6 Ways to Calm Your Performance Jitters and Anxiety
Being on camera, on a stage or in front of an audience can immediately lead to feelings of nervousness, stress or intimidation. Here are six ways to calm your performance jitters and anxiety if you’re going to be on camera or on stage speaking to an audience.
When you get nervous, stressed or anxious your body tends to tense up. A few simple yoga stretches can help release that tight feeling. If you get the jitters and feel as if your heart is racing before you go on set or on stage, then breathe deeply and shake out your body. I know it sounds silly, but it usually helps. Swing your arms, roll your shoulders, do a little jump or march in place with some high knees. You’re just trying to release some of that excess adrenaline.
You’ve likely heard or read "just breathe" hundreds of times. You may have even heard your Pilates or Cross Fit instructor say it this morning. Breathing helps. Taking deep breaths can help lower your heart rate, help you relax and decrease how much of the stress hormone cortisol is released into your body.
Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as "relaxing breath." It involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
Visualizing your performance from beginning to end prior to your performance can leave you feeling more relaxed and empowered. The key to a successful performance also comes from research. If you’re going to be a guest on a show, watch the show ahead of time so you know what the studio looks like and get a sense of how the host or anchors interact with guests. If you’re giving a speech, learn about the space, the staging, and the attendees. The more you know the more control you have of your situation.
Don’t just read the script, your speech or the company’s messaging - say them out loud. Speaking out loud can help turn what’s on paper into a conversational message. You may realize that what is written doesn’t sound natural when said so with some pre-planned practice and rehearsal you’ll have time to turn give it your own tone. You can determine what words or phrases should carry the most weight when speaking, how to add inflection in your voice and perhaps when it’s worth it to add the slightest pause.
A simple way to practice while standing in front of a mirror. You can see your face and your body movements. I also suggest talking to a spouse, a partner, or even calling a friend to go over your notes, script and messaging.
Plan what you want to wear ahead of time. Don’t leave it to the last minute to decide what you want to wear on camera whether it’s for the media, an audition or hosting. I always suggest coming up with a few ideal on-camera options that involve rich colors. Certain colors can evoke a sense of authority, trust, approachability, and even friendliness and youth. And I will always suggest skipping all black.
Most likely your on-camera interview, audition, speech or hosting gig will happen outside of your home or office. Look up the location ahead time using Google maps, or the Waze app. Input your arrival time and the apps can help figure out when you should leave; then leave 15 minutes earlier than that to account for traffic or parking. If you happen to arrive earlier than planned, then you can always practice again in the quiet of your car or speak quietly while you walk.
Alison Deyette is a TV host, brand spokesperson, and media training/on-camera coach. She has helped CEOs, executives, on-air personalities, athletes, experts and a long list of Fortune 500 companies develop and express their messaging and content for television, web series, social media, corporate video, public speaking, and presentations. As your media trainer and on-camera coach, she’ll help to transform you into a powerful, confident, and focused speaker or personality. She is the regular lifestyle expert for The Kelly Clarkson Show, KTLA Los Angeles, Inside Edition, Extra, Access Hollywood, Today and regularly works with brands on HSN, QVC and other networks.