5 Tips for Overcoming Stage Fright

A comic of two men hiding behind a podium. One man says to the other, "Of course you're allowed to have stage fright. As soon as your talk is over."

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Nothing kills creativity faster than fear. Those who struggle with stage fright know this better than anyone else.

But here’s the good news: stage fright can be overcome. Professional musicians, dancers, speakers, and other performing artists use the following tips to subdue the effects of stage fright.

1. Medication

A medication called propranolol can be used to counteract the physical effects of stage fright, which include shaky hands, a trembling voice, sweaty palms, and a racing heart. It works by way of being a beta-blocker, which basically means it blocks adrenaline. Aside from being used for performance anxiety, it is often used to treat high blood pressure.

Another common medication used to treat performance anxiety is lorazepam (also known by its brand name, Ativan). Lorazepam is classified in a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. Basically, they produce a calming effect. However, benzodiazepines can be highly addictive and should be used with caution.

2. Deep Breathing

In addition to the use of doctor prescribed medication, many performance artists practice deep breathing. Proper deep breathing should expand the diaphragm as one inhales and slowly release the diaphragm as one exhales. A common technique is to inhale for five seconds, hold it for five seconds, and exhale for five seconds. This should be repeated immediately prior to the performance for however long as need be.

3. Meditation

This tip was purposefully placed just below the deep breathing technique as the two often go hand-in-hand. When meditating, one can either attempt to clear one’s mind of all thoughts, distractions, and clutter, or one can take the opportunity to visualize their success. Experiment with both to see which one is most soothing.

4. Positive Affirmations

Repeating positive words or phrases can help build confidence and thus reduce the effects of stage fright. But rather than repeating these affirmations mere minutes before a performance, try repeating them first thing in the morning and throughout the whole day. Better yet, do them every day. This will rewire the brain’s response system so that over time, the body won’t react with panic whenever a performance is coming up.

Some positive affirmation suggestions:

“I am confident in my skills, talents, and abilities.”
“I know I can do this. I can do anything I put my mind to.”
“My self-worth is not determined by what other people think of me. I know my value.”

5. Speak Before Performing

This technique is particularly important for singers and musicians. Speaking to the audience before giving a performance is like a warm-up; it allows one to get comfortable being on stage before presenting their work.

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Tell us: did you try any of these techniques? If so, did they work for you? What other tips or techniques do you find to be helpful?

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