Performance Anxiety Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1814 Words
Date:  2022-06-27


Performance anxiety is one of the most prevalent forms of anxiety that exhibits in very many ways. It can be seen when one's heart pounds out of panic when caught in a compromising situation. Many people feel extremely fearful of public speaking, for instance, as they are not sure how the audience will judge them. Performance anxiety is simply the fear of failing or performing dismally in a given activity. It is also the fear that the audience or whoever is involved in doing the action will have the perception that the doer failed to perform. It is evident in everyday activities such as examinations and interviews, during presentations, tests and even when giving speeches and public speaking (Nagel, 2011). This paper takes an in-depth view of performance anxiety in our day-to-day living.

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As seen above, performance anxiety is simply the emotional state characterized by intense nervousness, worry and general apprehension that can potentially inhibit how well one can perform a given action. In this inhibition state, it creates negative thoughts and perspectives that may also affect future performances. The fact that this form of anxiety affects the performance in that specific moment also implies that it can result in debilitating psychological suffering to the victims. Due to the many situations in which the term can be applied, it is worth noting that performance anxiety takes different names and forms. The DSM-IV groups performance anxiety with social anxiety and general anxiety as there are many shared symptoms (Diller, 2013). The following is a discussion on the three main categories of performance anxiety.

Speeches and Public Performances under Pressure

Speeches and public presentations entail standing before people and talking to them. Some people are naturally shy, and the thought of making a presentation or a speech before many people scares them. Shyness is deeply entrenched in social anxiety, and this is a critical way in which the fear of audiences manifests. In other times, this anxiety is attributed to the fear of being judged. From the audience, there is the likelihood that some people will perceive that the speaker is wrong, misstating some facts, or simply inexperienced and not well-versed in the area or field under deliberations (15 Minutes 4 Me, 2018).

Another cause of this type of performance anxiety is inexperience. When it is one's first time on stage, they are likely to experience this tension and anxiety. If the experiences turn out positive, this anxiety is likely to be subdued (Nagel, 2011). In the case that the presenter faces some issues that make them anxious, there is the likelihood that their current and future performances may be affected by this form of anxiety.

Perfectionists and those who strongly distaste failure are quite prone to this kind of anxiety. They often take much time preparing to ensure that everything is perfect. During the presentation or speech, they aim for perfection. Any simple challenge is likely to make them anxious and mess up the speech or presentation.

In other times, performance anxiety stems from past instances of being judged or other experiences that make one fear ever going back to the stage again. There are many instances when the audience bullies the presenter, either through incessant questions, laughing and giggling at them and forcing them from the stage, and even through booing. When such actions happen to a presenter, they are likely to fear ever going to the stage to make a presentation again. These actions are harsh, and not everybody can stand them. Stage performance anxiety can also arise from very simple situations. When the audience applause, it may send jitters down one's spine, and the presenter is left confused.

It is important to note that this kind of performance anxiety affects almost everyone. Actors like Lawrence Olivier and Paul Newman have confessed to feeling anxious and being paralyzed by live appearances. Singer Adele confessed about her fear of audiences, noting that she once escaped through the fire exit to avoid the stage (Clapp, 2015). For most people, one of the greatest discomforts is that time they are waiting for their moment in the spotlight. This could be an achievement or even an award. Feelings of "flight or fight," nervousness just before going to the stage are common. Finding a good way to distract oneself from them is critical to minimizing this anticipation pressure. As seen from this analysis, stage fright can have a great influence on one's ability to make a good presentation and that many factors contribute to it. This anxiety creates a mindset in the presentation that is critical and which focuses on the mistakes. Any small mistake, even if no one in the audience notices it, reinforces the fears and can potentially jeopardize the presentation.

Sexual Performance Anxiety

The society puts much pressure on the way they perform in the bedroom, and aspects such as the quality of the sexual experience, the duration, the size of the genitals and the ability to satisfy the sexual partners dominate this domain. It is a reality that most people struggle with their sexual lives due to many factors. Lack of experience can result in the build-up of anxiety about the occasion, and this can affect the individuals' overall performance, as perceived by their partners. During the experience, one party may hold the fear of the experience going wrong, and loathing how their partner will react or think of them. These fears may hold down the sexual experience and cause other serious challenges to crop up. In general, the stress and anxiety about the sexual performance and the fear that one is poor sexual performance could cause dissatisfaction influences this type of anxiety. The downside of sexual performance anxiety is that it results in the participants, especially males, having feelings of unworthiness and lowered self-esteem. This can potentially affect future sexual experiences.

