Stage fright is not something that only happens to beginners; it can and does happen to anyone, including some of the most experienced performers. For years they’ll happily perform in front of thousands of people, and then, one night, they’ll go out on stage and think to themselves: what am I doing here?
There are several techniques that can be used to combat stage-fright, but most of them focus solely on getting through that very first line. Once that’s out of the way, everything tends to fall into place, so giving yourself something specific to do before singing your first note can work wonders.
Stress is often relieved by physical exercise, so stretch and run on the spot before you perform. If you suffer from a dry throat, which is a classic symptom of nerves, try gently biting your tongue to increase your saliva flow. Also, stage-fright is a great hunger killer, but it is important to eat: go for complex, easily digestible carbohydrates such as rice or pasta.
If you’re singing a song by yourself, a good ploy is to use the opening line to raise a series of questions that will help distract you from the task at hand.
Remind yourself why you perform in the first place. Think about how good you can be, about how much pleasure you could be giving to others. Try to remember times when you received compliments for a performance that you gave. And of course there’s the old cliche of closing your eyes and imagining the audience in their underwear – it really can work! However, make sure security of the venue is such that closing your eyes for few seconds would not make it possible for a fan to jump on stage in case you have to react as fast as possible.
If these techniques don’t work, you may consider visiting a hypnotherapist or psychotherapist, who are trained to deal with mental blockages. Stage-fright is usually triggered by something we are able to control, but it can sometimes take a trained expert to identify what might have caused our uncertainty.