13 Tips To Overcome Stage Fright
Updated December 19, 2018
Reviewer Avia James
Stage fright is a common issue. It happens to us anytime we start to get nervous at the idea of being in front of an audience. It usually hits when we need to give a speech or presentation, or when we perform for others. In most cases, stage fright is mild and responds well to simple self-help strategies. However, for some, the fear leads to severe panic or anxiety. No matter how stage fright affects you, there are some things you can do to make it less terrifying. Try these 13 tips to overcome it before your next big event.
- Shift Your Perspective
Sometimes, we can make an issue even more frightening than it already is by focusing on what we do not like about it. Although it is scary to get in front of a crowd, shift your attention from what you are afraid of, to what you or someone else will gain from experience.
For example, if you are speaking about an important issue, do not think about all the eyes watching you. Instead, consider the potential outcome your speech may have. Will it save money? Teach someone vital information? Could it potentially save lives? There is a reason you are being thrust into the spotlight. Make these factors greater than your fear by acknowledging the important role you play in the grand scheme of things.
Preparation is the key to confidence. The more confidence you have, the less room there is for fear. This is why being ready for your moment matters. Take advantage of all the preparation time you are given. If you are lucky, you will have weeks or months to conquer definition and perfection. Do not procrastinate until the final moments, no matter what.
If you are speaking to the public, go over your words often. Memorize your lines, plan out your pauses and breaths, and practice making contact with your audience. If you are dancing, acting, or playing music be sure you have spent enough time training. The more you are comfortable with what you are presenting to someone else, the less you will worry.
Practicing daily will give you an idea of the parts of your presentation you feel comfortable with and those you don't. It will help the material become second nature and will let you react to any mistakes before watchful eyes are on you. If you do spot parts of your presentation that are challenging for you, do not be afraid to reach out to someone like a mentor, teacher, or friend for help.
A fun way to practice and overcome stage fright is by hosting a mock-exhibition for a group of friends or family members. In this situation, you can control how many people are watching you, but you still get the benefit of being in front of a group. Ask for feedback from your audience to better your presentation. Repeat the exercise as often as necessary until you are comfortable.
- Talk Yourself Up
Look at the way your stage fright is causing you to talk to yourself. Do you find yourself saying things like "I will never get this" or "I'm not smart enough (or brave enough) to do this?" Negative self-talk placesyou straight on the road to doubt, anger, and fear. The more bad thoughts and feelings you attach to being in the spotlight the harder and more frightening it will seem.
Instead of talking down to yourself, make your inner voice uplifting. Rather than thinking, "I'm going to fail," reframe your thoughts into something like, "I am brave for trying this." It will take a lot of work to check your inner judgments constantly. But, the more negatives you can change into positives, the faster you will conquer your fear.
- Be Realistic
When it comes to your moment, accept there will be good parts and probably not so great parts, and both are okay. A few shaky seconds in front of the crowd do not mean you or your message will be forgotten or laughed at. The person who addresses the crowd right before you, will have their challenges, just as the person after you will. Do not create an unreasonable amount of pressure on yourself by thinking you are the only one who has to be perfect the moment you get on stage.
- Pick A Role Model
Is there a political figure or celebrity whose public speaking style you connect with? Or, a famous performer whose stage presence leaves you in awe? If you are having trouble presenting yourself confidently, study them. Look at their style of speech and how they carry their bodies when all eyes are on them. Watch how they interact with the crowd, where their eyes look, and the type of pacing and tone they use while they talk.
Adopt some of their mannerisms if it helps you feel more confident but, be careful. If their style is wildly outside of your own, you will not come off as genuine. Rather than copying your role model directly, look to them for inspiration.
- Keep Learning
There are a lot of resources to take advantage of when it comes to overcoming stage fright. You can go online or to the library to find all the information you need. Many local colleges and private acting or theatre groups offer training in public speaking or stage presentation too.
Keep in mind; you can get help with broad areas of concern as well. For example, if you do not think you speak well enough, consult with a speech therapist to practice your diction. If you doubt your ability to put together a message that will stand out to others, think about taking a writing class. No matter where your insecurity lies, there is someone out there who can help. Just look for a professional who specializes in the type of skills you want to improve.
- Make The Environment Work For You
Do not be afraid to make accommodations in your environment to make you feel more comfortable. If you prefer to speak to your audience while holding notes or need to rely on PowerPoint or other technology, do so. Even small issues like wanting to sit, the type of microphone you use, or whether you have a glass of water nearby matter, so ask. In most cases, the people in charge of making your event run smoothly will be happy to discuss what they can do to helpyou in making it a positive experience.
- Calm Yourself
Go-to calming strategies like meditation and deep breathing can reduce stage fright, both in the moment and in the days or weeks before. There are many types of meditation including Mindfulness meditation, Zen meditation, and Loving- Kindness meditation (just to name a few) and each will help you focus your thoughts and ground yourself in different ways. When it comes to deep breathing exercises, there are countless varieties. Some can even be done with the help of a smartphone app. Speak with a licensed mental health professional to see which calming technique will work best for you based on your needs and situation.
- Have A Healthy Mind And Body
In general, the healthier you are, the better you can handle fear and anxiety. Always remember to eat right and exercise often. Remember, caring for yourself is not just about how you treat your body, you need to take care of your mind too. Take a step back from the edge of fear to practice self-care as the date with your audience approaches. Journal, visit the spa or go for a long walk outside to help you clear your mind. Stick with a strategy you enjoy and one you will do.
A good night's sleep before your event will make a huge difference in your overall feelings on the big day. Lack of sleep results not only in fatigue, but also in stress, poor concentration, and anxiety. Unfortunately, when it comes to a nerve-wracking event, it can be difficult to get some shut-eye the night before it takes place. If you find that you cannot turn off your mind due to thoughts of stage fright, try some common sleep-inducing techniques.
A warm shower before bed, lavender scents, and progressive relaxation have all been proven helpful to fall asleep fast. Daily exercise, a consistent bedtime routine, and a no "phone in bed" rule are also good strategies to try in the weeks before getting on stage too.
- Stay Away From…
Avoid substances like coffee, caffeinated tea, alcohol, and drugs before your main event. Caffeine is a stimulant and can increase feelings of anxiety, and as calming as alcohol or drugs can be in the moment, long-term use can do the same.
That being said, some anti-anxiety medications specifically control symptoms of fear in certain situations. But before you reach for them, ask your doctor how medication might affect you during a public event. Side effects like fatigue or a headache will make speaking to your audience harder.
- Speak With A Therapist
Working with a licensed counselor is always a good tip when it comes to overcoming stage fright. Not only will they help you get to the root of your fear, but they will also give you the tools to conquer it. In the therapy environment, you will focus on techniques to help you stay calm, confront underlying issues that increase your fear, and take steps toward visualizing and achieving success. To get started with this healing approach, speak with a professional at Betterhelp today.
Stage fright is uncomfortable, but it does not have to control you. There are many ways to deal with your feelings. If stage fright proves especially challenging for you by interfering with your daily life, or if it causes feelings of anxiety or depression, a licensed mental health professional is just one call or click away. Do not let fear control you. Build your confidence so your audience can hear you loud and clear.