How To Combat Stage Fright (And Thrive!)

Author: Jordi Ronchetti


Musicians, athletes, public speakers, actors, and all the above. We may not all be cut from the same cloth, but we all know a thing or two about performing difficult tasks - all while in front of a live audience!

Concert Performance

The first thing to understand about stage fright is that it’s not trivial or simply in your head, but it’s a common reaction to stress also known as performance anxiety. It’s so common that just about all of us have experienced it to some degree, whether in the form of a slightly elevated heart rate, or clammy, shaking hands that aren’t working their true magic on the guitar like they did during rehearsals. There is no silver bullet for these and the many other unwanted aspects of stage fright, but let’s explore the many ways of keeping that anxiety bug at the door! 

 Diet. Are you wondering why you’re not feeling like the true performer you know you are after a steady diet of instant ramen and hot pockets? Do you see your event techs guzzling neon-green energy drinks and think drinking them will do right by you when it’s time to get on stage? Think again! What mom and dad said about eating fresh fruits and vegetables is true. Treat yourself from time to time, of course, but feed the body and the brain with a balanced diet. Be aware of how processed your food and beverages are, do your grocery shopping outside of 7/11, and feel the benefits mentally and physically.

Nice Food

Meditation. Before you start chanting mantras and jumping into lotus position, understand that there are many forms of meditation, and the positive effects can manifest both on stage and during the most ordinary of activities. A great place to start is mindfulness meditation, which revolves around observing and understanding the happenings of the body and the mind - the whole enchilada. Mindful breathing during performance is a big help, but so is not laying awake every night ruminating on life’s problems and losing precious Zs. The preferred method of meditation is up to you and your research, but for whatever method you chose, there is no pressure to get it “right” or reach enlightenment on week one. “Every moment of the day—indeed, every moment throughout one’s life—offers an opportunity to be relaxed and responsive or to suffer unnecessarily.” — Sam Harris, neuroscientist and philosopher.


Good On-Stage Practices. Diet and meditation are massively positive lifestyle changes to help with stage fright, but of course, it always helps to work on how you conduct yourself in the moments you’ve worked so hard for. First of all, ask yourself, “did I practice enough for the show?”. If the answer is no, practice some more. If the answer if yes, practice even more! We look at performers of all kinds and wonder why they make it look so easy. The truth is, even cold, clinical lawyers practice for hours in front of a mirror before the real thing. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, so run that rehearsal from the top and give yourself less to worry about on show day! Next, pay attention to what the other pros do to look so natural on stage. The good news is that not only does a good stage posture make you look more confident - it makes you feel more confident. Standing in one spot hunched over like Quasimodo and shoe-gazing will hurt both your confidence and your stage presence. Moving, grooving, and making eye-contact will do wonders. Look the part so you can really feel the part. 

Finally, as obvious as it may sound, be positive. Be proud of yourself and just imagine how much enjoyment your hard work can bring to the audience who went out and bought a ticket to see YOU. As easy as it is to doubt and question yourself, remember to ask yourself, “Does this benefit me in any way at all?”. Maybe some mild self-scrutiny will push you to make a better record in the studio, but throw the middle finger to any negative self-talk relating to your time on stage. Be you. Have fun! Everyone else sure is.