How to Sing with Confidence

Tips to Get past Stage Fright & Become a Bold Singer

A life in the spotlight. It’s a dream for many, but also one that so many people fear.

The mere thought of singing in front of others can cause nervousness and performance anxiety to set in. But it doesn’t need to be this way!

In this article, we’re going to explore how you can overcome stage fright and sing with confidence – no matter what your skill level is or whether or not you have any experience performing live before.

Why Does Stage Fright Plague Me?!?

Have you ever noticed how it’s easy to sing in front of your dog or in the car, but just the thought of singing in front of an audience makes you feel nervous? Why? What’s the big difference?


The difference is that there are people listening in the audience. Others observing your performance puts you in a place where there’s more at stake. Now, if you mess up, others might judge you or worse – make fun of you. At least this is what we tell ourselves.

This fear is very real, and in a way, evolutionarily engrained in us. If the people in our tribe don’t like us, we’re less likely to survive.

At the same point in time, our minds often make this a much bigger deal than necessary. Ironically, when the symptoms of stage fright show up – nerves, self doubt, tight throat, trembling hands, etc. – it makes us less likely to have a good performance.

So overcoming stage fright is a must. I’ll break it down into 3 phases – preparation, right before the performance, and then the performance itself.

Phase 1 - Preparation Builds Confidence

In many ways, you pave the way for your performing success beforehand. That success is earned by making smart choices, as well as dedicated practice and preparation.

When you know what to expect so well that it’s habit, you can still battle through even if you’re nervous or filled with stage fright.

Side note – It’s easy to glance at the ideas below and write them off as obvious, but I beg you – DO NOT SKIP THIS. Preparation is so important to feel comfortable and I promise you’ll benefit from at least one of the ideas below.

Ok, let’s get to it! Here are a few things that I’ve used for over a decade as a voice teacher that have helped my clients perform confidently on stage.

Find a Song that Makes Your Voice Shine

While it sounds obvious, I also can’t tell you how many people try to perform songs that just aren’t a good fit for their voice for one reason or another.

Finding a song that you can not only connect with, but also perform well is an art. It can take some time to find the right song.

Sometimes you may need to adjust the song slightly to fit your voice better. This could be by changing a key or adjusting the melody line in a particularly high or low place. Regardless, this preparation time is well worth it so you feel confident and comfortable on stage.

You also want to keep in mind how long you have to prepare. If you’re performing tomorrow, you want to choose something you’re already familiar with. If you have a month or two, you might choose something that’s a bit more difficult, but within your reach with practice.

Choosing the right song can take some practice. So if you’re struggling, it can be helpful to enlist the help of a good vocal coach. It’ll likely save you a bunch of time.

Practice and Be Ready

Ok, so now that you’ve chosen a song that will make you shine – you’ve got to put in the work.

I’d argue to overcome stage fright, your goal should be to sing the song solidly and in the same way every time. You want the song to be so locked into muscle memory that it is second nature. This way you don’t have to think about it as much on stage.

You also want to make sure that you practice it with the music – aka instrumental track or live piano accompaniment. Nothing throws a singer off more than singing to an unfamiliar instrumental track.

No two tracks are the same. Entrances, keys, and tempos can vary wildly between tracks. This means you won’t know what to expect, which only creates more stress.

So pick your track ahead of time and practice the song until until you can nail it consistently. Then, practice it a bunch more! This will help you know what to expect and prevent you from being thrown off when weird things happen.

Ok, so now that we’ve got the singing part down, it’s time to plan your performance.

Plan Your Performance & Visualize Your Success

Performing in front of others is different than singing in your car or shower. So when it comes to getting ready for a performance, I have a rule:

Practice like you perform, and perform like you practice.

When I first started performing, I’d drill a song relentlessly. I’d know the song, the track, and I even staged out the entire performance so I knew what I was do with my body when I was on stage.

Why do all this? Partly because I wasn’t a natural performer. I was awkward and kind of just wanted to hide behind the microphone stand.

Sure, I had confidence issues. But staging the performance helped give me a plan, and therefore made me more comfortable.

