When I first started playing concerts with bands or doing amateur drama, I got scared. Really scared. Throwing up scared. In fact I still remember the sheer terror of being chosen to sing “In the deep mid-winter” at our school assembly at the age of 9. The stuff of nightmares. Perhaps these may be feelings not altogether unfamiliar for you. As I spent more and more time on stage however, the feelings of nervousness and apprehension slowly disappeared. I got used to the stress and could handle the pressure. But did I actually perform better?
What has always intrigued me is how our mental attitude affects performance. And of course, what we can do to improve things. One of the most studied areas of performance under pressure is the world of the top athlete and the psychological skills they put to their advantage. Great for them, you say, but do these techniques actually work? Or more importantly, what tips or tricks can we use to help us perform when we are giving a presentation, interviewing for that dream job, or closing that sale?
If you are equally curious as to the answers to these questions, and what indeed works for you, then I suggest that you head over to the BBC Lab where you can find out. Not only do you get your performance analysed by none other than Michael Johnson (sort of), but you get to be part of actual science. Hooray!