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Dr. Gannon in the San Francisco Chronicle

Expert Advice: Brain-Based Techniques Help Body Neutralize “Stage Fright”


Performance anxiety, also known as “stage fright,” is not reserved for the Barbra Streisands and Carly Simons of the world, two singers well known for their preperformance jitters.

In fact, a surprising number of performers – up to 70 percent of all orchestral musicians, according to surveys – report a history of performance anxiety. But many performers have their own personal coaches, trainers and doctors who show them how to regulate anxiety and manage to go on to give inspiring performances.

But what about the rest of us?

Talk to almost anyone, and they will tell you about their “deer in the headlights” moment, when they froze before speaking to an audience or felt overwhelmed by having the attention turned on them. Speaking up at a school meeting, giving a toast at a friend’s wedding, making a sales presentation, giving testimony at a trial or deposition, even sitting for an IRS audit, any situation where you want to perform well can activate the telltale symptoms of dry mouth, rapid breathing and pounding heart…

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