I also did this because I was so nervous my entire body would shake and I’d forget everything the moment I stepped on stage!

Luckily, practicing my performance consistently helped me turn it over to muscle memory. So when I stepped on stage, I didn’t think – I just acted. I connected with the music, and did my best to get that feel across to my audience.

If I were thinking about lyrics, staging, or anything else, I’d be thrown off and get stuck in my head. But preparing ahead of time prevented this.

Ok, now that we understand a few ways to prepare to prevent stage fright, let’s chat a bit about what to do before your performance to get you ready.

Phase 2 - Calming Performance Anxiety Before Singing in Front of Others

I think everyone would agree – performance anxiety and stage fright just plain suck. They make something that otherwise is fun and enjoyable feel unbearable.

Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to calm those emotions so that we feel less anxious and have a more positive performance experience. Let’s dive into a few of those.

Moderate the Mental Chatter

It’s not uncommon to feel really nervous for a period of time before going on stage. This uneasy feeling can easily snowball with unmoderated negative talk from our inner critic.

The people that suffer the worst from stage fright often a cycling the wrong thoughts. “What if I forget my lyrics? I hope I don’t crack on the high note! Dang that person was good – why am I even here? I should have practiced more – I’m totally unprepared!”

Sound familiar? This type of inner chatter brings down your energy, makes you more fearful, and overall crushes the fun the performance. So how can we adjust this?

We have to be a good moderator and stop this type of inner chatter. It’s almost always not even true, and it definitely doesn’t help you put on an awesome performance for others, which is why you’re performing in the first place!

So, do the best that you can to quiet that voice, and replace it with something that helps boost your performance. Keep reading for more ideas of how to do that.

Words of Power

Before each performance, I want you to choose 3 words – 3 things that you want to be. They can be anything, really. But should be qualities that you’d like to step into while performing this song. There are you “I am” statements.

The words you choose are up to you, but they should be words that if you embodied them, would raise your energy and just plain feel good. Some examples include – Bold, Confident, Powerful, Playful, Sassy, Love, Charming, Fun, Commanding, a Star, etc.

You can replace that negative chatter by affirming these words of power over and over – I am Bold! I am a Star! I am Fun!

Don’t just say this in your mind or out loud, really feel what you’re saying in your body. Keep doing this until you’ve raised your overall energy and state, and you’ll be ready to perform!

This is so much more than an empty pep talk. It helps you focus on a role to step into. An identity to embody to help you shine.

Speaking of shine, let’s move onto the next technique you can use to overcome stage fright.

Visualize Your Ideal Performance

Another good trick that helps you overcome stage fright is visualizing the performance going exactly the way you want it to.

I used to like to do this when I arrived and got a feel for where I’d be performing. Once I saw the stage, the lighting, and the audience, I could create a more real environment in my head.

I’d relax with my eyes closed, then imagine myself walking out on stage. I’d grab the mic, hear my track start playing, and the spotlight would turn on as I began to sing. I’d see myself doing my staging, watching the audience enjoy the performance.

I’d imagine myself feeling confident and embodying my words of power throughout the performance. I’d watch the audience reach how I wanted, smiling or clapping along to the beat. I may even work in a standing ovation during the high note in the bridge.

I’d hear myself singing the song perfectly, and doing my staging well too. And then, at the end of the song, I’d bow to thunderous applause and then walk off stage.

I’d sometimes do this two or three times. And you know why? Because it works!

The subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between mental rehearsal and actual performing. This gave my mind repetition, as well as an idea of what to expect. Helping me feel more comfortable.

If you find yourself wondering an idea like this really could work, ask yourself why they put astronauts in simulators. It’s a way to prepare them for the real thing. That’s what visualization does for you too, and it’ll help you overcome stage fright.

Redirect Nervous Energy into Excitement & Anticipation

Before you start to perform, you’ll likely start feeling quite a bit of nervous energy in your body.

It may manifest as rapid breathing or a racing pulse. Maybe there’s an unsteadiness in your voice. Sweaty palms. A dry mouth. Basically, just overall anxious feelings.

