Visualization to cope with stage fright (part 2)

In this previous post I wrote about how I came across a few visualization techniques to manage my own fear. Today I am going to share the next one. I call it The Charlie Chaplin movie.

2 min read


By Hong Nhung Thi Vo


December 21, 2020

The Charlie Chaplin movie 🎞️

I am always most nervous in the beginning of a talk. This technique is all about disrupting that pattern and create some new emotions to relate to during the start.

Close your eyes and try this one out.

Watch the movie

  1. Watch a movie where you are the main character.
  2. In this movie picture yourself standing up, walk up on stage and start your presentation. Feel the anxiety in the beginning.
  3. Watch yourself finish the presentation in the movie, soak in the applause and hold on to that feeling of relief.
  4. In that moment, freeze the picture of you on stage.

Tamper with the movie

  1. Remove the colours and make that picture black and white.
  2. Remove the sound :mute:
  3. Then rewind :rewind: the movie quickly back to the start of the presentation, when you felt really nervous.
  4. Fast forward :fast_forward: from the start to the end. Then play it backwards again, really fast. Do this back and forth a couple of times.
  5. Add some funny music to this black and white movie. Something comedic, carnival-like. Keep playing it quickly forward and backward several times. I always envision something like a Charlie Chaplin movie.

Notice how the picture of anxiety and the picture of relief now are so close to each other, like two scenes in a movie appearing sequentially.

The effect

Experiencing the two opposite feelings side by side felt comforting and in a way safe for me. Two opposite emotions, but somehow also so close. You can feel uncomfortable in one moment, but this can all change in the next one.

The black and white movie with the fast pace and the quirky music really made me smile. Picturing myself in a Charlie Chaplin movie, walking awkwardly up and down numerous times to give a presentation — how hilarious! This made me not take this all too seriously.

All this helps me disrupt the anxiety I feel in the beginning. I am still nervous, but I also remember that I have seen this movie before, and I know the ending very well. It is a happy one!

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