You’ve been waiting for this opportunity for so long; the stage, the camera, the lights and the crowd. But then, at the worst possible time, you’re hit with doubt, fear, sweat and an overwhelming desire to run away as fast as you possibly can. Then what? What do you do? And even more importantly, how to you make sure no one else picks up on your fear? The truth is, stage fright is just another form of performance anxiety and the root of performance anxiety is a fear of failure or rejection. And if you’re going to make it in this career or any that involves getting up in front of people, you need to deal with that fear and the confidence will follow.
So what do you do when stage fright hits?
#1. Don’t take it as a sign that it’s ‘not your thing’. Keep getting on stage. Keep getting behind the camera. Running from what you love because you hit a few obstacles is not the action that makes your dreams come true.
#2. Face that fear of rejection you’re running from. Understand, that it’s nothing to be embarrassed or frustrated about; it’s pretty common. We all carry that weakness around with us in some way or another. In fact, some very successful actors have a strong fear of rejection. It's what they do with it that matters most. It's a large force of energy. Where will you direct it?
#3. Learn to direct that bubbling energy toward your success. Practice performing in way that will impresses even yourself. Create small goals and small areas of focus that you can easily be victorious with and celebrate. One example is to try focusing on your breath. Decide for yourself that you are going to think of your normal tasks but mainly focus on your breath. Make sure it’s where it needs to be. Even if you are doing an intense scene, your breathe will need to be deep and full or rapid and hot, but either way - the breath will be present and you can choose to focus on it.
#4. Imagine something different. This is something you can practice at home.Set time aside to visualize the performance you’d like to succeed at. Close your eyes and get into an emotional space of excitement. Draw up a memory where you felt overjoyed, excited and proud. Allow that to overcome you as you emotionally relive the experience. Now see yourself walking up to that stage or to the camera and think of how fun your job is. (visualize how easy it is to focus on your breath) See the other actors responding readily to your character. See the audience in silent anticipation of your presence. They came to experience you. Just them sitting there, waiting, is a gift to you and their way of saying 'thank you' for sharing your talent of storytelling.
Of course, there are always more tips I could share, but I know you’re busy. If you’d really like to learn more, I’d encourage you to check out the classes and offerings we have at the New York Acting School for Film and Television. Your dreams matter and it’s important that as you discover your blocks and challenges that you face them with proper education, dedication and the support you need to succeed.