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Sep 22 2022

11 Effective Tips For Overcoming Stage Fright

Oluwafikunayomi Odusola

Oluwafikunayomi Odusola

Author

Shocked dark skinned man having stage fright about an upcoming performance.

I sang my first soprano solo in 2015. I had practised for months, but I thought the world would end that evening. My knees felt like jelly, and my heart was beating so loudly I thought the congregation would hear it. For the first time, I was grateful that choir robes swept the floor.

Stage fright is common for everyone, from professional presenters to Broadway stars. I mean, I’ve been on stage since I could hold a microphone. Make it make sense that I had stage fright for a presentation that wasn’t even my 10th!

You can develop stage fright weeks before your big show or even on D-Day. It usually begins with cold feet and panic at the thought of the performance. But don’t worry. You can conquer stage fright by training your body and mind to relax. 

If you want to know how to overcome your stage fright, we have valuable tips that can help. Let’s get right into it!

Pretty black woman feeling anxious and having stage fright.

What is Stage Fright?

Stage fright, also known as performance anxiety, is the fear or anxiety caused by the thought of addressing an audience publicly. This fear isn’t limited to a physical audience but also to a virtual one.

Moreso, stage fright doesn’t usually mean shyness. I’ve seen the timidest people make dazzling public presentations, and bubbling extroverts stutter and sweat on stage. Anyone can experience stage fright, even professionals.

Rihanna, for instance, forms a prayer circle with her musicians=s and backup singers right before she gets on stage. Beyonce gets a massage and listens to a special pre-performance playlist. Demi Lovato listens to Nicki Minaj before going on stage to help her cope!

Shot of a beautiful woman sweating.

What Causes Stage Fright?

Why do people get nervous when they have to address an audience in public?

  • Poor preparation

They’re not well-prepared for the presentation.

  • Physical appearance:

They feel self-conscious and insecure about how they look.

  • Personality traits:

Introverts, for instance, may find it difficult to interact with a large number of people.

  • Mistakes:

Mistakes are sometimes inevitable, but for some people, that means total failure, especially when they’re on stage. Hence, they get nervous.

  • Unfamiliar roles:

It might be difficult to adjust fast for someone coming on stage for the first time.

Symptoms of Stage Fright 

Stage fright usually manifests as:

  • racing pulse and rapid breathing
  • a dry mouth and tight throat
  • anxiety
  • sweating
  • upset stomach
  • trembling (in your hands, knees, lips, and voice)
  • sweaty and cold hands
  • nausea

A woman experiencing stomach upset due to stage fright

11 Effective Tips to Overcome Stage Fright

Stage fright is scary but normal. But, if not well-managed, it can affect your composure and presentation. Check out these surefire tips to help you deal with stage fright effectively. 

Relax your body

Easing your body’s pressure can help ease your mind and steady your voice. Here are a few things you can do to relax your body before your performance:

  • Meditate:

Find a quiet place, close your eyes, and focus on taking deep breaths. This will help to clear your head and relax your mind.

  • Stretch:

Stretching is a great way to ease tension in your body. Stretch your back, shoulders, arms, and legs.

  • Exercise:

Exercise relaxes the muscles and releases endorphins (feel-good hormones). Make time for at least a 10-minute walk on the day of your performance. 

  • Chew gum:

Chewing gum will help to relieve tension in your jaw. Don’t do it on an empty stomach; it can upset your digestive system.

  • Stay away from caffeine:

Avoid caffeine at least 3 days before your performance. You may think it’ll keep you geared up and active, but it’ll only make you feel tired and nervous and worsen your stage fright.

Handsome Afro American couple doing yoga at home

Be well prepared

Imagine waking up in the morning, walking down the road, jumping into the first vehicle you see, and just going wherever it takes you. Crazy, right? That’s how it’d be if you don’t prepare adequately for a presentation

How can you prepare for a presentation?

  • Understand your task clearly. Make as much research as possible and get all your facts right. 
  • Outline your presentation: This will help, especially if you’re preparing to give a speech. Break your presentation into bits and identify the focal points. This will help you to stay organized and focused. 
  • Research your audience: Are you presenting to high-schoolers or Christian mothers? Knowing your audience will give you valuable insight into your approach.
  • Rehearse your presentation: You can practice in front of a mirror or with a group of friends. Your friends might not be the ideal audience, but they can give you helpful feedback that’ll help to finetune your performance.

