Stage fright is everyone’s demon for singing, speaking, and performing on stage.
Especially if you are an introvert like me, how do you overcome stage fight?
Countless talents, maybe you, remain buried in society, because they could not defeat this inner demon.
I still remember when I was attempting to sing solo for the first time in my life, I was so nervous the night before that I couldn’t sleep. And it was just 2 lines that I had to sing.
Overcoming stage fright is a challenge every singer and performer has to face and deal with. So in this article, I will share with you my experience on What to do with Stage Fright, and my 7 ways for you to defeat this inner demon.
What Causes Stage Fright?
I’ve been singing on stage for over 25 years, and I still have stage fright till this day.
Just what exactly is causing stage fright? Is it really that bad to have stage fright?
Let me tell you – every performer on stage, even world-class singers, has stage fright.
When I was studying vocal performance in college, my roommate told me that Frank Sinatra said, “The day you’re not nervous is the day you don’t care.“
I don’t know if Sinatra actually said that, but what my roommate said is absolutely true, and I say that from experience on stage.
Here are the 5 major causes of stage fright:
- You care about what you’re doing – Now, some may say negatively that “you’re nervous because you care too much about what other people think about you.” Well, that may be true, but I also know for a fact that you care about the quality of your performance – and that’s a very, very professional attitude. So, don’t worry about being nervous. It’s the most normal thing for any one going on stage.
- You care too much about what others think – This is leaning toward the unhealthy side. Caring about the quality of your performance is different from caring about what others think of you. Remember, you are not singing for the audience. Ultimately, you are singing for yourself or your own cause.
- You are not ready skill-wise – If you’re not trained or at least get some help before you get on stage, you’re NOT ready, and you will get really, really nervous.
- You have a negative self-image – It is possible for a very talented performer to have uncontrollable stage fright. Even when they are ready technically, they are not ready emotionally.
- You are sick physically or emotionally – When the performer is sick, they will definitely feel a lot more nervous than when they are healthy, since sickness is something we can’t controlled.
We’ve identified these five major causes of stage fright. Which category do you fall into?
Now let’s look at the 7 ways to cure stage fright.
The 7 Major Ways to manage Stage Fright
You might hate having stage fright, because it might inhibit your talents.
However, maintaining some level of nervousness can actually keep you on edge and help you perform better.
Having it fully under control and use it to your advantage are something all performers could learn how to do.
Here are the 7 great ways to manage stage fright:
- Eat regularly and healthy – When we are nervous, it could change our appetite. Try to eat like you do in your daily life. You can also treat yourself to better meals just to make yourself feel good physically and emotionally. Do not starve yourself. When the body is weak, it will affect your emotions in a negative way.
- Get plenty of sleep – You will lose some sleep as you get closer to your performance. Start sleeping more a week or two before the performance, when the nerves haven’t quite kicked in yet. Just like what my piano accompanist in college said, “Treat yourself like a baby.”
- Exercise without maxing out – Unless you are performing as an athlete, do not over-exercise. I made this mistake early on and it made me tired on the day of performance. The point of exercise is to relieve stress and maintain optimal physical condition.
- Fully prepare for your performance – You need to practice the materials you are presenting on stage as much as you can, until you know it at the back of your head. The more you know it, the less you will be nervous. Not knowing your materials will contribute to your nervousness.
- Productive meditation – This is part of the preparation I find extremely helpful. Instead of letting your mind wander when you are walking, driving, or waiting for the bus, purposely go over your materials in your mind from beginning to end. Control your mind and make it think about what you want to think.
- Time off – After you started intensely the preparation, don’t forget to take some time off. Watch a movie, read a book, get a massage, etc. Anything to get your mind off temporarily. Remind yourself this is not the end of the world.
- Focus on what you’re doing, not people – When you focus on what you are supposed to do on stage, you will be less nervous. Worrying about how you look in front of people is different than correctly executing your performance.
The Benefits of Stage Fright
Every performer has to manage their stage fright. Not even the greatest singers in the world could escape it.
Listen to what Luciano Pavarotti has to say about stage fright, “You cry, you think, why am I putting myself through this, why did I choose this profession? But then you hear your voice, your confidence comes back…” (http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/2007/09/pavarotti2.htm)
Hollywood legend Barbra Streisand is famous for opening admitting that she has stage fright and her constant battle with it. It is known that she has not been performing as frequently as expected because of stage fright.
If the greatest performers in the world have stage fright, would it be any wonder that you have stage fright as well?
The fact is that Stage Fright, if managed well, can be used to your advantage. You would be performing at a higher level on stage because of stage fright.
1. Stage fright could give you intense focus.
2. Stage fright could bring out the performer side of you that you don’t see in real life.
3. Stage fright could bring out your full potential on stage.
4. Stage fright forces you to fully prepare and train beforehand.
Whether you are a singer or instrumentalist battling with stage fright, I would encourage you to get solid training while you can, because the more training and preparation you have until the day you go on stage, the less nervous you will be.
In this digital age, there are so many online programs that would be of great benefits to your training. If you are a singer looking to get complete training, Robert Lunte has a very well-rounded and high-quality online course that I recommend. See my review here.
I think the most effective way to battle stage fright is solid training. It is better than any psychological techniques you use, because when you are well-trained, the skills stay with you wherever you go.
If you have any question concerning how to deal with stage fright, comment below. I’ll be more than happy to discuss with you.