10 Ways To Conquer Stage Fright
So my impending theatrical debut (unless you count my turn as Hermia in an A Level performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream…) has highlighted my absolute fear of… well, doing almost anything in front of an audience.
Social Anxiety aside I genuinely used to love pratting about on a stage and entertaining people, otherwise why would I have studied Drama and Theatre Studies!? But the run up? It makes me feel physically sick. Much like I do before a job interview. Or a presentation. Or that time I had to do the pre-recorded message for my work’s phone line.
Anything that involves talking to a group of people fills me with terror, even people I know well – family charades is my actual version of hell on earth. Apparently this is because I view these experiences as threats rather than something to relish.
So what do I do?! I’ve committed myself to this performance now, so the bed is made and I must lie in it. Time to find a way to handle the nerves and get to the part where I enjoy myself I suppose.
According to my favourite source of information – the internet – these are the top 10 tips for overcoming Stage Fright
Know your lines, or your subject, inside out. The more confident you feel with the content the less you have to worry about getting them wrong – because if you do get them wrong you can work around it.
2. Think Positively
If you only focus on what can go wrong, you wont think about what can, and probably will, go right! The audience isn’t there to spot your mistakes, they’re there to be entertained or informed. Whether they know it or not, they are rooting for you to succeed.
3. Try to Relax
Meditation, and deep breathing can help your body move out of the fight or flight mode that surges of adrenaline put you into. And by deep breathing I mean diaphragmatic breathing – which I am working hard on. It’s the natural state of breathing that all mammals use when there is no sign of danger – humans mostly do it when we’re asleep – so managing to breath this way can help to calm the feeling of panic.
4. Get Some Exercise
Another way to combat the adrenaline is to use it – plus exercise is good for your endorphin levels, the happy hormones which leave you feeling calmer and more at ease.
5. Avoid Caffeine
Chances are you’ll be buzzing enough as it is, and caffeine is just going to make that sensation worse. Plus it will dehydrate you.
6. Find Something Funny
Similar to exercise, things that make you laugh trigger endorphins, and anything that amuses you is going to help take your mind off the nerves.
7. Don’t Fight The Anxiety
Expect to feel nervous – it’s perfectly normal! When you try to fight it it becomes all consuming. Use that nervous energy and ply it into your performance. Anxiety is a tricky beast, when you’re feeling worried the negative voices in your head tell you that you’re worried because you are at risk. Try to tell yourself that you are not in danger, that your anxiety is just discomfort instead, and let yourself float above it.
8. Visualise The Outcome
The perfect outcome – you rock your presentation, you make the audience laugh or cry… whatever the best result of your experience is. Get that idea in your head and use the positive feeling to reduce your nervousness.
9. Create a Worst Case Scenario
As a polar opposite, think about the worst thing that could happen! Are you going to die?! Probably not, lets face it. And chances are the worst case scenario wont happen, but if it does you’re now prepared!
10. Focus on Getting Through the First 5 Minutes
Imagine that your performance is only 5 minutes long. By that point you’ll be well into the swing of it, and hopefully the worst of the nerves will have passed. If you can get through those first 5 minutes then the rest will come naturally.
I also asked the mummy blogosphere for their best advice for getting over stage fright, and here’s what they had to say:
Hayley @ Devon Mama
Take a deep breath, practice your words as many times as possible before hand so that you’re not completely reliant on notes and if possible have a lectern or prop to hold on to. Holding something helps stop you from fidgeting and gives you another focus.
Hollie @ Thrifty Mum
When I was still singing, I was advised to sing straight to the clock at the back of the concert hall and ignore everything else!
Sophie @ Mama Mei
I’ve worked as an actor, dancer and presenter. I still get nervous but I’d say use your nerves and adrenaline to boost your performance. When I dance I act as if I’m Marilyn Monroe (in my head), and when I act I try to use mindfulness and listen to what’s going on rather than get caught up in my worries same goes for presenting is to prepare,relax, breathe, listen and be you
Do you have any tips for staving off stage fright or performance anxiety?! I’d love to hear them!