Sometimes, imagining the audience in their underwear just isn’t enough.
Stage fright can be embarrassing and debilitating. And it doesn’t only occur on stage. Performance anxiety can strike when giving a presentation, doing a job interview, or during any other form of public speaking.
Nearly 80% of the population experiences some degree of stage fright. If you’re one of them, read on to learn how to overcome stage fright once and for all.
Expose Yourself to Your Fear
A lot of people with stage fright choose to avoid public speaking that may trigger discomfort. But one of the best strategies to overcome stage fright is to face your fear head-on.
Cognitive-behavioral methods of therapy encourage people to work through the thoughts driving their fears. Then, those thoughts and fears are challenged through exposure therapy.
But you don’t have to see a therapist to experience this solution.
Find opportunities to put yourself in front of an audience. Join a public speaking group, or volunteer to speak at a charity event. Media training can also help you feel more comfortable performing in front of a camera through coaching and workshops.
Consider What Might Go Right
Chances are, if you have stage fright, you’re only focusing on what might go wrong. But have you considered what might go right?
Reframing your predictions can make a massive difference in performance anxiety. Each time you imagine something negative, train your brain to think of two other positive possible outcomes.
For example, you’re about to give a work presentation to the entire office. You’re feeling nervous imagining yourself forgetting your words.
Then, you imagine yourself remembering all your words and your boss admiring your work. You also imagine yourself forgetting some words, but no one notices, and your presentation continues smoothly.
Training your brain to think more positively can be one effective way to nix your phobia.
Take Care of Your Health
Your lifestyle can play a significant role in your mental health. If your stage fright is taking over your thoughts and emotions, you may want to consider your physical health too.
If you have a big performance or public speaking event coming up, it’s essential to get plenty of sleep. You can also get the jitters out by going for a run or exercising.
Try to avoid drinking caffeine or using other stimulants that may add to your anxiety.
If you get nauseous when nervous, avoid irritating or heavy foods. But don’t skip meals entirely, which may make you feel more shaky than stable.
Stop Striving for Perfection
Giving a perfect performance isn’t as important as you may think.
People likely won’t notice if you make a mistake. And sometimes, a stage performance that involves a little accidental improvisation can be extra impressive.
For some scenarios like a work presentation or a toast at a wedding, it can even seem more thoughtful and authentic when you go off-script.
So remember, perfection isn’t always best. Instead, being in the moment and trying a little ad-libbing can sometimes have the best effect.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
If the thought of being on stage makes you feel self-conscious, try to practice your material beforehand thoroughly.
Practice in front of a mirror or while filming yourself to catch areas where you may need improvement.
It can also be helpful to practice your presentation in front of other people (such as friends) before giving your final performance in front of your audience.
When you know your material, you can feel more confident and capable. Not only that, but if you do get nervous, you’ll know your performance so well that it’s okay if you go on autopilot.
Remember What Matters
To overcome stage fright, remember why you’re speaking in front of people in the first place.
What is the point of your performance? What message are you trying to communicate?
Stage fright stems from a fear of being judged or rejected. And to overcome that fear, you must care about something else more.
In other words, you must remember what truly matters.
If you dream of being an actor, remember the motivations driving that dream. Those motivations matter much more than whether or not someone in the audience judges you. Or, if you’re pitching a product at a work meeting, selling that product matters over giving a perfectly executed presentation.
Focus on what truly matters, not on other people’s opinions of you.
Talk to a Therapist
If you’ve tried some of these strategies and you can’t seem to overcome your performance anxiety, a therapist may be able to help.
A therapist can discuss an individualized plan to help you feel less self-conscious in front of others. They can also determine if your stage fright is related to another issue, such as social anxiety.
Even if you’ve experienced stage fright your entire life, it is possible to overcome it. A therapist can support you through that process.
Learn How to Overcome Stage Fright
Stage fright doesn’t have to get in the way of your performances and presentations. Anyone can become more confident and self-assured. But how to overcome stage fright isn’t the same for everyone.
Use the tips discussed here, and find the strategies that help you most. And like with any fear, it may take time to overcome your fear of public speaking. Stay patient, keep going, and with time you’ll forget stage fright ever existed.
Do you want more advice on mental health and boosting confidence? Check out our lifestyle and health articles for more practical advice and tips!