Identify intrusive thoughts and give a positive clap-back

Anxiety-inducing thoughts like “What if I forget?” or “What if I stutter?” can make you lose confidence. You have to be mentally prepared, so repeatedly reassure yourself with positive words like: 

  • I am a fantastic speaker/musician/actor.
  • I do better under pressure.
  • My performance has a positive impact on the audience.
  • I am excellent at what I do.
  • Every time I get on stage, my confidence grows.
  • I am always in complete command of my thoughts and audience.
  • Even under pressure, I am great at keeping my composure.
  • I feel secure and at ease. Everything is under my control. 
  • I am beginning to enjoy the spotlight.
  • I am a master of my craft.
  • My worries and fears don’t define me.
  • I am human. It is normal to feel some worry before performing.

I’m a huge fan of affirmations. They’ll help to ease the mind into the task at hand.

Drowning dialogues. Shot of a young woman writing in her journal

Visualize the outcome

Before the presentation, take some time to visualize the “perfect” presentation. Imagine yourself with the right blend of confidence and poise. Imagine your audience giving you a standing ovation for an impeccable performance. 

It might seem insignificant, but imagination will help you prepare your mind for a seamless performance. When your mind is in the game, everything else will follow!

Remember to breathe

Before heading up to the stage, practice breathing exercises to calm your nerves, close your eyes and take long, deep breaths. Count to ten. That’ll help you clear your mind. Also, when you get on stage, smile at the audience. That’ll help you to start on a positive note. 

Pick a focal point 

You could pick a friendly face in the audience or an unimportant spot in the room to direct your nervous energy on. This helps to reduce the tension and awareness of having numerous eyes on you. 

Pro tip: Instead of looking directly at the audience’s faces, focus on the spot between their eyes. You can look into their eyes when you feel bolder and more composed and let your message hit home.  

Attractive woman working out

Release muscle tension 

As humans, we have a compulsion to tighten everything when we’re under tension — we clench our jaws, hunch our shoulders, and squeeze our hands. These actions restrict blood flow and can cause dizziness or lightheadedness. 

Try to release tension by going over these body parts consciously. Wherever you notice tension, loosen up by stretching your shoulders, shaking your hands, et cetera. Chewing bubble gum also helps to relieve the muscles.  

Imagine the worst

Reverse psychology? Yes, please! What could go wrong? What’s the worst that could happen? You’ve imagined the good part of how great your presentation might be but also imagine the worst. 

Imagining everything that could go wrong and embracing the possibility of failure can sometimes give you relief from anxious thoughts. Realizing the worst that could happen can also help you to find ways to improve and do the job better. You’re human, after all, and no one is above mistakes. 

Don’t show up late

Punctuality is the soul of business. Showing up late = more attention on you. More attention = anxiety. Anxiety = stage fright. 

I have a habit of being at the venue of a presentation at least 2 hours before. This gives me ample time to gauge my audience and visualize the “perfect” performance. Plus, I can practice my performance on stage. 

Happy cheerful business people posing in office hallway

Carry on if things go wrong 

Anything can happen at any time that you might have no control over. For instance, a glitch with the projector or a bad microphone. What should you do? Just carry on! 

Remember to take deep breaths and smile at the audience. You can even throw a joke or two about it and proceed with your presentation. Your audience would feel more at ease that way, boosting your confidence. 

Speak with a therapist

Working with a qualified counselor or therapist is always a good way to overcome stage fright. They’ll not only help you get to the root of your fear, but they’ll also help you find ways to tackle it. That’s what therapy is about — fostering your natural coping skills.

In therapy, you’ll focus on methods of relaxing your body and mind, confronting underlying issues that increase your performance anxiety, and practical steps towards achieving success. To get started with this effective approach, contact a professional at mytherapist.ng now!

Woman wearing virtual reality headset playing video games

Final Words on Overcoming Stage Fright

Stage fright is uncomfortable, but it’s normal and doesn’t have to control you. If stage fright proves especially difficult for you to handle or causes feelings of anxiety or depression, a mental health professional is just a click away

 

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