This is nothing more than symptoms of fight or flight reaction, which is natural when we face something that’s stressful or frightening.

But what if we could use that nervous energy for good? What if we could turn that negative respond our brain created into a positive? That’s exactly what I’m proposing.

When you start to feel those anxious feelings, start talking to yourself in a positive manner. Get excited about the performance. Take control of the mind, talk yourself up, and use this energy flowing through your veins to pump you up!

Performers need to be larger than life. This takes an enormous amount of energy. So when you think about it, your brain is really doing you a favor by giving you all this energy – you just have to learn how to control and direct it.

At the same time, you may find yourself too overcome with energy and need to calm down. Keep reading for ideas on how to do that.

When in Doubt, Take Slow, Deep Breaths

Sounds so simple, right? But taking a deep breath or 10 will help you relax when you feel anxious. It also gives you something positive to focus on. You can turn this into a meditation as well.

Slowly breathe in calm… then breathe out worry. Breathe in ease… breathe out tension. Breathe in confidence, breathe out nerves.

Make sure as you take your deep breath, that you do so slowly. Then, make the exhale longer than the inhale. As you breathe deep in the body, make it a point to release tension in the shoulders, face, and chest.

Just allow yourself to be. This is a good time to start visualizing your performance going the way you want it as you speak your words of empowerment.

As you continue your deep breathing and continue to focus on these other techniques for overcoming stage fright, your performance anxiety starts to melt away and you’re ready to step out in front of the crowd.

Phase 3 - Be Bold

Time to Do the Thing!

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From this point on, your job is to focus on connecting with the song and giving the people a show. And, of course no matter what happens, the show must go on.

With any luck, your performance prep and pre-stage ritual should help carry you through your song with ease. Worst case scenario, they made you feel less stage fright than you would have otherwise.

But I do have one more tip for you – one more technique that you can use that I guarantee will help you get rid of stage fright all together over time. I call it the hardest, easy way to overcome stage fright.

The Hardest Easy Way to Overcome Stage Fright

Great title, isn’t it 🙂 …ok, ok… let’s get to it.

Here’s something a lot of people don’t consider – Confidence is situational. We may be a great singer around our best friend or our cast members, but put us in a group of strangers and that could change quite a bit.

Once I had a few weeks of consistent performances under my belt, I’d much rather perform for a crowd of hundreds of strangers than 1-3 friends whose opinions I actually cared about.

Some people feel comfortable performing in a group, but not solo. Some people feel comfortable performing at home, but not at church or on stage. It makes sense – confidence is situational.

That said, one thing is certain. The more you do something, the more you become confident in it.

It’s the act of doing that helps bring that thing into your comfort zone. I think it’s only through doing that some of us realize that making mistakes is inevitable and not the end of the world.

So the hardest easy way to get over stage fright is simple perform more. The more you do it, the more you face your fear, the easier it becomes.

As the old proverb states – Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered. And lo, no one was there.

The more you confront your fear, the less you’ll feel anxious and the more you’ll be able to relax and shine in front of an audience.

Summary for Overcoming Stage Fright & Singing with Confidence

Now it’s time to deal with your own stage fright.

To do that, you need to…

  • be prepared
  • use some of the mental tricks to build yourself up
  • keep doing it.

Practice doing these things consistently and you’ll go far!

I hope this helps!!!

~ Vocal Coach Ken Taylor

Quick FAQ

Quick answer, one performance at a time. We become confident by doing.

It definitely did for me. The more I became confident as a performer, the more that extended into other areas of my life.

Absolutely! Performance anxiety for public speaking is basically identical to that of a singer.

I used to hate it, but now I love speaking publicly (assuming I’m prepared, of course). Though I will admit, most people don’t take up singing just to get better at public speaking.

Shyness is often a symptom from feeling uncertain.

Relax, breathe, and start focusing on your words of power. Give yourself a pep talk. Imagine your perfect performance, free from nerves and worry.

See yourself being Bold! Start trying to incorporate this feeling into your speech, and really step into this newer, bolder you.

No one else can do it for you. The only way is to start believing in yourself and do it.

That said, I know you can do it because I did too. Keep at it!