Spotlight Effect

The Spotlight Effect

One of the tools that I teach to help people be more confident and less nervous when public speaking is the “Anxiety Reality Check”. It simply means that whatever is happening for you as you are standing speaking before an audience – the sweaty palms, quiver in your voice, shaky hands, fast pulse, racing mind – the audience only sees 50% of it. Your reality is not the reality that the audience sees. They only see half of what you are experiencing and in their eyes you are doing twice as good, 200% better than you personally feel you are doing.

SpotlightA similar phenomena is called the “Spotlight Effect”. Wikipedia defines the Spotlight Effect as “The spotlight effect is a common form of social anxiety that causes people to have a tendency to overestimate the extent to which surrounding others notice aspects of one’s appearance or behaviour, and the extent to which they are aware of it. The spotlight effect can lead people to feelings of paranoia and self-doubt. This also makes people believe that they will be judged harshly based on their failures. Overall, the spotlight effect explains how people overestimate the amount of attention that is focused on them in group settings.”

I now realise that the Anxiety Reality Check and Spotlight Effect describe the same effect and the same experience when you get before an audience and feel nervous. When you are on the stage, in the spotlight so to speak, we over asses how we are doing and we are too harsh on ourselves and our own perceived performance.

This is good news and confirms that if we can just let go of our own self-image, our own self-assessment and listen to what the audience is telling us – the true assessment of how we are going, we would realise that we are doing twice as good as we thought we were. So let go of you own assessment and self-perception, do the best job you can and recognise and acknowledge that you are doing twice as good as you realise. This is the secret and the single biggest step to help you overcome nervous and become more confident when you are public speaking.

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