Stage Fright isn't Funny :(

I had the interesting experience over the weekend to attend a comedy club’s stand-up competition where aspiring comedians had to do a 3-minute set and based on audience applause, they could move on to Round 2 and hopefully win the coveted boxing gloves comedy champ trophy. I won’t get into details about the routines the various people did. Suffice it to say that some were confident and relaxed and because they were relaxed, the audience was able to relax… hence… a good time was had by all and they ended up winning their round. Other competitors were completely locked up with awkward stage fright; something that has happened to all performers at one time or another. A friend commented, "everyone's funny until they have to stand up". How true!

As a singing teacher and vocal coach, stage fright is something I need to coach people about constantly. The number one cause of stage fright is feeling unprepared. How many of us have gotten up to perform a song or deliver a speech when we really weren’t 100% sure we knew the material? No matter what your level, novice or seasoned professional… none of us are truly comfortable with “winging it”. I believe Clint Eastwood’s very painful performance during the Republican Convention can serve for all time as the poster child of the pitfalls of “winging it”. If a seasoned pro like Eastwood can fall flat on his face, how could the rest of us not falter at one time or another?

And so, here are my top 10 tips for avoiding stage fright:

      1) Know your material inside and out – no “winging it”.

      2) Arrive well in advance of when you are to perform so you don’t feel rushed or rattled.

      3) Try to get enough sleep the night before – a well rested brain is a better performing brain.

      4) Avoid bad foods and too much alcohol… they will sap your energy and make you feel less than you could.

      5) Avoid large amounts of caffeine or other stimulants, they will increase your nervous energy and make you appear jittery and nervous       on stage.

      6) Drink plenty of water - a hydrated voice and brain will serve you best.

      7) Find a quiet place to centre yourself before you go on and take at least 8 deep abdominal breaths to focus your energy

      8) Envision that you are fully grounded to the earth when you stand

      9) Remember, no matter the size of the audience, it is just made up of individual people so direct your message to 4 separate people         spaced apart in different areas of the room. Including individual people in your presentation will make everyone there feel included.

      10) Visualize yourself performing successfully in advance of your performance.

If you plan to succeed, you will… thinking back to the comedy club, it’s “funny” how that works.

1 comment

  • Jason coroy

    Jason coroy

    Great article Kim, works well for public speaking and presentation in sales. Thanks for sharing!

    Great article Kim, works well for public speaking and presentation in sales. Thanks for sharing!

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