Everyone has their cryptonite. Mine is performing in front of an audience. I don’t feel that bad about it though, because most people feel this way. Sweaty palms, lack of breath, red face, shaky hands and an intensely beating heart are all traits I’m familiar with. It doesn’t just stop there. Some people – ah hem, me – also have to endure the awfulness of nervous laughter. Yes, I laugh when I’m upset. It makes for a lot of misunderstood and awkward situations.
November has been one of the toughest months for me all because I’ve had to come face-to-face with my greatest opponent more than once. First in Malaysia and then back home in Canada.
Malaysia Shaolin Kung Fu Conference
Earlier this month, I went to Malaysia to attend the Shaolin Kung Fu Conference. With the rest of my Canadian representatives, I took part in a demonstration to show the skill of the Canadian team. While I didn’t do terribly, I know I could have done better. A clearer mind and more practice could have benefited me. Needless to say, my performance was riddled with a number of small blunders. But instead of listing everything I did wrong, I’m going to focus on what I did well.
1. I tried
Usually when I hear “public performance”, I duck down, pull my hood up and beeline straight for the exit. But this time, I did it! I willingly performed in front of other, live human beings. I went up and did my best at performing in front of a large crowd. As cheesy as it sounds, I faced my fears.
2. Do better than before
I already know that I can do better, the hard part is actually proving that. My personal goal for every time I get up in front of others, is to do better than the time before. The last time I performed in front of a live audience, I gave a speech. All I’ll say about it is that it didn’t go well. No, nothing too traumatic happened. But it did leave me rolling my eyes at myself. Trust me, while my performance in Malaysia wasn’t worthy of an Oscar, it was one of my personal best in terms of performances.
I’m proud to announce that on Sunday, November 26, I passed the first two stages of Kung Fu. I did a double advancement test in front of all of the group’s black belt members. Although everyone there was a friend, I still felt nervous. All of them were watching me at once. All of their focus was on me when it was my turn. Three of my actual siblings were judging me. And one of the boys was making faces at me right at the start of my first form.
My personal success
Despite feeling my spirit slowly separate from my body, I have to say that I performed some of the forms better than I did in Malaysia. My two-person forms felt stronger, especially the staff.
I would like to get as much experience as I can performing in front of live audiences. Eventually, I will reach a point where I can do each form with confidence, precision and conviction. Whether I perform in front of one person or a thousand, soon it won’t matter. I won’t let stage fright get the best of me.
How to overcoming stage fright
1. Have faith in yourself
When it comes down to it, the only one you need to impress is yourself. How often has this been said before? While it carries some weight, in truth you still have to convince the judges. Needless to say, you still have to believe that you can do it. You’re frame of mind will have a huge impact on how you perform. If you don’t think you’ll do well, you probably won’t.
2. Have a positive attitude
Whether you do your best or not, win or lose, you should still maintain a positive attitude. It’ll make you feel a whole lot better. Instead of focusing on how you lost, use it as a step for setting a goal. Think instead of how next time you’ll do better.
3. Focus on yourself
Trust me, I know how distracting it is having so many people in a room staring at you. It feels like you can hear and feel everything, as if everything around you is being absorbed into your head. Calm down, it’s not. It’s just you. Don’t forget to breathe as you go through each step one at a time. Try to focus on your own movements using your breathing as your guide. I know this isn’t easy, I forget to do this all the time, but it’s a start.
4. Have a confident posture
I heard somewhere that if you make yourself look confident, then you’ll do better at fooling others even if you aren’t actually feeling confident. I admit, I haven’t actually tried this strategy yet, but I was reminded of it when I was thinking of ways to overcome my stage fright and decided to include it. I believe a confident posture means to hold yourself with good posture. Back straight, shoulders relaxed, head high, and so on. Doing this everywhere you go would be good practice for controlling the movement of your body.