Stage fright, also known as performance anxiety, is the most common phobia in the US. So If you find yourself racked with unpleasant anxiety when you’re thrust into the spotlight, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are a few tricks, both practical and psychological, that you can learn to combat it.
8 Stage Fright Treatments
“Diaphragmatic breathing” is just a fancy term for inhaling your breaths into your belly rather than just your lungs. When you breathe in this way, your hand should rise if placed over your belly button.
Breathing diaphragmatically while and directly before you are on stage is proven to ease stage fright considerably by promoting confidence and reducing anxiety.
Of course, remembering to breathe diaphragmatically on stage is easier said than done if you suffer from performance anxiety. Doctors recommend you prep yourself by doing this exercise before showtime: first, close your eyes. Then, take several breaths in which you inhale deeply through your nose, make sure the breath goes all the way to your belly, and then exhale through your mouth. This exercise will help you breathe diaphragmatically without even thinking about it.
Remember Why the Audience is There
Remember that the audience is not there to see you per se, but rather the content you are presenting. Focus on making the content as enjoyable as possible and understand that the audience isn’t scrutinizing how the information is delivered, but just the info itself.
Of course, your delivery is noticeable to you, because you have to think about it actively. The audience doesn’t, though, so they’re thinking about it a lot less than you are.
In short: remember that YOU’RE NOT THE MAIN ATTRACTION.
It’s no secret that moving around helps us work off excess energy. This is true for lots of reasons, both physical and psychological. So it’s only natural that moving around while you’re in the spotlight will help work off stage fright anxiety!
If you’re giving a presentation, for instance, pace back and forth slowly and incorporate subtle hand gestures. It won’t give you a workout, but it will go a long way towards easing your stage fright.
Throw Your Nerves
As soon as you get a look at the area you’ll be “presenting” in, pick a random point behind where the audience will be. That will be your focal point.
During practice and performance, you should use your focal point to “throw” all of your nervous energy. Imagine all of your stage fright flowing out of you and into that spot behind the crowd.
This might sound silly, but sports psychologist Don Greene says it really works. It actually tricks your brain into thinking you have let go of your anxiety and sent it elsewhere.
Most people don’t realize how much posture affects confidence. Standing up straight and pushing out your chest actually has a noticeable psychological difference in your words, and it can help big-time with stage fright.
Standing up straight helps with anxiety for a few reasons. First, it makes deep, calm breathing easier by straightening air passageways. Second, it releases natural anti-anxiety hormones called GABA neurotransmitters. Third, it signals to the brain that you are safe, and you can direct all your focus to the task at hand.
Know That Stage Fright is 100% Natural
Keep in mind that everyone, even people who love performing, get some stage fright when they are in the spotlight.
The difference between good performers and bad is that good ones do not let anxiety hurt their performance. Instead, they actually harness their anxiety and use it to improve their performance by using the next tip…
Reframe Your Anxiety
A study from Harvard Business School found that it’s possible to examine your nervousness and reevaluate it as excitement. That excitement translates into the confidence you can wow your audience, and that belief is easily transferable to reality.
Again, this might sound like a silly trick, but it works, and it’s a total game-changer, and it’s key to not just banishing stage fright, but loving the stage.
Don’t Drink Caffeine
A shot of coffee might seem like a good way to boost your energy before going in front of others, but it will just make you more on-edge and unfocused.
It is true that you should be lively when in the spotlight, but it’s also important that you find ways to calm yourself. Caffeine prevents you from doing that.
FOR A MORE SCIENTIFICALLY-DRIVEN TAKE ON WHAT CAUSES STAGE FRIGHT AND HOW TO COMBAT IT, CHECK OUT THIS GREAT TED TALK!