too afraid to take the stage

how to stop stage fright from holding you back

Posted: 10 September 2019

We’ve all had that dream: it’s the night of the big presentation, you walk on stage and the audience immediately starts laughing. You drop your cue cards. You open your mouth, but you can’t speak. Somehow, you’re naked. As farfetched as these dreams can be, it doesn’t stop that feeling of dread creeping in when you’re about to perform. So what should you do if stage fright is starting to get you down?

Talk

While it’s the most vital step in resolving any issue, talking is often the hardest thing to do. As the saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, so try to talk about your stage fright with your bandmates, management team or friends and family. The more you talk, the more you’ll discover how common an issue it is. It’ll also allow other people to help you. For example, your manager could speak to production staff at a big gig and advise them to give you a bit of undisturbed personal time.

Be prepared

Sometimes nerves can be eased by something as simple as having a plan. The more variables you can prepare for, the less ‘unknown’ there is to fear. Make sure you get as much information about the gig as possible, rehearse your material thoroughly and pack any spare accessories you might need. You might also benefit from getting a feel of the stage before you go on. If you don’t have a soundcheck to take advantage of, you could ask to see the stage when the venue is empty.

build confidence off stage

For some people, a general lack of confidence lies at the heart of their performance problems. Taking up martial arts, dance, or improv classes might help you to find extra confidence. If you’re not ready to commit to a new hobby you can push yourself in other ways, like talking to a stranger on the bus or ordering something different at a restaurant.

put things in perspective

When you find yourself beginning to panic, it might help you to rationalise some of your fears. Ask yourself, is anyone really going to remember if you stumble over a couple of words? Is anyone paying that much attention to your specifically, or are they just enjoying a drink at the bar? Audiences can be remarkably unobservant. They’re unlikely to notice your nerves unless you make it a big deal. If things don’t go as planned, remember that this is just one show and it doesn’t have to define your music career.