Ty wrote to us on the Magic Combo's post asking about how to deal with stage fright. I've heard lots of advice on this subject and most of it is not very good. Never imagine your audience without their clothes on! It can be very distracting. But here are a few tips that helped me. And just to prove that I needed/used each of them, I've included some photos.
I am a strong proponent of getting as much experience as possible. It's like learning a new sleight: at first it's really hard and awkward, but after doing it ten katrillion times your muscle-memory kicks in and you don't even need to think about it anymore. Performance is just another skill that you learn and the better at it you become the less stage fright you will feel.
Me and my muse writing hilarious patter.
Get Your Patter Down
Having a plan is really important. Know your patter and know your tricks. If you spend time on stage stammering or trying to remember what comes next, you're going to start doubting yourself and that's the exact opposite of what you want. Knowing your stuff will help you control your nerves.
Me in a production of As You Like It.
Take a Theater Class
This is going to work your performance muscle like nothing else. It's going to get you in front of people and teach you to play a character, which can also be used to battle stage fright. It will also teach you to memorize lines which will help with patter.
Brian and I fanning cards and being confidentBe Over-Confident
This isn't a trait that you want to have all the time (it's kind of annoying) but when you're performing, it can be a helpful tool. Playing the role of someone that is "all that and then some" puts you in charge. Nothing can go wrong, and if it does, who cares? You're awesome, right?
Me performing with my improv team, The ObustersTake A Class in Improv
You might be thinking: what's the difference between this and taking a theater class? A theater class will help with patter; improvisation will help with audience control. You'll learn how to read and react to your audience. I don't think anything has helped me with stage fright more than joining an improv troupe.
All of these things have helped me, but I'm always interested in hearing what has helped others. If you've mustered up the courage to feel the heat of the limelight: what helped you? What tips would you give those who have yet to face an audience? Who knows, your advice might just help someone!