Key Tips: How to Get Rid of Nerves Before a Performance 

Posted by Mike Schumacher

All performers have experienced some kind of stage fright before performing or being recorded. If there’s someone out there who has told you they’ve never felt stage fright, they’re probably not being completely honest with you. 

If you’ve been struggling with this sensation, a big question in your mind might be how to get rid of nerves before a performance. 

That wording is important here because this discussion isn’t about trying to eliminate these feelings entirely. For one, that’s not really possible. Also, there are certain fringe benefits of experiencing nerves before you go on stage. 

Instead, we’re going to talk to you about how you can reduce your nerves so that they don’t get in the way of performing to the best of your ability. 

After all, if you’ve made it to a performance, chances are good that you know what you’re doing and just need to concentrate on being present for the show, both in body and mind. 

We’ll go through multiple tips for calming your nerves, as well as some advice from a longtime performer. If you feel the need to remind yourself of these techniques, just come back to the page and have a quick refresher. 

Take a deep breath 

This phrase has definitely become a bit of a cliche through the decades, but there’s a lot of value in this very simple idea. 

Believe it or not, controlling your breathing can do wonders for your mental state, and best of all, it’s something that you can do at literally any time, in any place. 

The most basic breathing exercise possible is to take a long, deep inhale and very slowly exhale. If you repeat this pattern, your heart rate will calm and your anxieties will decrease. 

How to Get Rid of Nerves Before a Performance

Of course, beyond deep breaths, there are a number of more specific and detailed breathing exercises that are often specialized for different types of performers. 

For example, if you’re a vocalist, then you probably already know several breathing exercises designed to keep your lung capacity strong and allow you to project your voice. 

But if you find yourself freaking out before a big show, all you really need to do is breathe slowly and with purpose. Let your attention focus on just the breathing itself for a while. You can even try this right now. 

See how it makes you feel and keep this technique in your back pocket if you’re feeling worried before a performance. 

Practice and perfect 

Will your performance skills ever be completely perfect? No, that’s not a very realistic expectation, and striving for total perfection can be a lot more trouble than its worth. 

But it’s certainly possible to get to a point where you know all the different parts of a performance by heart and can execute each of them without a hitch. 

This is what practice is all about. Whether you’re a musician or a dancer or a gymnast, knowing what you need to do before you need to do it is crucial. 

If you’re in the process of practicing and you have a question about your technique or don’t know what to work on next, ask someone. It could be a fellow band member or a dance coach, but having outside opinions can be really useful when you’re still in the preparation stages prior to a performance. 

Focus on doing your part (advice from Pablo Landeta)

This tip comes from professional circus performer and dancer Pablo Landeta, who has proven his skills both on stage and in the air with incredible acrobatics. 

Landeta admits having feelings of stage fright, even after spending years training and performing. He shared with us what it felt like immediately before his first performance:

“Before even stepping on stage, all I could think of was the endless possibilities of what could go wrong, but that kind of mentality only makes stage fright worse.” 

Pablo Landeta

Pablo Landeta (above) during a performance.

Since then, Landeta has learned how to curb his nervous feelings and concentrating on the work he needs to do in the moment. 

Here’s Landeta’s advice for performers of all kinds who might be struggling with stage fright:

“Be confident in working with what you have. Don’t waste energy thinking of the whats ifs or what could go wrong. Instead, focus that energy on doing your part, and trust that your cast and crew are also doing the same. And finally, try to find a middle ground between stage fright and overconfidence. Both your mind and body must be present the moment you take that first step.”

If you stay present and focus on the right things, rather than illusions about what might happen, then you can rely on your skill and ability to carry you through a performance. 

Talk through your feelings 

Has this ever happened to you? You were worrying about something for a long time and got caught in your own head, following endless spirals of anxiety and concern.

But then you took a minute to talk with a friend. Maybe you didn’t even talk about your anxieties, you just had a conversation. Afterward, you probably felt at least a little bit better about the whole situation. 

This same basic approach can be extremely helpful for performers who have noticed that they struggle with severe stage fright on a regular basis. 

Sure, there might be an impulse to just power through those feelings and accept them as an inherent part of being a professional performer. 

But if those feelings are getting in the way of your work or your personal life, then it’s time to take a closer look and maybe even seek out the help of a therapist. 

How to Get Rid of Nerves Before a Performance

Even if you don’t want to go to that extent, just talking to a close friend or a family member about your worries and trying to articulate them is a great exercise. 

Not only will it give you the chance to vent some of your feelings, but it will also force you to articulate very specific concerns, which will give you the opportunity to get a better idea of what the real worries are. 

Take note and improve 

No matter what kind of performer you are, it can be extremely helpful to get some other opinions on your work. 

A great way to do this is to ask other people you’re performing with or a person who isn’t performing to pay close attention to your performance. That way, you can ask that person after each show how they think you did and where they think you could improve during future performances. 

An even simpler and more objective way to take note of your performances is to record each one and watch it back later. 

Dancers and comedians in particular often use this method to get a completely objective look at different performances. 

After going through the footage multiple times, the performer can then take notes on specific things they’d like to change, or, and this is just as important, appreciate all the things they did right. 

However you decide to get feedback on your performances, knowing exactly how you’re doing each time can help reduce your nerves the next time you’re getting ready to go out on stage. 

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