microphone on stage


Almost everyone who has had to appear before an audience at sometime has suffered from performance anxiety.  That audience may be one person - in the bedroom or hundreds of people in an auditorium or on a sports field for example.

Experienced actors and  successful business and sports people have had to deal with the sweaty palms, dizziness and butterflies. In extreme cases you voice may may become inaudible or  be sound loud and shrill or your mind goes blank.  Performance anxiety is actually an acute anxiety attack, which can be controlled with practice and determination. Some people never entirely lose the fear, but you can learn to control it and even to use it to your advantage.


When you master your fear, you gain not only the ability to appear before an audience but also a feeling of self-confidence which carries over into other areas of your life. Don't put yourself down for being afraid. Your fear is realistic and justified. You should think about your audience in a positive way. Some helpful tips follow:

  • Prepare thoroughly - the best insurance against failure is preparation. Go over your material, be sure of your facts, and don't be afraid to express your feelings about your subject. If you care deeply about what you are saying or doing or playing or singing, you won’t have time to be self-critical. Ask yourself why this performance or presentation is important to you and why you want to communicate effectively to your audience.

  • Speak about things you know about, if you are sure of your facts and convictions, even if you are momentarily confused, you can regain your composure. If you make a mistake, just  admit it but don't dwell on it – after all, everyone makes mistakes.  A supportive audience can do a great deal to lessen your panic. 

  • Think about how to who you are presenting and how you'll present your material, and to whom they are addressing themselves. Practice, practice, practice - the better prepared you are, the more quickly you will be able to overcome your fear and the symptoms which accompany it.

  • Plan ahead - decide what you are going to wear, something comfortable that conveys the image that you want to convey. If possible check out the place where you will appear so you feel physically at home there. Look at the empty seats and imagine people in them. Imagine those people being friendly and attentive.  

  • Smile and look confident, even if you don’t feel it. You can admit that they are suffering from performance anxiety - many famous people do, but never put yourself down. People may sympathize with your nervousness, but remember that they came to hear you talk, sing, perform. 

  • Calm yourself by taking long deep breaths - regular breathing has a soothing effect, and the extra oxygen will help their muscles to relax. 

  • Look at the people in the audience and find someone who is listening and seems to be agreeing with or even enjoying what they are saying - eye contact with another person will help to ease your tension. 

  • Be natural, you will be most effective if you are comfortable with yourself.  Genuineness and sincerity are still greatly admired qualities.

  • Look on the experience as an adventure, an opportunity for learning and growth.