When someone tells you ‘‘stage fright is all in your head,’’ you can agree—to a point. It is in your head, but it’s also in your voice, your body, and your nervous and digestive systems. It may start from imagined apprehension, but the symptoms that invade your body are real, and all of those affirmations posted on your refrigerator or dressing room mirror, denying the reality of stage fright are simply taking up space.
Stop denying its existence, and step up and meet it eye to eye. The more you try to suppress your nervous anxiety, the more it will feed on your hidden feelings. Let the heart pump and the hands get cold and clammy and see it for what it is, your brain’s instinctive reaction to your own overblown anxiety.
The way to overcome stage fright is to simply cut out the what-ifs and enjoy the challenges instead of fighting them. What follows is a list of some common what-ifs. Look them over to see how many of them you may have used to start your adrenaline pumping. Make a copy of this list and review it as you prepare for your next big event—singing or speaking. This will help you to get those deep, hidden what-ifs out in the open where you can challenge them and out them in their place.
To personalize the list, add any other what-ifs that you have experienced. (There will probably be some overlap between your fears and your what-ifs.)
1. What if I look like a fool?
2. What if I forget the words?
3. What if the audience doesn’t like me?
4. What if I lose my voice?
5. What if I embarrass and humiliate myself in front of my family or peers?
6. What if I pass out?
7. What if I get sick to my stomach and have to leave the room in the middle of
8. my talk?
9. What if I just plain suck?
Consider this: What if you stopped resisting the negative energy and welcomed it by giving it positive feedback like, ‘‘What if I’m fabulous and everything I deserve is now coming my way?’’ or ‘‘What if they absolutely love my presentation and I get fifteen new clients?’’ Either of these should stop your negative, doom-and- gloom brain dead in its tracks. The emotions connected to a positive what-if will energize you to fight the negative ones.
The point is not to buy into those thoughts of doom and disaster anymore. Keep them in perspective by changing you're thinking and calming down the adrenaline. Instead of letting the anxiety frighten or anger you, try channeling all that energy in a more positive direction such as happily running through your presentation one more time. Emotion is a vital part of your energy and you don’t want to lose it.
An emotionless performance, presentation, or interview is boring, so your goal is not to put a lid on your feelings; your goal is to redirect those feelings from their negative direction to that positive direction. Practice, Practice, Practice!
(To deep-dive into the Stage-Fright pool of resistance read Chapter Eight of Joni's best-selling book: The Voice Of Success: Female version or Male version. The more you know about the cause of stage fright, the less intimidating that monster becomes! Joni's books are available on amazon .com and as a bonus in the Voice of Success Training package.)
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