You know how it is: you're happily singing away to yourself, belting it out and really expressing your emotions... then you hear someone moving around in another room. You thought you were alone and now you're horrified. You wish the ground would open up beneath you, or that you had a memory-erasing tool - just like the Men in Black.
Or - worse, you're singing your heart out to your favourite track and someone walks into the room. You were absolutely fine, knowing that they were in another part of the house, but now you're nose-to-nose with them and you want to run and hide.
The other scenario is when you're enjoying yourself with your friends or family and someone pipes up "Sing us a song!". Even those of us who love singing don't always feel ready to sing. So what can you do in these situations to alleviate the awkwardness and keep everyone happy - especially yourself?
Singing in front of others doesn't come easy to everyone. Even experienced singers can feel suddenly nervous. We fear judgment, pressure to put on a flawless performance, and unsure about others will perceive our voice. This discomfort can invoke the fight, flight or freeze response, leaving us feeling choked up, with our voice stuck in our throat. While this is a perfectly natural response, we don't want the fear of judgement to control our reactions - especially when we love singing as much as we do. When we understand and deal with the underlying causes of these fears, we can overcome them and embrace the joy of singing with confidence. In this article we will delve into why singing can feel so embarrassing when you're caught off-guard, how you can overcome your nerves, boost your self-assurance and how you can be ready to sing on-the-spot when someone inevitably asks you to.
Let's be honest, no one wants you to feel uneasy when you're singing. Well, no decent person does. Singing is supposed to be a pleasurable activity. When we sing, we release endorphins, the hormones that uplift us and make us feel happy. So why does it feel so uncomfortable to sing when others are around? And what can we do about it?
I've put together my five top tips for overcoming nerves and singing to an audience.
1. Recognize and Address Your Nerves: It's natural to feel nervous before singing in front of others. However, instead of viewing nerves as a negative phenomenon, try reframing them as a sign that you care about your performance. Acknowledge your nerves, take deep breaths, and remind yourself that these feelings are temporary. Embrace the adrenaline rush as a source of excitement and energy that can enhance your performance rather than hinder it.
2. Challenge Negative Inner Talk: The inner voice that whispers doubts and insecurities can sabotage our confidence on stage. Instead of focusing on what might go wrong, shift your inner talk towards positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your talent, hard work, and the passion you have for singing. Replace self-critical thoughts with encouraging statements that build confidence and affirm your abilities.
3. Embrace the Audience and the Elephant in the Room: Be honest about feeling nervous, then you can shift your focus from yourself to the audience. This can be transformational as a performer. Remember that the people in the audience want you to succeed. They are rooting for you and are eager to experience your talent, so take the opportunity to embrace their positive energy and allow it to give fuel to your performance. Remember that even if a small group of individuals never seem to compliment you, their opinions do not define your worth as an artist.
In social situations where you're asked to sing out of the blue:
4. Be Prepared: If you do want to sing and fell nervous, being unsure about what to sing can add to your feeling nervous. Create a repertoire of songs that resonate with you and showcase your vocal range and style. Always have 2-3 "go-to" songs that you know inside-out, that show off what you can do and practice until you know them inside-out. This way you won't feel flustered about what to sing and whether you'll remember the lyrics. You'll present as more professional as well as being adaptable to different surroundings.
5. Say No: If you really don't want to sing, say No. I've learned how to make a joke of it while making it clear that I won't be singing, if that's how I feel. If you prefer to say "I really don't feel like it, today", you're well within your rights and decent people will respect you. You don't have to sing every time someone asks you to, you're not a performing monkey. And the people who tell you that you should have probably never sung to an audience before, or have little experience of doing so. Of course if you're in the company of people in the industry who could help you, it's s good idea to sing. But if you're just hanging out, say No, if you really don't want to sing.
BONUS TIP: Limit the length of time you sing for. In these situations, most people will switch off after a minute or so, anyway. Set your boundaries and leave them wanting more.
Singing in front of others with confidence is a journey that requires self-reflection, practice, and a shift in mindset. By addressing common challenges such as feeling choked up, experiencing voice blockage, dealing with nerves and performance anxiety, managing negative inner talk, acknowledging the emotional exposure of singing, and being unsure of what to sing, you can overcome these hurdles. Remember to shift your focus to the supportive audience, embrace your emotions, and prepare a repertoire that showcases your talent. With perseverance and a belief in yourself, you can step onto that stage with newfound confidence, ready to share your voice
We feel more confident when we practice regularly and a schedule can work wonders for new and returning singers. The free 30 Days of Singing Starter Pack will help you get on track with your singing and includes:
FREE 30 Days of Singing Cheat Sheet
5 FREE Singing Tutorials
FREE interactive Ebook Accelerate Your Singing