You take your first steps into the brightly lit stage. Your palms go clammy and your back starts to sweat. You walk up to the microphone and try to look calm as you survey the crowd, but as you raise your hands to greet the crowd, you open your mouth you realise that your hands are shaking, as well as your voice.
Nobody wants to be held back when it’s their big moment to shine – but what if the person preventing you from performing is….you? Stage fright is also known as performance anxiety and it can affect just about anyone, whether it’s during a talk, a gig, or a performance.
We spoke to some leading women in music about how they overcome stage fright, so next time you feel those stomach-churning nerves coming on, you can keep them at bay.
Talk yourself up
Janelle Mitchell (also known by her stage name as Jay Dolce) is a DJ who hails from London. She’s gone from practising in her bedroom to landing gigs at internationally renowned clubs in just two years (read her DJ career story here). But of course, she still gets nervous sometimes.
Before she walks out on stage, Janelle likes to remind herself of her greatness to keep calm. “I like to talk to myself and give myself positive affirmations and say that I have a right to be there, that I’ve practiced, that I’m a good DJ” she says. “If you’re nervous, just tell yourself positive things all the time and it can really help.”
Janelle also advises not “thinking about it all too much”, she likes to focus on the enjoyment aspect of things, rather than the nerves. “When I did my set at KOKO club in Camden, I was buzzing to get on stage…I wasn’t nervous at all. I had adrenaline that kept me going. Life starts when you leave your comfort zone!”
Don’t let the nerves overcome you
Alice Olivia is a singer-songwriter who has performed at the Isle of Wight Festival and indigo at The O2. With a huge social media following (Alice Olivia started on YouTube and one of her videos has been viewed over 10 million times!) she’s used to crowds of varying sizes. But she employs a few techniques to ensure she’s always focused.
She told us: “Always make sure you never ever, pull out of a performance because you feel anxious, otherwise you’ll feel anxious every time you do it. Never let it stop you doing anything. The biggest regrets I have are where I didn’t do a performance. I’d also advise booking a load of events close together, ‘cos by the third gig you’ll be fine. And it’s always worse when you haven’t got something for six weeks and you build it up in your head.”
Adopt some stress-busting techniques
Loretta Andrews has been in several bands, worked as a backing singer and is currently an artist manager and radio presenter. She’s performed all over the world, and knows a thing or two about beating stage anxiety. She told us she adopts three different techniques for nerves, depending on the crowd and setting.
“I’ve been told to think of performing songs in three circles” she explains. “The first circle is as if you’re singing to yourself; imagine a tight circle close to you, in that setting it’s fine to close your eyes. And if you’re in a second circle, that’s more like a school or small gig, your eye line would need to be looking out a bit more. When I’m performing in a second circle setting I pick one person in the audience and focus on them – looking just above their head – no eyeballing them!
“And that third circle is more like you’re performing in an arena… so you can just look towards the back of the crowd.” Loretta tells us that performing to school kids in their assembly is much tougher than performing to a sold-out area in the States – “kids are a tough crowd!” she tells us.
With tips like the ones above, though, we’re sure we’ll never get nervous again (hopefully).
Like this? How about…