Whether you’re an actor, musician, or a vocalist, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to perform in front of many audiences throughout the course of your career.
And it may seem contradictory, but many artists and performers are actually very uncomfortable on stage and had to work hard to get to a state of mind where they would be able to battle their stage fright.
Some people have a very minor case of stage fright that does not prevent them from performing in public. Others may have such severe stage fright that they can’t even stand in front of a crowd.
In this article, we will discuss a few basic symptoms of stage fright and take a look at a few methods for preventing or lessening stage fright.
But as with many other issues, the first step to resolving it is acknowledging its presence.
Below you’ll find several common symptoms that help define stage fright. Stage fright is not a literal medical condition, and so people can experience it in many different ways.
And the only way to determine whether your stage fright is a real problem is to ask yourself whether it has gotten in way of a successful performance or potential sources of income.
One of the most common attributes of experiencing stage fright is to feel a significant amount of anxiety while on stage and especially before going on stage.
Are most of your thoughts focused on an upcoming performance? Have you been losing sleep over the idea of going on stage?
These could be signs that your stage fright is a real challenge, and that you’ll need to take steps to limit the symptoms of your stage fright in the future.
Sweating can be an inconvenient and frustrating symptom of stage fright for many performers. The good news with regards to this particular symptom is that it can be a common aspect of performing in general, especially if the onstage lighting is especially strong.
The best thing to do when you notice yourself sweating on stage is to try not to panic or become overly self-conscious.
Continue to project strength and confidence and your audience will follow along with you.
Physically shaking is another common symptom of severe stage fright. If you’re a singer or a public speaker, then shaking can cause serious problems when you’re in front of a crowd.
More specifically, shaking can sometimes affect your voice, making it clear to your audience that you’re feeling incredibly uncomfortable.
For some people, shaking related to stage fright can be so serious that they have to leave the stage soon after appearing.
This symptom is most common among singers. It’s the result of stage fright combined with continued strain on the vocal cords.
Basically, your voice may audibly break. It sounds similar to when a teenager’s voice breaks when it’s still changing.
The reality of vocal breaks is explained very simple: your vocal cords are muscular, similar to the muscles in your arms and legs. When you feel stressed or tense, your muscles tense as well, and that sometimes includes your vocal cords.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to relax just your vocal cords in the moment. Instead, you’ll need to relax your whole body, preferably before going on stage.
An Aversion to Crowds
Stage fright experienced during live performances may, in turn, affect how you feel about crowds in general.
Have you found it difficult lately to attend concerts or public events? Have you felt intimidated by busy retail stores? Have you been avoiding socialization to stay at home in peace and quiet?
This feeling could be caused by stage fright as well as by antisocial tendencies. Regardless of the cause, this aversion to crowds can certainly have a negative effect on future performances and may even prevent you from going on stage at all.
We tend to refer to this feeling as the deer-in-the-headlights look. It’s when you’re so nervous during a performance that you forget dialogue or the lyrics to a song.
You simply freeze on stage, bringing the performance to a dead halt as the audience wonders what’s happening.
For obvious reasons, this can have a hugely negative effect on the performance as a whole and negate all the prep work you’d done prior to the show.
Now that we’ve covered a few common symptoms of stage fright among performers and public speakers, let’s discuss a couple of potential ways to battle stage fright and regain confidence.
If these methods don’t work for you personally, then you may want to consult with a close friend or some fellow performers.
You’ll be surprised how many performers have had to deal with stage fright in some form at some point during their careers.
Immersion therapy has grown to be very popular in recent years, and it can be applied to many different varieties of fears and phobias.
The basic idea is to immerse yourself in the exact situation that frightens you, but in a safe and contained way.
For example, for someone who is afraid of spiders, immersion therapy may involve interacting with harmless spiders in a controlled space, one where no harm could possibly come to the person.
For someone who suffers from stage fright, this process might involve performing in front of a crowd of friends and loved ones.
It still features the basic elements of a performance while also giving the performer the feeling of safety and confidence that they need to succeed.
Once they’ve performed successfully in front of loved ones, they may be more confident when it comes to performing in front of strangers.
Another suggestion for combating stage fright is to bolster your self-confidence before going on stage.
Deep breathing exercises are a great way to calm down both your mind and your body before stepping in front of a crowd.
But we would also recommend repeating affirmations for yourself. Say positive sentences out loud, alone, to help give yourself the confidence you need.
It’s also important that you get plenty of sleep in the nights leading up to your performance.
This is your chance to remind yourself that you’re talented and that you’re going to succeed and win over this crowd.