When you’re waiting in the wings, about to go on stage, or when the announcer is about to call your name, you feel nervous. What are you feeling in that moment? If you’re anything like me, you’d be feeling a bit of stage fright.
Public speaking is often ranked in the top 3 fears for people and, counter to what you might think, talent and experience don’t automatically rid you of stage fright!
Professional, seasoned singers like Adele and Andrea Bocelli have been open about their experience with stage fright and continue to find ways to cope with it throughout their careers. So, how do you deal with stage fright?
The bottom line is to find what works for you! There’s no single “trick” that will instantly ease your stage fright. But, as with anything, there are tools, practices, and changes to your mindset that can be helpful.
Stage fright is a natural response of your body and yes, there are some of us who struggle more than others. My hope for you is that stage fright would not hold you back from doing something you love! If you love to sing and desire to share your voice with others, then it is a worthy cause to address your stage fright!
TIP #1: Prepare
The best antidote to stage fright, is preparation. Rehearse until you can sing/play that song in your sleep. If nerves do happen to demand more of your attention on the day of your performance, you want to know that you can rely on your muscle memory.
TIP #2: Remember to Breathe
When we get nervous, our breathing becomes quick and shallow. And based on what we know about singing or playing an instrument, do we ever want quick, shallow breaths? No! Be mindful of this tendency before and during your performance. Return to the low, relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing you’ve practiced. This kind of breathing is not only necessary for healthy singing and support but it also calms your body.
TIP #3: Trust your Technique
This is why we practice – We are training our muscles and coordination for our performance. Even the physical act of getting into your singing posture can help to relax you. When nervous energy is thrown into the mix, technique is even more important.
Tip #4: Develop a Routine
We are creatures of habit, and we tend to find comfort in routines. Consider developing a pre-performance routine that prepares your body, voice, and mind. It could include exercise, a vocal warm-up, meditation, eating a healthy meal, deep breathing, or all of the above!
Tip #5: Focus on the Goal
Instead of dwelling on your fears and thoughts of what could go wrong, discipline yourself to instead think about what you look forward to with your performance or what you intend to work on. Simplify your focus to one or two small, achievable goals. A flawless performance doesn’t exist, so cross that off your list! Instead, your goals could be connecting with the audience, telling the story in a true, honest way or staying connected to your breath awareness. You decide your goal and focus on that!
Tip #6: Get into CHARACTER
When I’m about to perform and am still feeling a lot of nervous energy, I focus completely on the lyrics and the story. I connect emotionally to my character. Place yourself in the song and make your primary goal telling a true story. The best, most impactful performances are emotionally grounded and authentic. At the end of the day, our goal isn’t to execute a technically flawless performance: it’s to share ourselves and the beauty of music with our audience.