How To Overcome Stage Fright

You’ve dreamt of this moment a thousand times. 

What it would feel like to step on stage and look into the audience to see all those excited faces staring back at you. You’ve thought about what it would feel like to hear them sing your lyrics back to you, to see them swaying along to the music.

But when you open your eyes, the reality is all but the magic you hoped for. In fact, when you actually step on stage, you’re kind of terrified. Sweaty palms, stomach in knots, heart threatening to beat right out of your chest..and you realize—you’re nervous. Like, crazy nervous. Every fear and doubt you’ve ever had about yourself is flooding your mind right now and you’re freaking out.

Sound familiar?

Stage fright, believe it or not, affects more musicians than you might think. In fact, most musicians will feel some kind of healthy anxiety before taking the stage, but for others, it can feel almost paralyzing, keeping them from doing the performances that they not only want to do but need to do to expand their career.

And while a healthy amount of fear is a good sign that you actually care about what you’re doing, you also probably would like to take the stage and actually enjoy it instead of wanting to run as far away as possible. So, here are a few ways you can fight back and start loving the stage.

Reframe how you think about fear

Believe it or not, fear and excitement are actually rooted in the same emotions, and they create the same response in our bodies.

Think about it. If you’re excited, what do you feel? Heart races, palms sweat, stomach in knots. And when you’re afraid? Heart races, palms sweat, stomach in knots.

It’s the same thing. Our body responds the same exact way to both things. The only difference is the story we tell ourselves as to why it’s happening.

Now I’m not saying if you’re in an actual dangerous situation you should try to trick yourself that it’s exciting (although many adrenaline junkies do just that) but rather, when our bodies begin to feel that nagging doubt that precedes a freakout and we’re not actually in danger, try to reframe it. 

In this case, when you get ready to step on stage, instead of thinking “this is terrifying, what if I suck, they’re all going to laugh at me” think “this is exciting! I get to do what I love in front of a paying audience, I get to have fun and hang out with my friends, this is going to be awesome!” Go a step further and actually say it out loud, too. I know, it might feel silly, but it increases the effectiveness times 10.

It can feel a little weird, and even a little forced at first, but as someone who has tried this firsthand when nervous, I can tell you, it really does work, and the more you do it, the more you train your mind to view this as an exciting opportunity instead of a scary one.

Develop a Pre-Show and Post-Show Routine

In my opinion, a lot of these fears stem from the unknown and the general lack of control around them. If you can develop a consistent, calming routine pre-show to get you in the right mindset, as well as a post-show routine to celebrate your success, then you’re on the right track. 

Think about what’s going to keep you the most calm and make you the happiest, and implement it. For instance, maybe it’s meditation or maybe it’s that you spend the afternoon before the show alone binging TV shows. Maybe you blast your favorite song and dance around to get the nerves out (I’m a big fan of that one). Develop a routine that works for YOU.

Then, create a post-show reward. I’m big on rewarding ourselves for the tough things we’ve done so if this were me, I might say “after this show, you’re going to treat yourself to an ice cream sundae” or “after this show, you get to sleep in tomorrow and wake up as late as you want.” Having something to look forward to and recognizing yourself for a job well done is incredibly important.

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Practice makes perfect

The more prepared you are, the less anxious you feel. It’s just a fact. So if you’re feeling anxious about getting on stage, one of the steps you can take is to simply practice more.

Practice your instrument, practice as a band, practice the type of banter you’ll have from the stage, and practice how you’ll move. I am certain the more prepared you feel, and the more you put that into practice, the more confident you’ll feel.

Ultimately, you have to get out there and put all of this good advice to use. You can overthink it until you’re blue in the face (although, that’s what got you here) but at some point you have to get out there, get back on the stage, and put all of this to practice. 

The only way to combat stage fright is to go out there over and over again, see that nothing horrific is happening (or that if your worst fears happen they weren’t actually that bad), and keep going.

This is the same way I’ve approached every obstacle I’ve come up against and I can tell you it really does work. For instance, I used to hate phone calls. I still don’t love them, but I no longer turn into a ball of nerves and give myself headaches every time someone suggests one.

They used to cause me SO much anxiety. So, I forced myself to get on the phone a LOT. I actually would suggest a call when an artist got in touch about working together, or someone wanted to connect. I forced myself to work through the discomfort. And now? It’s totally second nature.

Remember, this is your moment to shine on stage—so own it!

Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.

ColtonHow To Overcome Stage Fright

19 comments

Join the conversation
  • Rakesh - December 14, 2021 reply

    Performance anxiety or stage fright is a big thing for me. May be your recommendations will work for me.

  • Louise Peacock - December 15, 2021 reply

    Excellent advice. Thank you for sharing. Should work for most people.

