X Factor’s Janet Devlin suffered every singer’s worse nightmare when on live TV and in front of millions she forgot the words to her song. The 16 year-old reportedly blamed ‘something I ate’ explaining she felt as if she were going to throw up. But while it might well have been a bug, it wasn’t first time amnesia for Janet. Earlier this month during a version of the Jackson 5 song I want you back, she forgot the words then.
And she isn’t alone in having a ‘feeling ill’ experience on stage. One Direction’s Harry Styles has revealed when he first began performing on X Factor, he got so queasy he was sick before and after performances.
In fact, it appears as if both performers were suffering from an attack of stage fright – also known as a panic attack – and is probably where the phrase ‘sick with nerves’ comes from.
You don’t have to be performing on a stage either to have an attack. Unfortunately, stage fright can happen to anyone and often hits at a time when it is incredibly important to be seen at our best.
Feeling nauseous and losing your words can happen during an interview when you dry up, during a presentation or an important pitch or during any sort of public speaking. It is likely most TV presenters can recall at least once when it’s happened to them.
So what can you do to avoid stage fright?
* Firstly prepare. Practice makes perfect – practice until you really do know your piece off by heart. If you are making a speech, take some notes in with you just in case – you are unlikely to need them but it will give you confidence to have them with you. If possible visit the scene to familiarise yourself properly.
* Physically relax. Don’t eat anything unusual beforehand or skip a meal due to nerves. Before any sort of public performance – be it on the stage, or while doing a pitch to a client – take deep breaths to lower your heart rate.
* Get a handle on nerves. Put this into perspective. You are not going into a life or death battle. If something goes wrong, you won’t die – ultimately, nothing will happen.
* Enjoy yourself. If you’re on TV, it might well be your five minutes of fame so go on in the frame of mind to have a good time. If you are doing a big pitch to a client, relish the experience.
* Finally if the worse happens it might not spell disaster after all. Even if you do muck up people are often very forgiving – sometimes a calamity can endear you to your audience. Ultimately, the more interviews or pitches or speeches you do, the more confident and expert you will become. And don’t let one bad experience put you off. One Direction’s Harry Styles clearly overcame his nerves and the rest as they say is history…