Overcoming Stage Fright
(Or, how to be better than the Black Eyed Peas)
Forget “just be yourself”. What kind of advice is that? We’ve got five real, proven cures for stage fright along with some examples of the big names bombing it hard. The last thing you want to have happen is to get on stage for your first or biggest show only to earn the top YouTube result for “chokes on stage”. Or to discover that auto-tune equipment doesn’t work so well on large arenas.
#5: Practice under pressure.
Hey! Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world? No matter how well you’ve memorized or rehearsed your performance, you can draw a blank if you’re not accustomed to performing under less than ideal circumstances. Practice in public, while jogging, without music, at a karaoke bar, or anywhere you can start becoming more comfortable with uncertainty.
Practice in front of a mirror or better yet, get your rehearsals on camera so you can identify the rough edges of your performance from a third-person perspective. Nothing gives confidence like knowing how you really look to other people. Sorry, rap artist Mystikal, but you should have done multiple takes before releasing your music video.
#3: Take Propranolol.
Yes I said it. Take drugs. But take the ones prescribed by your doctor for anxiety, like Propranolol. Not whatever Amy Winehouse took that got her booed off stage in Belgrade. Many of the most experienced artists, like Meatloaf, use an assortment of lozenges, tonics, and legally prescribed medication to get over their stage fright.
#2: Relax the nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system in the body causes many of the physical symptoms of stage fright that can cause you to freeze up. To loosen up, take deep breaths while releasing your visual focus. The “fight or flight” response can be lessened on stage by focusing on just one person. If you think it will look odd, focus on one person for a moment and then find a different focal point. This video is the best example of the physical effects of stage fright.
#1: Power through the first five.
It’s mainly the mental fear of embarassment that triggers the buildup of stage fright, so focus on getting the first part knocked out of the park. Here’s a good example of powering through the first five minutes, Justin Bieber vomiting on stage.