- 1: nervousness felt at appearing before an audience
Stage fright or performance anxiety is the anxiety, fear, or persistent phobia which may be aroused in an individual by the requirement to perform in front of an audience, whether actually or potentially (for example, when performing before a camera). In the context of public speaking, this may precede or accompany participation in any activity involving public self-presentation. In some cases stage fright may be a part of a larger pattern of social phobia or social anxiety disorder, but many people experience stage fright without any wider problems. Quite often, stage fright arises in a mere anticipation of a performance, often a long time ahead. It has numerous manifestations: fluttering or pounding heart, tremor in the hands and legs, sweaty hands, facial nerve tics, dry mouth, and erectile dysfunction.
Stage fright may be observed in people of all experience and background, from those completely new to being in front of an audience to those who have done so for years. It is commonly known among everyday people, which may, for example, affect one's confidence in job interviews. It also affects actors, comedians, musicians, and politicians. Many people with no other problems can experience stage fright, but some people with chronic stage fright also have social anxiety or social phobia which are chronic feelings of high anxiety in any social situation. Stage fright can also be seen in school situations, like stand up projects and class speeches.