Whether you’re getting ready to sing your heart out, act in a play at your local theatre, or show off your instrumental skills, there are a lot of good reasons you might feel nervous about getting on stage in front of an audience. Brooke Horan Williams is no stranger to performance anxiety, and being so familiar with it, has come up with a few tips to share with anyone else getting ready to impress a crowd.
First and foremost, Brooke Horan Williams’ most obvious tip for avoiding nerves on opening night: in the immortal words of Scar from The Lion King, “be prepared!” This should be a no-brainer for anyone who’s had to commit to a performance before. Memorize your lines, go over your material, practice, practice, practice. Even if you’re a musician following sheet music, you should be comfortable enough with your material that you know what’s coming next.
If you’re a true performer, aspiring or otherwise, then practicing will already be a major part of your life. Practice should be taking up most—if not all—of your free time. So, what should you do if you’ve already got your performance down pat, but still feel those nervous jitters at the thought of getting on stage? The old advice of picturing the audience in their underwear might be appealing, humorous imagery, but in Brooke Horan Williams’ opinion, it won’t help you out that much.
Try instead, Brooke Horan Williams suggests, any number of breathing exercises beforehand. Learn which ones work best for you, and stick with it as a sort of ritual before every performance. Most breathing exercises are designed to lower your heart rate, therefore forcing your body into a more relaxed state. However, Brooke Horan Williams warns, if your performance requires a certain degree of intensity, you may want to instead attempt to reroute that nervous energy into your performance, rather than mitigating it with calming exercises.
Brooke Horan Williams also suggests putting together a playlist of music that will positively impact your mood. You should custom-tailor the playlist depending on the sort of performance you’re going to be giving, and take some time to yourself with a pair of headphones as a form of meditation. Brooke Horan Williams advises that this is a great way to get in the zone!
Of course, if you’re going to be singing or acting, you’ll want to do some vocal warmups before getting on stage. Consistently practicing vocal warmups will help with your diction, projection, and overall confidence when delivering lines or singing for a crowd. Again, it all comes down to not underestimating the power of practice!
If you habitually feel nervous before, or even during, performances, try not to let it get you down, Brooke Horan Williams says. Being totally comfortable on stage isn’t an easy task to achieve, and it’s something that comes with time. Even some of the most seasoned performers get nerves about performing—the trick is in how you overcome those feelings in order to put on the best show you possibly can.