Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Everyone knows to an extent the feeling of stage fright. That is to have anxiety about performing in front of others. Whether we experienced this through giving presentations to our class, to clients or other workmates, or performing in a musical or theater group, these experiences always involve us having to share something to others in an especially designated place and time. First, I would say that to think of it as a performance is misleading to begin with, since this suggests that the meaning of that which you offer to the group is derived from their judgements of how well you do and not from your own authentic expression. Of course it matters whether you do well or not, but what determines that is not your awareness of their judgments, but rather a keen attunement to what makes you solid in your own expression. Besides practice, practice, practice, and organizing yourself well, the key ingredient to “performing” well in front of others is completely and fully accepting yourself as well as all possible outcomes including negative ones. This is hard to do but is a practice you can soon master. After you have complete acceptance you can move on with just having fun with it, going from your natural, authentic expression of yourself, feeling at home with yourself in front of everyone by feeling at home with each individual in the group, and finally, loving the audience and serving them through your presentation.
It is no secret to those who perform through various artistic mediums that there is a palpable energy feedback loop between the performer and the audience. The performer offers her energy to the audience in genuine, honest love and service to them. The audience responds to this gift and reciprocates through giving their attention and their love, and maybe some applause and hoots and hollers. Yes its true that people's performances can be disliked by the audience, but that should not be your only reason for performing; others approval. In addition, if you give your heart to the audience, even if you sound bad or mess up, they will appreciate it whether they think they do or not. The deep heart is always honest and true to any other deep heart, and whatever is given will be felt.
I am myself a musician and have been performing in front of people since I was in middle school. What has always stuck with me is that my joy for giving to others and my confidence in my craft trumped and stage fright I might have. Even today I still have stage fright, but instead of being an energy that is suppressive, that takes my wits and petrifies me, I allow the energy to flow through me, which makes me a channel for that energy's fruition. That energy becomes fuel for the fire I make on stage. And that energy is none other than my audiences attention and potential for growth through listening to me. I simply channel it back to them, in service.
The love that is in your art or your work is the love that grounds you in any presentation. If you can feel the reason why you love the song you wrote, or why a work presentation is meaningful to you, then you can ground yourself in your heart and work from that space. By knowing the reason you love your craft, you let that be what the presentation is about. That is honest, true, and also loud and easy in you. People will hide what they think of you, so if you ground yourself in that you will be ungrounded. But you know your own heart, and you know what and why you love what you do or at least find it meaningful, which is a basis that is grounded in something solid in you, the truth. That love is the ground from which all of your expression on stage finds its purpose. May you come to know how to overcome stage fright, that you might see that the same energy that makes you afraid is the energy that will fuel the fire of your greatest accomplishment, for others sake as well as your own.