Stage Fright: How to Perform as If You Aren't Actually Terrified

Published by 
Singers Corner Team
Last updated: 
February 6, 2024

It's amazing how many famous performers suffer from a nervous condition called stage fright. You wouldn't think that hardened veterans of the stage and screen could feel so frightened before a performance, but they do.

Artists such as Adele, Van Halen, and Rhianna suffer from stage fright before they sing live, so if you suffer from anxiety before you perform, you're not in bad company.

What Is Stage Fright?

The fear of performing in public may stop you in your tracks. When you consider that stage fright may affect three out of four people, you have to wonder how many talented singers never see their careers blossom.

Stage fright is a common communication-based anxiety disorder that occurs when you need to perform or speak in public. The condition results in a person experiencing physiological excitement, negative feelings, or specific behavioral responses to the actual or expected act of public speaking.

Picture this. You are about to sing in front of an audience. You feel ill, and you may feel nauseous. Perhaps you break out in a cold sweat or start to tremble uncontrollably. Even worse, your voice may freeze up entirely, and you find yourself unable to perform. If you recognize these symptoms, then you suffer from stage fright.


Stage fright represents a form of severe anxiety, and health care professionals consider it a type of social anxiety disorder. The condition heightens feelings of stress and panic and may result in a rapid heartbeat. Furthermore, you may experience accelerated breathing or shortness of breath. Likewise, some extreme sufferers hold their breath.

What Causes Stage Fright?

Stage fright affects all manner of people from performers, public speakers, students attending exams, and athletes. Consequently, performing artists feel the condition most profoundly because an audience is constantly evaluating them.

The fear of others judging you forms one of the most potent causes of the anxiety condition. Are you good enough? Will your audience like you? Will you do well in your exams? Feelings of inadequacy and failure often lead to crippling anxiety attacks and could lead to the task's failure because of the self-defeating attitude.

One mistake too many

If you make one mistake during a performance, that may set off a whole avalanche of negative emotions and self-defeating thoughts. Consequently, that one mistake may lead you to believe the entire event a failure.

Assuming the worst

If you think an audience doesn't like you before you begin, your negative thoughts may lead to stage fright. Considering the worst of every situation makes you assume the worst, setting up a spiral of negativity that may negatively impact your performance.

Perhaps you wanted the lead in a musical, but the director cast you in a supporting role. Consequently, you may assume you're not good enough when, in fact, you prove the perfect choice for that particular role.

The power of exaggeration

Any mishap may transform into a catastrophe in your mind and lead to stage fright. Perhaps the run-through didn't go to plan, or a failure with a microphone made you nervous. This may lead to feelings of stress, tremors, muscle tension, and nausea.

When you suffer from stage fright, the slightest thing, big or small, may set you off, so it remains vital to understand the causes and avoid exaggerating any perceived problems or failures.

Doubting your talent

Most performers experience moments when they doubt their abilities. Most actors and singers don't watch their performances back for fear of finding fault because artists tend to be their own worst critics. However, doubting your ability causes anxiety, and this leads to stage fright.

Self-doubt places your mindset into a dark place and leads to spiraling mood swings, resulting in you fulfilling your self-prophesy of failure. Confidence plays a significant role in an artist's ability to perform, and the lack of self-worth and confidence leads to stage fright.

We All Suffer From Stage Fright

At some point or another, we all suffer from various levels of stage fright. For instance, I have attended a few author signing events that involved public speaking, and the thought of standing up before an audience and talking always fills me with absolute terror. The condition leads me to feel nauseous and tongue-tied, and I feel my heartbeat increase and my hands become sweaty and clammy.

Many of us attend business meetings as part of our everyday work activities. A lack of personal confidence leads to stage fright in the board room, especially if we have to give a presentation. Consequently, the condition affects many people to varying degrees, and not just artists and performers. It remains vital that we recognize the possibilities of stage fright and the symptoms to combat the condition better.

How to Overcome Stage Fright When Singing

As you step out onto the stage, you see a sea of people before you. Suddenly, your throat constricts, and you feel faint. Sweat breaks out across your forehead and hands, and your heart beats out its own song inside your chest. However, you need to sing because the audience paid good money to hear you. What do you do?

Understanding stage fright and the causes of the condition help you to combat your anxiety. Many books exist to explain stage fright and offer remedies, and sometimes, taking the time to read about the condition and fully understand the why's and how's helps you defeat it.

Some homeopathic remedies exist which may help you alleviate apprehension and fear. The homeopathic solutions use diluted, natural substances to relieve stress, and if you suffer from stage fright, the remedies may help.

However, you may perform some simple steps to help you overcome your anxiety and give the performance of your life.

Breathing exercises

Before you step onto the stage, take some time to perform some deep breathing exercises to help you relax. Slowly breathe in for four counts and out for four counts, breathing through your nose.

Focusing on your breath helps to relax you, and the counting may help take your mind off going on the stage.

Caffeine fix

You may feel like a caffeine fix before you go on stage, but caffeine drinks increase your heart rate and may make you feel more anxious and agitated. High energy drinks, salty products, and sugar have a detrimental effect on your nervous system and heart rate, and avoiding them may help keep your body in sync with the moment.

Always prepare

Anxiety, leading to stage fright, may derive from a fear of forgetting your lyrics. The old saying of practice makes perfect may never seem so relevant as you learn your songs. So, knowing the lyrics and practicing before a performance improves your confidence significantly.

However, mistakes happen. If you forget a line or mess up a verse, don't let that little mistake put you off. The show must go on, and an audience won't hang you for getting the odd line mixed up.


A positive mindset puts you in the right frame of mind. Thinking you may fail leads to a dark mood which may adversely affect your performance. Bad moods and negative thinking lead to anxiety, doubts, and stage fright.

Be confident. Tell yourself that you can and will perform to the best of your abilities. Take pride in your ability and understand that you can sing. If you believe in yourself, then your audience may believe in you. Self-confidence radiates from a performer, and if you feel confident, your audience feels that confidence and goes along with you for the ride.


Many artists and performers suffer from depression. Sometimes, artists spend so much time making other people happy that they forget to make themselves happy.

Stage fright may lead to a deep depression which often shatters a career. And those susceptible to depression may experience severe stage fright. The fear and panic that sets in before stepping out onto the stage lead to a phobia of performing, and when that sets in, it ruins careers.

If you suffer from depression or feel darkness hanging over your head, it often helps to seek guidance. Sometimes the ability to speak to a friend helps, or you may wish to seek professional help and therapy.

You don't need to feel ashamed or embarrassed about feeling depressed, and there is nothing wrong with seeking help. Take the time to think about yourself and your career and seek help when you need it.

Stage Fright Expelled

Most performers and public speakers deal with varying degrees of stage fright. Famous artists like Katy Perry and Barbara Streisand suffer from the disorder yet manage to have sparkling careers.

stage fright

If you recognize the symptoms and stage fright causes, you may combat and beat the anxiety disorder. If you feel nauseous and feverish before you sing, you may suffer from social anxiety syndrome. Using deep breathing exercises before you go on stage and ensuring you arrive fully prepared for the performance may help you overcome your fear.

Knowing that you suffer from stage fright is the first step in overcoming it. If necessary, seek professional help, especially if you find the condition ruining your career. Sing out, and sing proud because you know you can do it.

Sean Kerr lives in Cardiff, Wales, and is a published author with over 10 novels to his name so far and still counting. As well as writing his next bestseller, Sean also runs a successful jewelry-making business and sells his creations online.

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