Know your material well
Whether you’re giving a speech or playing a few songs at an open mike, practice until you wake up in the middle of the night mumbling your presentation. Practice everything – even what you say between songs. If you freeze up in the middle of your performance your muscle memory will kick in. I’ve had times where I freaked out, looked at my hands and they were still moving into the right chord shapes, like an alien had taken over.
Visualize your performance
Sit or lay in a relaxed pose. Close your eyes and picture how the performance will go. Imagine walking up to the stage – what does the floor feel like under your feet? What sounds do you hear – your footsteps, the crowd? Then think about standing in front of the mike and smiling. Imagine how your hands feel on the strings or keys. Go through the entire show with you hitting every right note and word, visualizing smiling faces, tapping feet and enthusiastic applause.
Check out the venue beforehand
Walk out on the stage. Stand at the podium. Stroll around and really get a sense of the place.
Make sure you have everything you need
Insure that you have your instrument(s), music, stands, water – whatever you need. Make sure the sheet music or notes are large and readable. If you’re outdoors, have a way to clip the music on the stand.
Wear comfortable clothing
Don’t pick this time to wear those new designer shoes. Wear clothing that you know you feel and look good wearing. Don’t wear something you’ll be tempted to fiddle with like a tie or a bra with straps that tend to slide.
Take care of yourself that day
Don’t plan too much. Take a relaxing bath. Send the kids to Grandma’s. Allow yourself plenty of time to get there.
Just before walking on stage close your eyes and take some calming breaths. Remind yourself to breathe when you’re out there.
Know that everyone is your friend
On the whole, audiences want you to do well. Don’t think of them as stern and hard-to-please. Think of them as people who love you and want you to excel.
Focus on positive looking audience members
Don’t look at the one in the crowd with the crossed arms who looks like they’d rather be getting a root canal. Look at the people who have an open and relaxed posture. In noisier venues I focus on the people in the front rows – generally they’re more engaged.
Now go out and enjoy yourself!
Did you find this post helpful? Please consider keeping me in coffee and my cats in kibble. And it’s only $2.
Knowing your instrument well will help you with stage fright. If you live in Ottawa, ON and you’d like lessons on guitar, mandolin or ukulele, contact me.