MSF | ‘Onto the stage with a big smile!’
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‘Onto the stage with a big smile!’

Nervousness before going on stage is a challenge faced by many performers, and we each have our own ways of dealing with it. Over time, you can develop your unique and perfect way of dealing with the stress.

Here are a few ideas from a member of Bath’s Next Stage Youth to help you remain as calm as possible before your time to shine.

Plus some expert advice from the Mid-Somerset Speech and Drama Committee.

1. Breathe

This tip sounds obvious, but it does ring true. Focusing on your breathing provides a grounding distraction and keeps your mind from wandering too quickly or worriedly.

Slowing down your breathing keeps you steady, controls the pace, and supports your voice. It also prevents a feeling of light-headedness or dizziness.

2. Humanise the audience

At times when you feel too under-pressure, it’s important to remember that the audience are no less normal than you are, and you shouldn’t feel too intimidated by them. If you put the people you are performing for on a pedestal, it will simultaneously make you feel more scared, as if they deserve an Oscar-worthy performance. Try to avoid this, even if they are adjudicators or examiners.

The performing experience is just as much for you as it is the audience, as it’s useful for learning, feedback and personal growth.

3. Stop obsessing

Before going on stage, its very easy to slip into a stressful and repetitive cycle of going over and over your lines, your dance, or the notes you’re about to play. Attempt to steer clear of doing this, as it drags you into an unhealthy and worried mindset. It can convince you that you won’t remember what you need to do.

In fact, you’re more likely to forget or make a mistake while you’re obsessing, due to the abundance of things happening around you and inside your head. Trust that you’ve rehearsed enough, and just go over the first few parts.

The rest will just flow.

4. Enjoy, don’t compare

Finally, if you’re at a festival or other competition, or even just waiting in the wings for a show, don’t compare your own performance to those of people before you. This will only increase your anxiety levels.

Distract yourself from your inner worries to appreciate and enjoy other people’s performances. They have most likely worked just as hard (or as little!) as you have.

by Miranda Webb


Direction from the Speech and Drama Committee – just before you perform!

Find the courage to give a big smile to everyone as you go on stage before a performance. They are then relaxed, and so should the performer be. Then take deep breaths and take time to begin.

Sandra McDowell

I was taught controlled breathing and ‘rag doll’ relaxation exercises!

Margaret Ledbury

If you feel nervous, imagine what is going on in nature at that very moment – the birds in your garden, your dog asleep on the sofa, giraffe strolling across the plain, whales gliding through the ocean…

    Rosemary McEwen

Take a moment to remember why you’re doing this, remember the work you’ve put into it, the wonder you felt when you realised you’d ‘got’ it – then go out and nail that performance.

Tina Gibson

Just before you perform, close your eyes, take 3 deep breaths in, then let the breaths out slowly. Walk onto the stage with a big smile – or in character – and enjoy your performance.

Jane Riekemann


Finally, an apt quotation from Alexi Pappas’ recent book Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas –

Nerves are cousin to excitement, and excitement is cousin to gratitude. Pay attention to your nerves: If you feel nervous, it’s a sign that a Very Big Thing is unfolding. Be nervous for how good that thing can be.

Good luck!

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

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