Free Training
Back to Articles

The Spotlight Effect aka Performance Induced Identity Dissonance

Jan 18, 2024

The Raging Gap Between Personality and the One Hijacking the Stage:

Why are intelligent people struggling to feel themselves in the spotlight?
How can we close the gap between how a leader shows up in ‘the real world’ and ‘in the spotlight’?

Isn’t it maddening that we seem to shift personality just because someone is watching?
What’s so difficult with ‘just being you’?

What happens is: Performance induced Identity Dissonance. PIID.
This term is new. (Created by me)
The phenomenon is not.

What It Is:

Performance-Induced Identity Dissonance (PIID) is a state where individuals experience a fragmentation of their self-identity in performance contexts, such as public speaking or being on camera. This fragmentation leads to a disconnect between their authentic self and the persona they find themselves adopting, often feeling like they're losing control over their own behaviour and self-awareness.
This might symptomize in i.e a more ‘robotic personality’ or an ‘over the top contrived performance and has many variations in between. Movement patterns, vocal tonality mismatches, the fluid humanity of the individual is compromised by an induced stress response of fight, flight, freeze or fawn. This is expressed through the variety of expressive modalities (body, voice, mind)

How It Happens:

PIID occurs when the pressure of performance leads individuals to unconsciously shift away from their authentic self. This shift is not a deliberate adaptation but more of a reactive, involuntary response to the perceived demands of the situation. The individual may find themselves behaving in ways that feel alien or uncharacteristic, creating a sense of internal fracture and loss of self-control.

Why It's Important to Know:

Recognizing PIID is essential because it can significantly impact a person's psychological well-being and effectiveness in performance roles. The loss of autonomy and the sense of being fragmented can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and a feeling of being inauthentic, which can undermine their performance and self-esteem. It generally also registers as a dislike to public speaking and a desire to shy away from opportunities of public representation.

What to Do:

Addressing PIID involves first becoming aware of these involuntary shifts and understanding their triggers.

With bespoke coaching, presentation training and techniques such as mindfulness, self-reflection, and grounding exercises, I help individuals to reintegrate the fragmented parts of their identity and to remain connected to their authentic self. Developing strategies to maintain a sense of authenticity in performance situations such as learning to own and accept shadow parts of one’s personality as well as embracing more vulnerable personality aspects will reduce the dissonance and enhance their overall well-being and performance efficacy.

In essence, PIID becomes palpable as the gap between a person in the ‘real world’ and the one showing up in the spotlight. It highlights the involuntary loss of autonomy and identity fragmentation that individuals might experience in performance settings, underlining the importance of awareness and strategies and personal development for maintaining integrity of the self.


How much impact do you have as a speaker? Find out now!

Take the Impact Scorecard!

Receive Access to Insider Inspiration:

Stories to motivate, Tips and Course Infos delivered straight to your inbox.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.