Staving Off Stage Fright: Tips for the Publically Timid

Picture this: you’ve been writing for years, perhaps even got involved with theater in high school, but when the moment comes for you to clamber onto a stage and share your work you begin to sweat. It’s something personal, something private; even your closest friends don’t know this one. There’s feedback on the mic, you begin to mumble. You shake, rattle, and have to crawl off stage from the fear of probable rolling.

We’ve all been there…right?

Well, for those less graceful and poised than myself when it comes to the art of performance prose and poetry, here are some simple tips to soothe while public speaking.


Don’t be ashamed to have the piece handy

Now, I’m pretty sure practicing is a no-brainer, but even when the mirror and your cat could recite it back to you perfectly, an audience can throw you off. Don’t be afraid to have the piece ready for reference. Just make sure to glance up periodically to show the audience you’re still with them.

Re-write to perform

Much like drafting the piece, itself, pacing of a performance piece can influence the reading. If you notice that you seem to be stumbling over a section, or timing isn’t on your side with a scene, re-write a draft that’s meant to be performed. Make it sloppy, make it grammatically incorrect, make it what it needs to be to get that pacing down to a T. It’ll be your little secret.

Don’t be hard on yourself

Remember that this isn’t life or death. Breathe and you will get through it. When you focus on the mistakes the performance’s tone will be altered along with your mood and the two will tumble around each other in a negative cycle. Learn from every performance you make and use that to add to your next.

Treat Yo’self

Going off that last one, the little things can do wonders. Dress for the confidence you want, have a nice meal and a drink, you’ve earned it. Endorphins make you happy, and happy people read like champs.


Most of the time, open mics or slams are filled with a multitude of peers. They get it. Talk to them, and remind yourself that they are friends here to support and endorse your creativity.

Did these help? Have any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!

For upcoming slams in the Omaha area in August check out the Petry Menu and make sure to watch for events on the Nebraska Writer’s Collective  Facebook; as well as keeping an eye on news from 13th Floor, of course.

Keep calm and create on, writers!




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