Stage Fright is the number one phobia in the world…after the fear of death. Isn’t that crazy?!
Nonetheless, it’s not that surprising if we fully understand the core of our human nature and the incessant need of belongingness that fuels such fear. Deep down inside, we are all social animals who crave being accepted into a community (or a cause) greater than ourselves. But sometimes our need for validation and making good ‘first impressions’ paralyzes us into perplexing hesitation. Especially when we are faced with the task of engaging or entertaining an audience of 100 strangers whom have never our names before.
Personally speaking, the best way of getting rid of stage fright is by desensitizing yourself over a prolonged repeated period of time, so that the initial jitters dissipate and self-confidence spikes little by little. Coming from someone who has dealt with social anxiety most of his life, I have found that forcing myself into public-speaking settings is the best quick-fix for the tremors, sweaty hands and offbeat palpitations. I promise you that after the 50th time, it will seem like a walk in the park.
2. CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Being constantly vulnerable at open mic venues, speaking events and interpretation conferences has not only thickened my skin, but also loosened up the ego. After performing countless of times in front of different audiences, I have come to the harsh realization that is ultimately IMPOSSIBLE to please everyone out there. We are not in control of others’ opinions about us nor how they perceive us…this applies to celebrities and others who get paid for doing this by the way. The only things you have control over are: Preparation, body language and the energy you emanate. So please don’t succumb to pressure when being on stage because at the end of the day you don’t have much to lose but a couple pounds of irrational fear; unless your job is on the line 😉
If you still feel paralyzed after having embraced this ground-breaking realities, then ask yourself the following: “How am I serving (or helping) others with what I am about to convey?” and “Am I being the most genuine and best expression of myself while doing this?”. Whenever you get the jitters you could also say to yourself: “Something great is about to happen” or “Let’s have fun and see what happens“. Self-questions and self-talk will usually shift your perspective as well as your focus. Questioning yourself also allows you to clear your mind from fog that blinds you from what really matters.
4. PREPARATION AND VISUALIZATION
If you are preparing a long monologue or presentation, I’d recommend you to write down the entire speech and repeat it out loud as many times as you can, in different settings and in front of different people. Whenever I come up with a new 4-minute poem, I first write it down on my computer, then I re-write it on a piece of paper while making some adjustments. Later, I repeat it to myself, to my wife and even while I am performing strenuous activities such as lifting weights… to allow the narrative to sink in even when I am going through arduous or uncomfortable tasks. Lastly, but not least, I visualize the end result. Before I step on stage I am already hearing the rowdy crowd giving me standing ovations and embracing me with warmth.
5. LET GO AND HAVE FUN
After following all the laid out steps, just have fun and let go of yourself. First do a quick read of the audience and then go into auto-mode without overthinking about the consequences or expectations that others may have. Just deliver whatever you have crafted with the passion and love that you may have for it.
Check out this fun interview I had with a famous voice actor of Peru regarding this topic 🙂