I remember the first time I performed at an open mic like it was yesterday. Perhaps because I continue to have the same sort of nerve wracking, knee-shaking, near-death pre-performance jitters as the first time I went on and performed.
I’ve come across an unfortunate number of poets who stay far away from an open mic because of their stage fright but the truth of the matter is even some of the most confident performers can, and do suffer from stage fright!
Over the past year in my performance poetry journey I’ve been on the constant lookout for tips and tricks that can help me with my fright and this is what I’ve found to be helpful so far.
1. PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT
It’s important to be well versed with your piece. Familiarity will only give way to confidence and confidence is key! It can be quite daunting to address a room full of eager ears and self-doubt only makes the knees shake harder.
Practice your piece in a mirror, empty room, or anywhere you feel comfortable. Not only does this aid in memorising, but also allows you to become more comfortable with reciting your words and any physical actions you may want to include in your performance.
2. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Quite often, I tend to come down very hard on myself before a performance. My thoughts turn negative and self-deprecating very quickly and I find myself in a state of lost faith.
When you do find yourself in such a situation, don’t hesitate to excuse yourself for a minute or two. Step outside for some fresh air, take a sip of some water and count to10 as you take slow, deep breaths.
Several performers have small routines that they like to practice before they go on, these could include breathing exercises, voice modulation exercises, mouth exercises and so on and so forth. As a performer, you have to find what works best for you througha process of trial and error.
Try and figure out common problems you have during performances and find exercises to combat the same. For example, do you tend to stumble over your words and slur alot? Are you very fidgety? Does mouth seem to dry up right before you go on?
Try to zero in on your specific ‘problem areas’ and look for suitable solutions that allow for a more comfortable, easy going performance.
3. ASK AROUND
It is important to remember that you are not alone! Plenty of people experience the same kind of jitters as you do! Take advantage of this common fear.
Seek advice from your friends and peers.Share your own experiences and learn from theirs too! There’s so much you can learn even from a bad experience but thebiggest, most important lesson from it all is that you will survive! And that you get to try it all over again at the next open mic!
If you have any helpful suggestions of your own, don’t forget to leave them in the comments below and share this article with a friend or performer you may know who struggles with stage fright!
– Imaan Surve