5 Tips for Overcoming Stage Fright

A lot of people are scared of speaking in front of large groups. And that’s when you’re not even trying to get them to laugh. At one of the open mics I go to, a newer comedian asked me how I overcame being nervous on stage. (My hands used to shake while holding the mic and I would never pause after punch lines.)

Tip #1: There’s no real shortcut, getting over stage fright just comes with reps. The more you’re on stage, the less nervous you get. If you can get comfortable with complete silence (when neither you nor the audience is talking) you’ll be well on your way. 

Tip #2: Practice deep breathing for five minutes before getting on stage. Focusing on taking deep breaths helps calm the adrenaline and still the mind. Picturing your performancein your mind and hearing the laughs and pauses works well in conjunction with breathing, as long as you can remain positive. 

Tip #3: Read “The Inner Game of Tennisthis will help you with most of everything you do in life, not just getting comfortable on stage. The basic summary of the book is to turn off your conscious, questioning everything mind and to trust your subconscious. This book is basically about how to get in, and stay in, “the zone”. I highly recommend reading it even if you have no intention of getting on stage (or playing tennis). 

Tip #4: Use external mood alterers. A pro comic I know said he uses alcohol as his crutch and has been doing it for over 10 years. He mentioned that the first few times he did comedy he was sober and wasn’t funny, so he started drinking, felt more at ease and got funny. He said many pro comics he knows use alcohol, pot or cocaine to get into a good state of mind before getting on stage. I don’t recommend this strategy, as you never know when an entire state can run dry on coke. This tip may also be an issue if you’re overcoming stage fright to present at a work conference at 9am…

Tip #5: Channel the nervous energy in a positive way. Being nervous in and of itself isn’t bad, it’s what you do with the nervousness. There was a recent ESPN article about Tiger Woods who was quoted as saying, “The day I’m not nervous is the day I quit… Of course I’ll be nervous. That’s the greatest thing about it, just to feel that rush.” If the greatest golfer still gets nervous (and he doesn’t even have to speak!), it’s okay if you get feel it too. Just try to turn it into something you can use while speaking.

In conclusion, accept that you’re going to have some nerves. Acknowledge that it’s natural, know you’ve gotten through it before (unless it’s your first time on stage) and this should already make you less nervous. Then when the adrenaline occurs, either turn that nervousness into a positive, or do your best to ignore it.

Have additional questions on this or other topics? Click here to learn about my mentoring services.

Other Comedy Tips:

  • 10 Steps to Become a Great MC
  • 3 Tips To Planning A Successful Comedy Show
  • Are Any Topics Off Limits?
  • Barking Tips
  • Clayton Fletcher: Auditioning Q&A
  • Clayton’s 7 Tips
  • Clayton: When To Become A Full Time Comedian
  • Comedy Economics
  • Dealing With Hecklers
  • Eleven Observations About The Comedy Business
  • Five Basic Improv Techniques
  • Five Tips For Your Comedy Event To Run Smoothly
  • Free Comedy Content Economics
  • Hi-Tech Comedy Interviews
  • How To Make Money In Comedy
  • How To Put Together A Great College Comedy Show
  • How To Record Your Own Comedy Album
  • How To Self Publish A Book Through Kickstarter
  • Interview with John Vorhaus
  • Intro to Improv
  • My Comedy Mindset
  • My Writing Process
  • Not Connecting With The Audience?
  • Organizing Jokes
  • Overcoming Stage Fright
  • Producing a Show: Getting Audience
  • Producing a Show: Running The Show
  • Producing a Show: The Comics
  • Producing a Show: The Venue
  • Road Work Tips from Danny Browning
  • Stealing Jokes – Ben's Thoughts
  • Ten Tips To Succeed During a Check Spot
  • The 8 Different Types of Comedy Audiences
  • The Pecking Order
  • Treat It Like a Job
  • Types of Shows for Beginners
  • Types of Spots
  • What To Do When Nobody Laughs
  • Why I Won’t Be a Pro Snowboarder
  • Your First Stand Up Performance
  • 4 Replies to “5 Tips for Overcoming Stage Fright”

    1. Wasn’t it Seinfeld that said people’s main fear is public speaking, followed by death? So if they were at a funeral they’d rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy.

    2. Yeah that definitely sounds like a Jerry joke.

      I know they always have polls that speaking in public is one of American’s top fears. (Although this was before the current economic collapse…)

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *