It’s OK to admit it. Sometimes we all get a little freaked out about performing in front of people. I guess you could say it’s just part of the gig.
Stage fright is much more common among performers than you might think. Barbra Streisand has such intense stage fright that her entire choreography is built around items she can hold on to as a coping mechanism; a railing, a chair, the cord of the mic, a hand to hold. Even through years of improvement, she rarely performs without a darkened theater, props close by or medication to help.
Amy Grant also suffers from extreme stage fright. From a young age, Amy started performing barefooted as a way to stay grounded and avoid feeling dizzy on stage.
Luckily that level of stage fright is less common than the nerves most of us feel. So if Babs can do it – so can we! Here are a few things that’ll take the edge off your stage fright:
Getting on stage without careful preparation is like choosing to swim in shark infested waters….
Seriously, why would you put yourself in a position to be torn to shreds?
Not completely preparing to perform is no less stupid. Invest the time in developing your vocal technique and styling with a good coach, get familiar with the genre and songs you want or need to perform and get some good instruction on what to do once you’re up there.
Knowing what you’re going to do and that you can actually DO it is more than half the battle when it comes to great performances.
Get Good at Making Mistakes
But….but…..good singers don’t make mistakes….right? Wrong.
GOOD singers are GREAT at making mistakes. SO great that you rarely even notice they’re making them. Plan ahead for all the mistakes you’ve made in the past or those you’ve seen others make and then make a plan for how you’ll recover. This simple step alone has kept very talented people from throwing in the towel altogether after a night of mishaps.
Get the Focus Off of Yourself
Not only is focusing on your audience instead of yourself good for distracting your brain from being focused on your nerves (which makes things worse); it’s also what you’re there to do!
You wouldn’t be asked to be on stage unless you were there to give something to your audience. Think about your song(s) and the kind of music you do. Is the goal to help them have a good time? Make them laugh? Rock? Cry with you on your sad, sad ballad?
Pick one face and pretend they’re your new best friend. When you see someone looking at you, look right back and connect with them. Look for it. Don’t hide from it.
When you put the focus on what you’re doing for your audience your brain won’t have nearly as much time to get hyper hooked on why the edge of your lip is quivering or if you really do look stupid in that outfit. Instead, you’ll be thinking, “Yay! I made that kid smile and that’s just what I wanted to do.”
You owe it to the people who take the time to listen to you to give them your attention. Do that and you may just forget about the things that freak you out on stage. And that beats ‘visualization’, ‘focus points’ and medication every time.
Get On Stage
Find every opportunity to build your comfort level in front of an audience. Don’t wait for that special night to highlight your unique talent. Take anything that you can do that involves a stage; community theater, singing backup in a friends’ band. Just get on stage.
Part of getting comfortable on stage is just having done it so many times that it becomes familiar. After a while a stage is just a stage. But take a long break and it might just become unbearable all over again. Don’t let that happen. Make it a habit to get in front of people whenever you can and you’ll find the nerves get smaller every time.…or at least every other time.
The more you follow these steps, the more you’ll find you enjoy being on stage. And the more you enjoy performing the more you can give your audience.
Share your thoughts about stage fright below!