Repost from Sonicbids Blog
I recently had to record myself on video for a project at school, and even worse, had to watch it numerous times in editing. It drove me kind of crazy. Why do I have my head angled upwards and tilted like that? What’s up with that weird twitchy thing I do when speaking? Why am I talking so fast? Ack, the horror…
It’s easy to nitpick and microanalyze and dwell on such details. Which feels pretty crappy. So not surprisingly, many of us avoid watching video of our performances, even though it can be a hugely helpful self-study aid. After all, video doesn’t lie – so it can help us identify what elements of our performance need work. Do we look stiff? Bored? Move around too much? And how do we sound? Convincing? Dynamic and compelling? Or timid, careful, or uncertain?
Yet in much the same way that simply knowing that broccoli is good for us and donut-triple-bacon cheeseburgers are not doesn’t necessarily change our eating choices, this information by itself isn’t likely to turn us into fans of film study.
But studies of public speaking performance among particularly anxious folks have tested a video-watching process that might make reviewing video slightly less painful. And maybe even change how we feel about future performances.
The self-observer discrepancy
In much the same way that individuals with social phobia tend to have negative and inaccurate perceptions of how they appear to others (which is tied to greater anxiety and avoidance of these sorts of situations), folks who get anxious about public speaking tend to have overly negative perceptions of how they come across when giving a speech, too.
Psychologists have suggested that this “self-observer discrepancy” – or the difference between how we think we come across to others and how they actually see us – is part of what maintains anxiety about performing, and the tendency to avoid it. Certainly makes logical sense; if I think I come off like a total doofus when speaking, I’m going to do my best to avoid any situations where I might have to get in front of a crowd.
But what if my perceptions are skewed? What if other people genuinely think that I perform pretty decently?