It has hit us all at one time or another. It's the bane of many auditioning actors. How an actor handles stage fright can be the difference between a great performance or a mediocre one.
How to deal with this stumbling block? Look no further than the classic self-help book, "Psycho-Cybernetics". Published in 1960 by plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz, M.D., "Psycho-Cybernetics", in the chapter entitled "How to Turn a Crisis into an Opportunity", lists three key ways to turn a pressure-packed situation into performance gold:
1.) Learn certain skills under conditions where we will not be overmotivated; we need to practice without pressure.
2.) We need to learn to react to a crisis with an aggressive, rather than a defensive attitude; to respond to the challenge in the situation, rather than to the menace; to keep our positive goal in mind.
3.) We need to learn to evaluate crisis situations in their true perspective; to try to not make mountains out of molehills
Maltz told the story of an actor who pulled victory from the snarling bite of defeat by pushing worry aside and forging ahead:
Walter Pidgeon, the actor, has told how his first public performance was a complete flop. He was literally 'scared to death.' However, between acts, he reasoned with himself that he had already failed, therefore he had nothing to lose; that if he gave up acting altogether he would be a complete failure as an actor, and therefore he really had nothing to worry about by going back on. He went out in the second act relaxed and confident, and made a big hit.
Being "relaxed and confident" is key, and easier said than done! Remember to do something for your career every day and break a leg!