Talks Christmas

Visualization to cope with stage fright (part 1)

A 2 minute read written by
Hong Nhung Thi Vo
20.12.2020

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I have always had stage fright. Growing up as a shy kid in a South-East Asian family, I was raised to mostly listen, to let the adults speak and to remain silent. Children were not supposed to be the center of attention at all. This probably affected me a lot as I grew up, getting used to being most comfortable when left unexposed.

12 years ago I started working at Bekk. Here I came across a coach that shared a few visualization techniques with me to help me cope with my anxiety when being on stage, being in the spotlight.

I have used these techniques several times, and especially when preparing for important presentations, for example competency days for the whole company or big conferences like JavaZone. Today I want to share the first technique with you! I call it The cinema.

The cinema 🎥

Close your eyes and try this one out.

Through your own eyes

  1. Picture yourself sitting in the front row at the cinema.
  2. Now imagine you stand up and walk up on stage in front of the audience.
  3. Have a good look at the audience and start the first words of your presentation.
  4. Imagine you finish the rest of your presentation and return to your seat.
  5. Repeat this process a couple of times.

Zoom out

Now zoom out one step, and watch yourself in a movie instead.

  1. Picture yourself sitting in the front row at the cinema and watching a movie.
  2. In this movie, you see yourself sitting in a cinema. You stand up and walk up in front of the audience.
  3. This person in the movie (you) takes a good look at the audience and then starts the presentation.
  4. Watch yourself finish the presentation and return to your seat in the movie. The movie ends.
  5. Repeat this process a couple of times.

Zoom out even more

Now zoom out even further, and watch yourself watching yourself! 🤯

  1. Picture yourself sitting in the control room of the cinema, watching yourself sitting in the front row, watching yourself on the screen.
  2. So you watch the person in front row (you) watching yourself stand up in the movie and walk up on stage.
  3. This person in the movie (you) takes a good look at the audience and then starts the presentation.
  4. Watch yourself watching yourself finish the presentation and return to your seat.
  5. Repeat this process a couple of times.

The effect

Switching the view from watching yourself through your own eyes, and then from the outside, and then from even further away, made me somehow smaller and less exposed than I expected.

Repetition is also a key here. Doing this several times helped me practice the process to walk up, start the presentation, finish it and return to my seat. The more times I have been through the process, the less scary it got.

I hope some of this can help others cope with stage fright or other related feelings when being in the spotlight!

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