7 Tips to Overcome Stage Fright

Change Your Attitude and Practice Habits

I can’t remember a time when I was afraid to perform in front of a group. Why? It’s a combination of experience and attitude. I’ve used the below thoughts to help many overcome seriously debilitating fears, and not only in the world of music. I hope these suggestions will help you.

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Worst Thing That Could Happen:

Spotlight on stage curtains, audience applauding in foreground
Ryan McVay/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Imagine the worst plausible thing that could happen to you as you perform. You could forget your words and stand there looking dumb. Come in too early or late. Embarrass yourself and fail. The audience could walk out on you or throw food. If paid, you could lose your job. Now think about starving children in Africa or Auschwitz. Perspective! You are not being tortured or held against your will. Your worst fear is not all that bad! You’re taking a risk, but not nearly as big a risk as an army soldier takes in war. It is much easier to be fearless with the right outlook on life. Even if you lose a job, you found the first one and you will likely find another one. It could even be a better one.

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Every singer has a unique voice that can be developed into a talent that no one else has. Image courtesy of bitesizeinspiration via flickr cc license

You don’t have to stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and tell yourself unreasonably positive characteristics you possess. Even I find that kind of weird and it might just make you an overly-confident diva that no one wants to work with. But, to tell yourself something over and over even when you don’t believe it, allows space for it to become reality. The key is to figure out what you want to change and become. Then make your affirmations specific to you. When trying to overcome anxiety, take a minute to find the source of your fear and incorporate it into your affirmations. For instance if you are afraid of what others think, you might repeat or think the words, “I accept that I cannot please everyone and will allow those who do not believe in my singing to have their opinions,” or, “When someone is negative about my singing, I will remind myself that I am a work in progress and they may just be trying to help.”

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Sometimes it takes creativity to get a good workout. If this guy can do it, then so can you. Image courtesy of mikebaird via flickr cc license

Not only does working out give you a healthier instrument to sing with, it actually helps you overcome stage fright. For starters, when you work out it releases endorphins. That sets your body up to think more positively about your upcoming performances. In addition according to the mayo clinic, working out helps you deal with stress, improves your self-confidence, and can help you sleep better at night. All benefits that will help you overcome your fear of performing.

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Focus on Providing a Service:

Give something to your audience. Image courtesy of Mr. Kris via flickr cc license

You might have heard of the concept of losing your life to find it? It sounds odd, but it works in a performance situation. Self-absorption is detrimental to a singer. Rather than thinking about what others think about you, focus on your message. What do you want people to gain from your songs? Sometimes it is as simple as wanting to bring people joy, or wanting them to know they are not the only ones suffering or angry. Entertaining is not about you! When you take yourself out of the picture, then you won’t be afraid of what others think or whether you will make mistakes.

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Practice Your Music:

Sheet Music for "How I Loved Him" from the musical "Carousel.". Image courtesy of amoraleda via flickr cc license

When you are prepared, it is much less likely you will be afraid of failure. Practice your music so it is as perfect as you can get it. Imagine a large audience listening to you and sing some more. If possible, rehearse in the space you will be performing in. Singing calmly in that location makes it more likely you will later perform there with confidence. For some people, it may take five repetitions to get a song down and for others it might take a hundred. You will want to take as much time as needed to feel you have your music learned and ready to perform.

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Practice Performing:

Give your all every time you perform. Image courtesy of Leahtwosaints via Wikimedia commons

As a beginner, you should find as many appropriate opportunities to sing in front of people as possible. Beginners are allowed to make mistakes and typically your audience consists of mostly friends, family, and acquaintances that are easier to sing to. As you progress, the risk of stage fright becomes more and more likely. Your audiences diversify, maybe professors or critics are listening to you sing. Then when people begin to pay to hear you, they naturally expect more of you. That’s more pressure on you. Since your entertaining skills will increase with each performance, finding lots of opportunities to sing as a beginner is vital. You may think it is hard to find opportunities, but it is as easy as singing karaoke or asking a few friends to listen to you.

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See Yourself Succeeding:

Now that you’ve placed the worst that could happen in its place, envision what could happen when you reach your fullest potential. No one would consider building a cathedral without hiring an architect to first design it. When you take the time to visualize an outstanding performance, you are creating the blueprints for your vocal success. When I imagine myself at my best, I run through my song mentally and hear myself singing it technically correct and with beauty and power. I see the audience enthralled by my emotional investment. When you can do that, it is much more likely to happen in real life.