    I never have a problem getting up in front of a crowd, I can present a talk on anything without fear. But performing music is impossible for me. My biggest issue is Imposter Syndrome. Hard to deal with.

  • Rob Roper - December 15, 2021 reply

    I think the third point– practice– is most important. I know when you’re finished writing a song, you’re excited, and can’t wait to show it to people. That’s certainly how I feel. But if you haven’t memorized the lyrics, or practiced the music yet, it won’t impress. And you’ll be stressed out when you inevitably make mistakes. Learn your song first. Then you’ll be more relaxed, because you are less likely to screwup something. You will perform it better, so now it has a chance of impressing people. I had to learn that lesson the hard way.

  • Bill - December 15, 2021 reply

    Alcohol the end….

  • Poke A Brain - December 16, 2021 reply

    also don’t forget that ultimately who cares! lol… even when you are prepared and follow all advises, something can go wrong or you can have an embarrassing moment (ie: you fall down the stage as you are going up the stairs, your mic electrocutes your mouth, the drummer is too drunk and quits in the middle of the show lol.. when funny, just laugh with everyone else!)… do your best and try to enjoy what you do… also help yourself by making it easier to perform, unless you are some kind of virtuoso who is there to show off incredible skills, if you play guitar, an Aadd9C7 what-have-you chord that needs 3 frets and a pinky on the bridge, could be easily be played with a normal A… NO ONE will know the difference and rather you will get to walk around, smile at people and have more fun which is far more important than playing sophisticated chords… or piano arrangements… Be yourself is all that you can be…

  • Tom Duarte - December 16, 2021 reply

    I am fortunate in that despite being a bit shy, I have never had actual stage fright to any crippling degree. One mindset that I have always had is that I just imagine if I were in the audience, watching me or any performer for that matter. They are not waiting to “pounce” on me. If I am comfortable in performance, they’re going to be comfortable watching me. A good example of this is (and I can honestly say, one of the few times I have experienced anything similar to stage fright) at one of my first ever gigs, I found myself hiding behind my band’s bass player’s Vox Super Beatle amp during my solo in “Louie, Louie”. I realized that I looked more stupid being self-conscious than if I were just out in front doing my thing! I never got nervous again after that. The previous message mentioned practicing – VERY important factor. From the beginning of my performance career, I have always practiced fanatically so as to make sure everything I play is down to muscle memory and totally second nature.

    Cash - December 17, 2021 reply

    Very well said, Tom!

  • Facunga - December 16, 2021 reply

    Fear of rejection plays a part. Angela makes a great point to focus on the privilege to be doing what you love.

  • roshan hill - December 16, 2021 reply

    yes for me its fear of rejection and generally too much thinking

  • Abrown - December 17, 2021 reply

    Present 💪🏻

  • Cash - December 17, 2021 reply

    Tommy Emmanuel gave the best advice about stage fright. He said that your audience really wants you to do well and are excited to be witness to that. He’s absolutely right and knowing that and approaching your public performance with that in mind is quite comforting for a solo musician.

  • Dan McGlade - December 17, 2021 reply

    Great article. Some good suggestions I hadn’t thought of. Thanks Angela!

  • John Lars Zwerenz - December 19, 2021 reply

    How to overcome stage fright? Plug in your patch cord and adjust your microphone… John Lars Zwerenz

  • Perry t Dilley - December 24, 2021 reply

    i am one who got on stage in the 80’s in san diego with a band and blew it. later i got married but i told myself i would never do that again and quit music, after attempting to kill myself after leaving my cheating wife was on life support 5 days but barely survived. am now trying to get back into music some 35 years later and old in albuquerque, new mexico every band i have tried to talk to says im too old etc. so dont let your dream get away you will regret it so badly the rest of your days and wonder how it could have been.

  • Christina Nichole Black - January 4, 2022 reply

    I’ve been singing since I was 6 years old… on stage… and I do feel stage fright because I know that more times than not, it’s going to be a new crowd. Some there may have already seen me somewhere before, while everyone else is new. I always think, what if they don’t like me? What if a movement I make on stage actually turns out looking stupid. And I can’t dance to save my life. Lol But thanks to this blog post,I have a new way to look at it. And I have a way of testing out my movements before I go on a stage so I’ll feel more confident. Rather I do them in front of a mirror or record myself. It let’s me see what works and what looks ridiculous from another angle. Your tips are truly inspirational. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • Rupam Sarmah - January 11, 2022 reply

    this is the most important phycology…It’s all about your thinking…yes for me its fear of rejection and generally too much thinking

  • Maria Butterfly - January 13, 2022 reply

    This was very helpful even though I knew already, it’s always good to be reminded 💯🦋

  • Shams - January 26, 2022 reply

    Being positive in mind helps a lot.

  • koushik - January 30, 2022 reply

    I’ve been singing since I was 6 years old…

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