It’s perfectly normal to be nervous before a big performance. Standing under the bright lights of the stage can be as scary as a job interview – for exactly the same reasons. In my case, it is a fear of failure and anxiousness about being put “on the spot” that gives me stage fright.
In the following, I would like to outline some of the ways I have successfully overcome performance anxiety:
Stage Fright– a.k.a. Performance Anxiety, Aphonia, Buck Fever, The Jitters
Symptoms: Shaky hands, tight throat, shortness of breath, sweat, fear, pounding heart, dry mouth, blushing, and forgetfulness
What is it? Stage fright is a stress reaction occuring before or during an appearance before an audience. It is your animal brain’s “fight or flight” reaction to stress. Your body pumps adrenaline giving you an extra shot of energy to either stand and fight or run for the hills.
WHAT DO I DO?
- Address your symptoms:
- Closed throat
- Shortness of breath
- Butterflies in stomach
- Racing heart
You need to calm down. Try this:
- Drink chamomile tea
- Take 10 deep breaths
- Stretch like you just woke up (sends a “relax” message to brain)
- Sweaty palms
- Shaky hands
- Jittery, nervous energy
Shake it off, like a dog shakes off water
- You are not alone:
Everybody goes through this. EVERYBODY. Some people can “harness” nervous energy in a productive way and others freeze. Take courage in knowing that you are not alone.
- Be Prepared:
Become an expert in your topic. Do you want a pay raise? Research your arguments beforehand.
- Practice makes perfect:
This phrase is a cliché for a reason – it’s true. Do you have a solo in your school’s choir performance? Sing until you can’t get the song out of your head.
- Imagine the worst:
Performance anxiety is often a fear of failure. Go ahead… imagine the worst that will happen. While you’re at it, reason your way through why it is ridiculous to be so nervous and address potential problems.
- Follow the leader:
Look for inspiration from media, people you admire, and current events. When searching for inspiration pay attention to the things that work well with the audience and the things that you would do differently.
Do you have to deliver a sales pitch to a potential client? Watch the “Wolf of Wallstreet”. Are you nervous about a first date? Watch “Hitch”. If I had to deliver a political speech, I would watch Barack Obama’s most recent State of the Union Address.
- Be good to yourself:
You know you will be stressed, so take care of yourself.
Here are some pointers:
- Avoid sugar, coffee, and dairy
- Take vitamins & eat healthy
- Get a haircut
- Take time to look extra foxy
Smile and greet your audience. Remember they want you to be successful.
If you are really nervous, I recommend talking to the five points of a die:
- Two people on either side of the front row;
- Somebody towards the middle;
- Two people on either side of the back row.
- Fake it ‘til you make it:
- Stand / sit in a self-confident manner
- Think happy thoughts
- You do not have time for negativity and self doubt right now you need to focus on being you.
- You will not be perfect:
THAT IS TOTALLY FINE! You will probably notice your mistakes more than anybody else.
Try to remember – this is what you have been preparing for (and it’s almost over).
Did I miss something? Do you have another way to cope with the stress of stage fright? Did this article help you? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.