Tips for Coping With Stage Fright
1. If you want to talk (or sing, act, etc.), you have to breathe. And if you want to do these things calmly, you'll need to breathe diaphragmatically. This won't always come naturally, and you'll probably need to practice. You might think you already know everything there is to know about breathing, and if you're a professional singer you probably do. But everybody else, be sure to take a look at the breathing material.
2. Remind yourself that they're not here to see or hear you, unless you're a very famous person, or your mother's in the audience. They're just here to see the person who's playing this piece or talking about this topic. Today that happens to be you. That's not really important to them in most circumstances.
3. Expect, and accept, that you will feel anxious, especially at first. That's OK. If you allow yourself to work with the anxiety, not against it, you'll be able to calm down and proceed. If you resist the anxiety, you'll make more trouble for yourself.
4. Take the emotions and passion you feel for your subject or artistic expression and channel it into your performance. Don't try to "hold it down". If you try to suppress it, it will work against you. Express it!
5. Establish the right focus for your task. What do I mean by focus? I mean what you're paying attention to as you engage in your performance. This, unlike the other four tips above, will vary depending on what kind of performance you're engaged in.
* If you are giving a talk, your focus should be your material and the audience reaction to it, because your task is to inform or persuade them. You therefore want to be aware of how they are responding, so that you can connect with them in various ways.
*Establish contact with the audience through eye contact and talking directly to them. Ask them questions to get them involved in your talk (i.e., How many of you here have ever had this experience...?) While your natural instinct will probably be to avoid the audience as much as possible, just like the reviewer cited above, you will actually feel less anxiety once you get the audience involved with you.
*If your task is a performance art, your focus will be different. It's not your job to persuade or inform the audience. You want to perform a piece for their enjoyment. In this case, you can ignore the audience, and turn your focus to your music, or your character, and leave the audience to enjoy your performance on their own.
*Where you don't want your focus to be is on yourself and your anxiety. This is why it's so useful to develop an accepting attitude toward the anxiety, to take a few steps to calm yourself a little, and then shift your focus to the task at hand.