I've been a performer for over twenty years and have a lot of experience teaching others how to pursue their dreams on stage! There are two questions I am asked most frequently. The first is how to nail a perfect audition and the second is for tips on how to eliminate stage fright.
I would be lying if I said that even after all this time I still don't get a little nervous, but I have learned to embrace the butterflies and turn them into positive energy to fuel my performance. So, without further ado, here are the best tips to help with stage fright.
Familiarize Yourself with the Work
It's often difficult to remain focused when you feel crippled by the fear of performing. I highly recommend becoming familiar with your work to eliminate any chance of forgetting your next cue! I would also recommend that you take your training outside of your comfort zone, because we all have one or sometimes many! If you practice in your bedroom, try utilizing another room in your house. It's a small step towards getting out of the familiar and loosening yourself up to new potential. When I was a dancer, my teacher would often have us practice routines away from the mirror before we ever practiced on stage. It was an excellent trick to help us get out of relying on too many external factors to deliver a perfect performance!
Shift Your Thinking
There is a book floating around called "The Secret" and the premise is that thinking positive thoughts can make them come true. What the author is trying to illustrate is the concept of opening your mind to positive thinking, so you don't sabotage success before you've had a chance to get started. I like this idea in terms of tackling stage fright. We perform for a reason, and it's to provide value to our audience. So often I see individuals scare themselves into thinking of every possible thing that can wrong. Instead, try to replace that method of thinking with visions of all the ways it could go right. You can start by applying this concept to other areas of your life such as school and work!
Play Out the What-If's
I am a big fan of positive thinking. As I mentioned previously, positive thoughts can in your life lead to a much happier outlook! However, there are some who just can't focus on anything but the negative. Maybe their fear of missing a step, a note, or an entrance is too large for there to be any suitable replacement. If this is the case, then go ahead and play the "what if" game. I should note, this isn't something you should do just by yourself. Grab a friend or fellow cast mate and reveal to them all of your anxieties. I bet you anything; they will have some great answers to help you realize the worst case scenario really isn't that bad or most likely won't happen.
Style it Out
Another way to help with stage fright is learning how to "style it out." I love this term, and it's a great way to describe how to smooth over a mistake. If your fear revolves around the audience realizing you've made a mistake, practice ways to improvise around the issue. This could be in the form of an improv class. These classes are great at helping you think on your feet, and there is no "wrong" in improvisation. I bet if you do a quick Google search for "the best improvised moments in film" you will be surprised how many of your favorite films contained unscripted material that the actor had to throw in last minute to cover up a mistake!