March 4, 2016

Don’t let Fear Keep You Off the Stage

Tess Pulver

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Many people believe incorrectly that stage fright only afflicts performers. However, this is not true. Stage fright can hit you any time you need to be in front of an audience. For example, suppose you were asked to speak to a room full of conference attendees regarding something in your field. If this is your first time speaking to colleagues or an audience, you might be afraid to take the podium. Suppose you have just landed a presentation meeting for a potential client’s board of directors, and you have to show why the client should choose your product over your competitors. You might be getting sweaty palms just thinking about it. Maybe, you are asked to lead a hike for young campers, giving them the information they need about flora and fauna. You could be nervous before you hit the trail. These are all ways you can experience stage fright even though you aren’t a performer.

What Can You Do About Stage Fright?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, stage fright that leads to near panic by the person is known as social anxiety disorder or social phobia. Stage fright causes low self-esteem and breaks self-confidence in people. ADAA says you can employ a number of tricks to help you relax and get on that stage.

  1. Don’t think about yourself. Instead, think about your true purpose of contributing something of value to your audience.
  2. Think about something relaxing. If you ask a performer how he or she prepares for a gig, he or she might say they visualize cheers and audience happiness. Search for the ways to visualize a happy place, somewhere that is relaxing to you.
  3. Remember why you were asked to speak. You are the expert. That is why people are coming to hear you. Your expertise could be in your product, in your knowledge of the outdoors or in your field. Others want to hear what you have to save. Don’t let yourself give into self-doubt.
  4. Do calming exercises. Many people will do yoga exercises, breathe deep or meditate to relax themselves.
  5. Be healthy. You don’t want to be up all night before a performance or speaking engagement. You need to exercise, eat well and get plenty of rest. You also want to reduce your intake of caffeine-filled products, sugar-laced foods and alcohol. Herbal teas have a calming effect on your psychic, and coffee might keep you awake when you need to sleep.
  6. Think about your success. Tell your brain you meet your challenges and are successful with them. Think about the audience clapping and cheering. See it in your mind.
  7. Practice. You want to practice your performance by reading aloud. But, don’t forget to practice your visuals too. Often, speeches and performances falter because of technology not because of you. Make sure everything is working as it should.
  8. Meet your audience. Talk to people before the performance and make them friends. You also can focus on a few people during your performance who are friendly and paying attention to you. This will help you narrow down the big crowd to one or two people.
  9. Be confident. Even if you have jelly in your stomach, don’t show it. Be confident in your posture while sitting or standing. Let others see that you know what you are doing.
  10. Mistakes happen. Laugh when things go wrong. Let yourself be human on stage. If mistakes happen, believe that it’s OK. Be natural, be yourself.

Singing and Stage Fright

At Breakthrough Performance Workshop, you learn a number of these techniques. When you take the eight-week course, you use singing to break through your fears that hold you back in life. Singing is a great release of anxiety because it calms you and sends endorphins into your system. At the end of the course, participants have to appear on stage to perform a song. Because many participants in the class have never performed on stage before this, you learn to do deep breathing relaxation, learn to be human and accept mistakes, learn to visualize success and a cheering audience, and learn to be confident. While you might be afraid to perform your song, you are confident in your expertise to do it, so you do. When you are on stage, you will not be afraid to be there or of the audience. You will be joyful and let your true spirit come through you. After the performance, you will have confidence in other performances of your life whether in a sales presentation, on a hike or in a industry conference.

 

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