Today@Sam Article

Performing Under Pressure - Distinguished Lecturer Series

Sept. 4, 2018
SHSU Media Contact: Wes Hamilton


In a world where tests make the difference between a passing and failing grade, which leads to graduating, which leads to a career, there is a lot of pressure on college students to perform on a daily basis. Tuesday, Sept. 4, the Distinguished Lecturer Series hosted Don Greene as he gave his presentation "Performing Under Pressure" at the Gaertner Performing Arts Center in front of students, faculty and staff.

Greene is a peak performance psychologist who has taught at The Julliard School, Colburn School, New World Symphony, Los Angeles Opera, Young Artists Program, Vail Ski School, Perlman Music Program and the US Olympic Training Center. 

During his 32-year career he has coached more than 1,000 performers to win professional auditions under immense pressure, and he has seen the Olympic athletes he has worked with win 14 medals, including five gold. 

The one-hour lecture, all about focusing your mind on the right tactics that lead to peak performance no matter what circumstance you are under, was actually Greene’s first on stage appearance in more than two years.

“I checked my pulse before walking on stage and it was 150,” Greene said, to begin his time on stage. “Am I nervous, yes, but I will focus that energy and use it.” 

Greene went on to admit that one of his biggest fears growing up, ironically, was public speaking. Greene has overcome this to give countless speeches over the years, including a TED-Ed video “How to practice effectively for just about anything.” That TED-talk now has more than 11 million views. It is safe to say that nerves do not get the best of Greene on stage anymore.

“You are supposed to be nervous,” said Greene. “Pressure affects us all, from Olympic athletes to students taking a standardized test or giving an oral presentation. The question is, can you find a way to use that pressure, that adrenaline, can you harness it and use to it your advantage in the big moment?” 

Greene has authored seven books including: Audition Success, Performance Success and Fight Your Fear and Win. Greene emphasized that going with your instincts instead of overthinking is the key to success under pressure. 

“We live in a dangerous world, and we are taught that from a very young age. Our parents make us cautious, we are raised in fear. Don’t touch that. Don’t eat that. Don’t talk to strangers,” said Greene. “But again, it all comes back to finding a way to use that fear, and switch from left-brain, analytical thinking, to right-brain, instinct and feel thinking, that is the key to defeating pressure. The more you think the worse you perform. If you have practiced enough, thinking is the worst thing you can do. Trust your process. Trust your practice.”


For more information on future speakers in the Distinguished Lecturer Series contact 936-294-3415 or

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