Performance anxiety

Performance anxiety: the phobia of being assessed

This is the fear or phobia of being judged unfavourably on the basis of how you perform in an interview, examination, test, or public talk or presentation.

Such situations are unfair – yet they are a necessary part of our society and have been for thousands of years.

They are unfair for a variety of reasons – including the propensity of the interviewer or examiner to respond subjectively rather than objectively.

They are unfair because of the tendency for examination papers to sometimes be worded ambiguously.

They are unfair because they are frequently one-off moments on which a person’s future can depend – yet on that particular day we may feel unwell or be below par mentally.


Such situations are here to stay!

Being judged by others is and has been part of our society for thousands of years. So how do we stack the odds in our own favour – assuming we have made all of the practical preparations?

Keep your self esteem inviolate!

First of all we need to be clear about what is occurring. YOU are not being evaluated. Your performance is!

The difference is important. Your personal worth is not at stake – only your ability to perform in some way. Which means that whether you success or not the only issue that has been judged is your skill. Not your self esteem.

If you feel bad about yourself after an examination or interview that is your problem – and it is your problem because you are not seeing the situation for what it is. It is a test of your skill – of how much you have studied or practised or of your ability to manage your physical and emotional state.

It is (only) about your ‘skill’

If your skill is not up to the required standard you can learn or practise some more! If your ability to manage your physical and emotional state lets you down you can develop better or additional skills.

But, whatever the result of the examination or interview, your self esteem needs to remain intact and inviolate!

They are not judging YOU they are judging how well you have prepared, how you have performed, how much knowledge you have assimilated, how much experience you have – all of which are reflections of your behaviour and your preparation and not of your personal worth.

Before your ‘performance’ ask yourself if you have prepared well enough. If you have not prepared sufficiently that’s something you need to attend to for next time. If you have prepared well enough now is the time to relax a little and allow yourself to shine.

Next attend to your nervousness

Whatever the rationales of the situation there is still the emotional ‘kick’ that comes with being evaluated. And this has to be dealt with at the emotional level.

So assuming you have thoroughly prepared your skills you now need to manage your emotions so that you are able to allow your skills to show through.



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