According to Johnson, (2018), performance anxiety is caused by the possession of negative thoughts about one's ability to perform and satisfy their partners fully during the sexual process. Different things influence these feelings and emotions. One's body image, for instance, may convince them that they may not appeal well to their sexual partners hence turning them off. For males, the fear that the penis size may not fully satisfy the sexual experience also abound. These factors all lead up to a skewed perspective of the sexual experience. During the experience, as the mental faculty is still troubled, the physical body is also affected and manifests through ways such as the inability to erect, inability to lubricate and the inability to orgasm.

According to Calmclinic, (2018), there are different ways in which sexual performance anxiety can manifest. One of them is the inability to get arousal or lubrication, depending on the gender. For men, the fear of getting arousal just before the experience can cause them to be anxious and nervous. The quality of the sex is dependent on the quality of the arousal, especially from the male side. According to Men' Journal, a website that is dedicated to men's sexual health, men acknowledge that just one good sexual encounter that is worry-free can go a long way to restoring and boosting their confidence. For women, on the other hand, there may be a struggling achieving lubricating (Calmclinic, 2018). Essentially, for both parties, the body has to be sufficiently aroused and prepared for the experience. Delays in getting prepared can affect the overall performance and are a source of anxiety.

Another manner in which this anxiety manifests is through premature ejaculation. Premature ejaculation happens when the man finishes the sexual process earlier than anticipated. Starting the sexual experience with intense anxiety is attributed to premature ejaculation. Premature ejaculation results in pleasure on one party, while the other still struggles. Such ejaculations may be evidence that there is some tension in the process leading up to the sexual experience. It might be a stressful time for either or all the parties, or there may be other challenges that contribute to the performance anxiety which ends up ruining the sexual experience. Finally, the problem also manifests when there is the inability to orgasm by either party.

From the perspective of the sexual experience, much of the activities that occur before and after are the most definitive. It is therefore important for the parties involved to understand and put in place measures to prevent these anxieties before they ruin the experience. Relaxation, communication, avoidance of panic and focus may help to mitigate the risk factors. If allowed to persist, premature ejaculation can result in the more serious erectile disorder which might require advanced medical attention. Sexual performance anxiety has many contributing factors such as depression, disinterest, high-stress levels, chronic illness, smoking and low hormonal levels among others.

General Symptoms of Performance Anxiety

The general symptoms of performance anxiety can be categorized into three-cognitive, physical and behavioural symptoms and presentations. The cognitive symptoms include the development of a generally negative self-image, being highly self-critical and giving oneself a negative self-evaluation. The victims may also attempt to avoid the situations that caused the anxieties. There is doubt in one's abilities accompanied by an eroded ego. The physical symptoms may include many headaches, heart palpitations and sometimes fainting, stomach complaints and other physical pains (15 Minutes 4 Me, 2018). From a behavioural perspective, performance anxiety is evidenced by the development of a high degree of perfectionism, procrastination, and fear of taking certain risks.


Arguably everyone faces some stress and anxiety when they have to perform a given task or role. As it has been noted above, performance anxiety is prevalent and can have extreme consequences if poorly handled. It is, therefore, important for those facing the problem to seek the needed help. Understanding the problem and establishing a way to manage the stimuli for the risk factors above will help to minimise the negative outcomes of performance anxiety. For both types discussed above, it is clear that the behaviours can be shaped and reinforced. In this regard, those at risk can pick the positive aspects of the performances and put positive reinforcement at work to mould them until they become entrenched in the mental faculties. This can help lower the negative consequences of these anxieties.


Calmclinic, (2018). How to Overcome Performance Anxiety. Retrieved 24 June 2018, from

Clapp, S., (2015). The 10 best... stage fright sufferers. the Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2018, from

Diller, V., (2013). Performance Anxiety. Psychology Today. Retrieved 24 June 2018, from

Johnson, (2018). Performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction: How to cope. Medical News Today. Retrieved 24 June 2018, from

Kubota, T. (2015). How to Conquer Your Performance Anxiety. Men's Journal. Retrieved 24 June 2018, from

Nagel, J., (2011). Panic or Pleasure: Performance Anxiety. Psychology Today. Retrieved 24 June 2018, from

15 Minutes 4 Me., (2018). Performance anxiety? - 15 Minutes 4 Me. R...

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