They’re the same. So focus on IT’S EXCITING!

2)   It’s Exciting

You have a MESSAGE.  You KNOW it will be USEFUL to your audience.  Get excited about it.  Get excited about meeting new people.  Get excited about having a gift to give people that will make a difference in their lives.  Get excited that you have this wonderful opportunity to be part of a community.  Get excited because it WILL BE A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE. It works. Our mind starts imaging it ALL WORKING.

GOT IT? Now there is more to public speaking, – vocal presence, authenticity, the construction of the speech. Next to content, the truth is, NONE OF THAT IS AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR EXCITEMENT, YOUR ENTHUSIASM. It trumps everything.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to calm this powerful Niagara Falls of adrenalin. Your body is geared up for fight or flight and trying to deny it won’t help make it go away.

If you’ve been reading this newsletter you know you need a solid preparation before going on stage. Your physical being is as important as your vocal presence.  Here’s a quick way of dealing with this rush.

Jump up and down, run around the block and recite  IT’S EXCITING (even if at first you don’t believe it), this physical action can make a huge difference. Harnessing this energy instead of denying it can turn a GOOD SPEAKER INTO A GREAT ONE.



TWO STORIES – Matt and Jon

Matt is waiting to go on stage to talk about the new product line his company is offering to the public next week. He’s nervous. And that is THE MAIN SENTENCE in his head. “Damn. I’m soo scared. I wish I wasn’t nervous. I’m going to screw this up.  He repeats this over and over again like a mantra that takes hold and digs in deeper and deeper.  He waits to go on and speak and his breathing is shallow and he’s shaking and his hands are cold.  He tries to take deep breaths but by then he has so convinced himself he can’t do this, the breathing is of little help. He tries to distract himself and thinks about other things.  He withdraws within himself in an attempt to escape.

Jon is waiting for his introduction about himself and his topic to finish – Sleeker Widgets for a Safer Vehicle. He’s been excited most of the day. He was so revved up about this talk that he went for a short run before coming to the convention. He’s been thinking about the speech all day, running over the stats and the story he’s going to tell, as the butterflies in his stomach flutter away. He’s been telling himself, They are going to be so happy to know there is a better widget for our product. It will make them feel we are the best in the industry. This is going to be great. I’m so lucky I can deliver this good news to them.” He didn’t quite believe it at first. He was tempted to call it fear, but he resisted. Backstage he feels the excitement level increasing and paces the floor, humming to himself every now and then to discharge the adrenaline and keep himself focused.

His body is dong the same thing Matt’s is, but Jon keeps moving and keeps up the list of why it’s exciting,

The two speakers have totally different experiences. Matt has spent so much time trying to distance himself from thinking about the speech, he appears disinterested in it. He’s been trying to keep his body still so he could relax. All this energy is all bottled up ready to blow, but he holds on tight to control it. His voice is monotone and he runs through his speech quickly without pausing or connecting to the audience. No one really hears what he has to say. He leaves beating himself up for being a failure. This only sets the stage for his next speech to go south.

Jon bounds onto the stage smiling, full of energy and it’s immediately obvious to one and all. He’s been releasing adrenaline all day so he can let it out slowly and maintain a voice that is connected to his body and his excitement about his topic. Even when he makes mistakes people don’t notice, he just continues right on with the flow of excitement that permeates everything. He leaves feeling successful and appreciated.

Share this article

Related Posts

A Speaker Prepares
A Speaker Prepares Just like the actor, the great speakers prepare before they go on.  And there are so many different ways of doing it.  [...]
09 May 2012