13 Tips To Overcome Stage Fright

Updated November 21, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Stage fright is a common issue. It can happen when we start to get nervous at the idea of being in front of an audience. It may strike  when we need to give a speech or presentation or perform for others. 

In most cases, stage fright is mild and diminishes in response to simple self-help strategies. For some, however, the fear can lead to severe panic or anxiety. No matter how stage fright affects someone, there are things people  can try to make it less terrifying.

  1. 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 the experience.

For example, if you are speaking about an important issue, try not to 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? 

Make these factors greater than your fear by acknowledging your important role in the grand scheme of things.

  1. Prepare

Preparation is key to embodying 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 be as ready as you can be. Avoid procrastination, as feeling incompetent and extremely unprepared can increase feelings of nervousness.

If you are speaking to the public, rehearse your speech often. Memorize your lines, plan out your pauses and breaths, and practice making eye contact with your audience. If you are dancing, acting, or playing music, dedicate sufficient time to training. The more you are comfortable with what you are presenting to someone else, the less you may  worry.

  1. Practice

Practicing daily can  give you an idea of the parts of your presentation you feel comfortable with and those you don't. It can  help the material become second nature and allow  you react to any mistakes before watchful eyes are on you. If you spot parts of your presentation that are challenging, 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 a mock exhibition for friends or family. In this situation, you can control how many people are watching you, but you still benefit of being in front of a group. Ask for feedback from your audience to improve  your presentation. Repeat the exercise as often as necessary until you are comfortable.

  1. Talk Yourself Up

Examine 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 to do this?" Negative self-talk can orient you straight on the road to doubt, anger, and fear. The worse thoughts and feelings you attach to being in the spotlight, the more challenging and more frightening it can seem to get in front of people.

Instead of talking down to yourself, try to use uplifting self-talk. Rather than thinking, "I'm going to fail," reframe your thoughts into something like, "I am brave for trying this." It will take much work to check your inner judgments constantly, but the more negative talkyou can reframe in a positive way, the faster you may be able to conquer your fear.

  1. Be Realistic

When it comes to your moment, accept that 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. Try  not to create unreasonable pressure on yourself by thinking you are the only one who has to be perfect starting the moment you take the  stage.

  1. 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 pacing and tone they use while talking.

Adopt some of their mannerisms if it helps you feel more confident, but be careful. If their style is wildly outside your own, you may not come off as genuine. Rather than copying your role model directly, look to them for inspiration.

  1. Keep Learning

There are many resources to take advantage of when it comes to overcoming stage fright. You can go online or to the library to find necessary information. 

Keep in mind that you can also get help with broad areas of concern. For example, if you do not think you speak well enough, consult with a speech therapist to practice your diction. Suppose you doubt your ability to put together a message that will stand out to others. In this case, you might think about taking a writing class. No matter where your insecurity lies, there is likely someone out there who can help. Look for a professional who specializes in the skills you seek  to improve.

  1. Make The Environment Work For You

Try  not be afraid to make accommodations in your environment to increase your comfort levels. If you prefer to speak to your audience while holding notes or need to rely on PowerPoint or other technology, do so. Even minor 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 help you make it a positive experience.

  1. Calm Yourself

Go-to calming strategies like meditation and deep breathing can reduce anxiety related to stage fright, both in the moment and in the days or weeks before. There are many types of meditation including mindfulness, zen, and loving- kindness meditation (just to name a few).Each can 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.

  1. Have A Healthy Mind And Body

Strive to eat a balanced diet and exercise often. It is essential to take care of your mind too. Take a step back from feeling afraid or overwhelmed and  practice self-care as the date with your audience approaches. Journal, visit the spa, or go for a long walk outside to help clear your mind. Stick with a strategy you enjoy and one you will actually do.

  1. Sleep

A good night's sleep before your event can  make a difference in your overall feelings on the big day. Lack of sleep contributes  not only to  fatigue but also 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 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 induce quick sleep. Daily exercise, a consistent bedtime routine, and a no "phone in bed" rule are good strategies to try in the weeks before getting on stage.

  1. Stay Away From Certain Substances

Try to avoid substances like coffee, caffeinated tea, alcohol, and drugs before your main event. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase anxiety. As calming as alcohol or drugs can feel  in the moment, long-term use can have the same effect.

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.

  1. Speak With A Therapist

Working with a licensed counselor is always a useful tip for overcoming stage fright. Not only can  they help you get to the root of your fear, but they can also help  you wield the tools to conquer it. 

In the therapy environment, you might focus on techniques to help you stay calm, confront underlying issues that increase your fear, and take steps toward visualizing and achieving success. Online cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, has proven effective in treating symptoms of anxiety that manifest in stage fright. Researchers learned that study participants experienced significant reduction in their symptoms over time.

Online therapy is additionally helpful for busy professionals. If you’re always on the go, presenting at various conferences or leading trainings from region to region, you can schedule a session during a layover at the airport. It’s that convenient.

Stage fright is uncomfortable, but it does not have to control you. There are many ways to deal with your feelings. If stage fright is especially challenging for you by interfering with your daily life, or if it causes everyday 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.

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