I've written about stage fright before as it was
the first entry in my other blog "Catching Feathers". One thing I noticed is that I don't
address nervousness that occurs leading up to the event.
on stage is fun and scary. If you let the perception of yourself and
the audience reaction to your presence consume you, it surely will. You
may indeed fail or just not do as well as you hoped as your mind leads
you to think inward. It’s as
if you are on the surface of your own skin looking in. Because your
instincts tell you to be self-conscious, nervous, overly concerned about
other peoples perceptions of you, you cannot escape the 4 walls that
you yourself have erected and then cannot find a way out to connect with
those around you. How can you communicate and connect with an audience
if you are still clinging to the surface of your own skin?
fact the best way to combat these self-depreciating feelings is to do
the exact opposite; be completely aware of your surroundings until the
focus is no longer on yourself. Noticing subtle things about other
people and the environment you're in is something that the strangle-hold
of anxiety would never have allowed. Of course nerves are still there
but they will no longer be your focal point. Instead the experience of
that moment with the people who are there with you (who really want you
to do well) will be the antidote.
This realization allowed me to
connect with my audience in a way I never had previously and was the key
to my performances. It turned me into someone with moderate stage
fright to someone who can make an audience laugh on the fly because I
notice things that I never would have before. I can read crowds more
easily, express what I am singing, and feel the energy from the audience being cast in my direction, a great connection is felt.
this practice in my career and personal situations as well. If I feel
nervous, I remind myself that the situation isn't about me, it's about
the moment, it's about the people around me but most of all it's about
being aware and finding joy in my surroundings."
thing I didn't address was the days, weeks, sometimes months leading up
to major events. Stage fright isn't limited to immediately before you
go on stage or during. How do you deal with the impending nervousness? I
wanted to take a moment to address these emotions. Applicable to public
speaking, performing, attending an event, going on a date or anytime.
who taught me Reiki for Hospice once said, "If I believed for a second I
had a hand in any of this, I would be too nervous to do what I do. I'm
just a conduit." I think this is applicable to performance and life as
The key is to stay in the moment at all times.
Thinking forward brings on anxiety so pay attention and if you start to
anxious, it's a reminder to come back into the moment. Yes, it may be
rather exhausting bringing your thoughts back to center again and again.
Especially if you're not used to being aware of your own thoughts
before they stir up emotions.
Use your energy to rehearse or prepare on some level so you can direct your energy to the event in a productive way.
A method that works for me, especially the day of, is to
force yourself to believe that everyone has to wake up and do what you
have to do that very same day.
I recently learned another method when I listened to the
RadioLab Podcast (highly recommended) "Known Unknowns"
from guests TJ
and Dave, an improvisational comedy troupe. Many of us have the
advantage of rehearsing or knowing what we are going to say or do at an
TJ and Dave don't. This has to be the ultimate breeding ground
for stage fright so I listened hard.
What they share may
sound strange (not so outlandish for quantum fans), "To think of the
show as, it's already all set, all I have to do is stay out of the way;
takes a huge pressure off. I'm not a determining active part in this,
I'm along for this excellent ride that's already excellent with a friend
of mine if I listen and pay attention to what the show is doing."
few more TJ and Dave quotes that apply to stage fright, "When the
lights go up, nothing else exists." and "Take things as they come in the
moment, don't presuppose. When I don't presuppose or predetermine too
much and take things as they come in the moment, I know I'm living a
much less anxious life."
Any method you chose, know
that it is completely normal and the more you put yourself out there,
the easier it will get (though it may never fully go away!). Besides,
nerves remind you that you are alive and shows you are
passionate about what you do. It's a good problem to have.