Up with People cast members have performed in thousands of shows for hundreds of thousands of people over the last 50+ years. Many of our participants experience stage fright before stepping out in front of large audiences. In fact, public speaking is the #1 fear of most human beings!
Those affected by stage fright experience dry mouth, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, trembling hands and nausea. If you dread the thought of getting up in front of a group of people and performing, you are not alone. Most people would rather get the flu than perform or speak in public.
Performance anxiety can also negatively affect your self-esteem and self-confidence. Fortunately there are many things you can do to control your emotions and reduce performance anxiety. The following tips help our cast members get out there and perform every week all over the world for large crowds and important audience members (like Pope Francis). Put them into practice and these tips can help you handle your own stage fright.
LIMIT CAFFEINE AND SUGAR
The day of the performance eat sensible meals and limit your caffeine and sugar intake. Both of these things can increase and amplify anxiety.
VISUALIZE YOUR SUCCESS
Focus on the entertainment and enjoyment you are providing the audience. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and visualize the audience laughing, clapping and cheering. Never focus on what could go wrong. Visualize your success.
Each semester Up with People cast members participate in something we call staging in Denver, CO before heading out on tour. Staging is the time when the show comes together and our cast members practice, practice, practice. Nothing leads to stage fright more than the fear of forgetting lyrics or being unsure of your skills. If you are prepared then you have no reason to be fearful.
The body clenches and tightens when you are nervous. Take fifteen minutes before you get in front of people to stretch and move your body. This will help you relax emotionally.
DON’T FIGHT IT
Even with the best advice and pre-show rituals you will still experience nerves. Don’t fight it. Just breathe, accept it, and you will relax even more. If you fight your anxiety, chances are that it will get worse.
Taking deep breaths with eyes closed is a powerful tool in the fight against stage fright. Simply take 3 deep breaths to start and your body will calm down. In fact, numerous studies have proven that even just 1 session of deep breathing can significantly reduce anxiety. The feelings associated with stage fright are usually the strongest during the lead-up to the performance rather than during it, so take a minute to breath before heading out on stage.
FOCUS ON THE MATERIAL
The content of your performance is a powerful thing. Music or speeches have the ability to change the world. Many who experience stage fright have a negative inner critic that never stops. You don’t know what you’re doing. Your voice is not that good. The audience will hate me. This happens to most of us so be aware of that inner critic and turn your attention instead to the message you are about to bring to the crowd. You are about to teach them something amazing. They showed up to learn and be entertained. Concentrate on your content above all else, and you’ll avoid getting trapped in a negative state of mind.
MAKE CONNECTIONS IN THE AUDIENCE
Once on stage find friendly faces in the crowd and focus on those positive connections. Think of those people as your friend rather than your enemy.
WALLOW IN THE WORST
If you can’t calm down before the show then allow yourself to imagine worst case scenarios. Will you die? No. Allowing yourself to imagine the worst will often become comical and calm your nerves.
CREATE YOUR OWN HAPPY RITUAL
Listen to your favorite music, call your best friend, do some yoga, go for a run. Do whatever it is that brings you to a truly happy and calm place. This can center you before the performance and prepare you for calm and confidence.