“Stage fright” is the term for an excessive amount of pre-performance nerves. It’s an issue for all performers at times but can often be particularly strong for singers. Something about singing and being center stage heightens that sense of self-awareness and apprehension.
Luckily, there are ways to ease stage fright, some of which are outlined below. You’ll probably find your own blend of these tips, and others, that you discover work for you over time. Good luck!
Hopefully, you’ve prepared for, practiced, and rehearsed for this show. The main point of doing so is to have that essential preparation and technique to fall back on. Often, nerves or apprehension can come as a result of the knowledge that you are underprepared, so it follows that being fully prepared is the best possible thing you can do to ensure that doesn’t happen.
If you can step on stage soundly in the knowledge that you are 100% ready for what you’re about to do, that provides an element of certainty, which creates a sense of calm. So, prepare thoroughly, not only in the run-up to the performance but also on the day and immediately before going on stage with your warm-ups and practice routines. This ensures you are entering the situation fully ready.
This follows on from the previous point but goes beyond “warm-ups” in the sense of rehearsal and preparation. What’s also important is exercises and stretching. Besides being good for your body — opening up your throat and airways and relaxing the muscles to help with your singing itself — it also has the effect of relaxing your body and mind. Some people do yoga, and this is for that exact same purpose. Breathing and stretching exercises will get your blood flowing and release endorphins in your brain, making you feel alive, energized, happier, warm, and ready to enter the situation.
The Audience is with You
This is really important to remember. One of the common elements of stage fright is the feeling that the audience is there to criticize, is baying for blood, or on alert for mistakes. It’s not true.
The audience wants a performer to do well — they’re excited to see the performance, hoping for something great, and wishing the performer well. They don’t want to see somebody do badly or make mistakes or have a difficult time; they are there in support. Keeping in mind the sense that the audience is with you and not against you is an important psychological viewpoint in terms of feeling a bit more relaxed when going on stage.
You’re the Expert
So often, stage fright makes us say to ourselves “I’m going to make mistakes and the audience will notice them.”
The element of making mistakes is hopefully reduced or removed by the above tips, however, there is another point which addresses the thought that the audience will notice the mistakes if they happen.
You’re likely to be far more musically proficient than most in attendance and, honestly, you’d be surprised how often little mistakes that the performer notices (due to their detailed knowledge of the material) go unnoticed by the audience, who are swallowed by the overall sense of performance and the multitude of things happening on and off stage. This is a worry you should entirely remove for this reason and for another reason too, which is that this is something beyond your control. Focus on your own performance!
Keep the entire situation in perspective — this is not a matter of life and death; this is a show. It’s meant to be fun! Remembering to keep it in perspective and see it for what it really is rather than something to be feared. This will allow you to deliver an engaging performance.
Whatever happens will happen, and life will go on afterwards. Fear, worry, and anxiety are all feelings that involve us exaggerating the sense of danger and the feared outcomes that will never happen (and even if they did, they’d be nowhere near as bad as we feared). So, keep it in perspective!