Standing up on stage in front of a bunch of people is something that some people fear worse than death. Although I’m experienced at giving talks and science shows I still suffer with stage fright. A deep sense of overwhelming fear and panic can overcome me weeks and sometimes even months before a gig. Fear is something that will always show up in our lives and many famous people suffer from stage fright, so if you suffer too, know that you’re not alone. But what I’ve learnt is that we don’t need to let it control us. Over many events I’ve slowly managed to learn how to face my fears, show up and most of all, not let it get in the way of giving my all. Here’s a list of tools and strategies that I use, I hope that some of them will help you too:
Mindset Shift – Repeat a positive phrase out loud or in your mind over and over when you feel the fear. It temporarily tricks your mind and gives relief. After all, what you think has a strong impact on how you feel.
Everything is Temporary – Remind yourself that every moment will pass. At the time I thought it would never end, now I’m sitting with a tea writing this.
Avoid Comparisons – Try and remove all comparisons to other people. The only important thing is your own growth and experience.
Growth Mindset – Understand that you don’t need to be the best right now, maybe you can’t simply because you don’t have enough experience and that’s totally okay. Just focus on growing from where you are. Don’t waste your energy on being annoyed at yourself because someone else who has 10 year’s experience is better than you, in fact, see it as inspiration!
Facing fears is liberating – The other side of fear is a feeling of liberation. If you can do one scary thing, you can do more, and continue to grow to be the best you. Honestly it’s an incredible feeling, you may feel terrified beforehand but afterwards you will feel strong and realise what you’re made of.
Visualise your fear as an annoying little monster – Okay, this might be a strange one, but I visualise my fear as this teeny little annoying monster that’s constantly trying to stop me from having fun. Have you seen the animated film Inside Out? Basically the same as that film. This helps to remind you that fear is only a small element of who you are. The monster is here for the ride, you can’t get rid of it, but you can choose whether or not it’s going to be the dominating character. So say hi to it, allow it to be there, but tell it “you can sit in the backseat of the car mate but you’re definitely not driving”.
Start small – My first scary thing that set me on this path was showing up to a beginners acting class 6 years ago. When I look back I think it was silly how scared I was, but it’s all baby steps!
Relax – Mindfulness, yoga, walking in nature and eating healthy really does help. In times when I’m overcome with anxiety I never think doing these things actually help, because I still feel levels of anxiety bubbling underneath. With hindsight though I always know that if I hadn’t kept these things up every day, I would have been feeling way worse.
Take a moment before going on stage – every time I go on stage I take a moment to breathe and focus on the feeling in my feet to ground myself. My old acting teacher taught me this one and it’s helped every time!
Prepare – I can never say this enough but preparation and practice (to an audience even if just your family) is vital. Also practice without the slides in case the laptop breaks! Or with some annoying music on in the background. If you find ways to throw yourself off guard this will help you to manage unknown situations that may crop up. Again this will help with confidence.
Treat yourself! – Surround yourself with people you love and treat yourself to yummy food and all the things that make you feel safe and secure. Be kind to yourself, you deserve it!
So that’s my list to help with stage fright.
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