It’s OK to admit it. Sometimes we all get a little freaked out about performing in front of people. I guess you could say it’s just part of the gig.
Stage fright is much more common among performers than you might think. Barbra Streisand has such intense stage fright that her entire choreography is built around items she can hold on to as a coping mechanism; a railing, a chair, the cord of the mic, a hand to hold. Even through years of improvement, she rarely performs without a darkened theater, props close by or medication to help.
Amy Grant also suffers from extreme stage fright. From a young age, Amy started performing barefooted as a way to stay grounded and avoid feeling dizzy on stage.
Luckily that level of stage fright is less common than the nerves most of us feel. So if Babs can do it – so can we! Here are a few things that’ll take the edge off your stage fright:
Getting on stage without careful preparation is like choosing to swim in shark infested waters….
Seriously, why would you put yourself in a position to be torn to shreds?
Not completely preparing to perform is no less stupid. Invest the time in developing your vocal technique and styling with a good coach, get familiar with the genre and songs you want or need to perform and get some good instruction on what to do once you’re up there.
Knowing what you’re going to do and that you can actually DO it is more than half the battle when it comes to great performances.
Get Good at Making Mistakes
But….but…..good singers don’t make mistakes….right? Wrong.
GOOD singers are GREAT at making mistakes. SO great that you rarely even notice they’re making them. Plan ahead for all the mistakes you’ve made in the past or those you’ve seen others make and then make a plan for how you’ll recover. This simple step alone has kept very talented people from throwing in the towel altogether after a night of mishaps.
Get the Focus Off of Yourself
Not only is focusing on your audience instead of yourself good for distracting your brain from being focused on your nerves (which makes things worse); it’s also what you’re there to do!
You wouldn’t be asked to be on stage unless you were there to give something to your audience. Think about your song(s) and the kind of music you do. Is the goal to help them have a good time? Make them laugh? Rock? Cry with you on your sad, sad ballad?
Pick one face and pretend they’re your new best friend. When you see someone looking at you, look right back and connect with them. Look for it. Don’t hide from it.
When you put the focus on what you’re doing for your audience your brain won’t have nearly as much time to get hyper hooked on why the edge of your lip is quivering or if you really do look stupid in that outfit. Instead, you’ll be thinking, “Yay! I made that kid smile and that’s just what I wanted to do.”
You owe it to the people who take the time to listen to you to give them your attention. Do that and you may just forget about the things that freak you out on stage. And that beats ‘visualization’, ‘focus points’ and medication every time.
Get On Stage
Find every opportunity to build your comfort level in front of an audience. Don’t wait for that special night to highlight your unique talent. Take anything that you can do that involves a stage; community theater, singing backup in a friends’ band. Just get on stage.
Part of getting comfortable on stage is just having done it so many times that it becomes familiar. After a while a stage is just a stage. But take a long break and it might just become unbearable all over again. Don’t let that happen. Make it a habit to get in front of people whenever you can and you’ll find the nerves get smaller every time.…or at least every other time.
The more you follow these steps, the more you’ll find you enjoy being on stage. And the more you enjoy performing the more you can give your audience.
Share your thoughts about stage fright below!
I know football time has arrived when my normal quiet block erupts with the sounds of men yelling and hooting and occasionally tossing a small child in the air to celebrate the Seahawks latest touchdown.
It’s great to see your team winning. But what we don’t see is the months of strict diet restrictions, the carefully planned exercises regimes and the high tech medical machinery that charts just how much the body can take.
We also don’t see the endless hours the coach spends assessing strengths and carefully customizing a plan to utilize the best features of each player to get to the end goal. But we know it goes on behind the scenes.
Even the non-sports fan (represented by me – sorry honey) knows it takes training, great coaching and dedication to skill building to succeed in football. Yet when it comes to the goal of winning at an audition we tend to think it should be as simple as 1-pick a song, 2-sing a song, 3-win the audition. It’s not.
There’s a whole lot more going on behind the curtain of audition prep for the serious singer who doesn’t want to leave their chance of success to playing the odds.
Here are just a few of the things that comprise a serious audition plan.
5. Choose Your Audition Song Well
Your song selection can make or break your audition.
Not only do you need to pick a song appropriate for the audition, (ie. if it’s a musical theater audition you should choose a musical theater piece with few exceptions) but you also need to pick the right song to highlight the best things about your voice and sing it in the best key to make those good things look great.
4. Be Prepared – REALLY Prepared
There’s much more that goes into preparing a song for an audition than memorizing the notes and words. How will you make it your own and avoid sounding like a bad copy of the original singer?
How will you change the dynamics, the styling and maybe even the melody in parts to make it a version that captures their attention and makes them remember YOU?
Your preparation should move quickly from memorizing to personalizing. That’s where the bulk of your work needs to take place.
3. Leave All That Preparation at the Door
Once you choose your song, commit to it. If you’re really not sure, completely prepare two songs and choose the one that best represents what you bring to the table once you’ve completely prepared them both.
The worst thing you can do is waffle between songs and run out of time to fully develop any of the for your audition.
Because you can’t read the judges mind, you’ll never know which song would’ve been best. Every song is just a blank canvas for you to show your unique talent on. Focus your time and attention on what you’ll do with it instead of which canvas you chose.
2. Take Authority the Second You Start
It is not common (and in my opinion, not a great thing) to not be nervous to some extent in an audition. You may range from slightly unnerved to trembling and falling over, but either way this is true: you were given permission to stand and perform in front of these judges. They have given the stage to you for these few minutes; it belongs to you now. Control it – OWN IT, and show them what it looks like when you do what you do.
1. Live by the 24hr. Rule
This is the most important rule of singing live: when you’re done, you can ONLY think about what you did RIGHT for 24hr. hours. If nothing comes to mind you’ll have plenty of room to think about something else good in your life. DO NOT think about your next audition, your upcoming performance, etc.
During the first 24hr. hours your brain will mercilessly play back and exaggerate every possible mistake you made or even almost made. And allowing your mind to dwell on them does you HARM, not good.
So as hard as it is, choose something else to think of for the first 24hr. hours. After that (sometimes longer if you still can’t think of much good), try to unpack what you did well and what you can do better next time.
Taking this time to recap is only useful once you can be more subjective. And you’ll do much better next time if you make a plan logically, not driven by emotion.
Auditioning helps you grow in so many ways. Not just building nerves of steel and thicker skin (needed by anyone brave enough to sing in front of other people) but also the opportunity and deadline to try something new.
So get out there and do it!
**For more detailed tips to kill any audition, including a 2 page custom audition plan to give you the edge, check out the Killer Singing Audition Cheat Sheet in our store.