Stage fright– it’s the worst, right? You’re fine when you’re home alone, DJ’ing in your bedroom, but even the thought of standing in front of a crowd petrifies you. And when you actually get behind the decks, it’s 100 times worse. But what can you do?
I can’t promise to cure you of your social anxiety, but let me share some things that have worked for me, and helped DJs I’ve mentored.
For starters, and perhaps most importantly of all, realize that no one at the show wants to see you fail. People go out to have fun. Have you ever heard anyone say “hey, let’s go out and see if we can have a terrible night at a place with a bad DJ?” That’s been said no times ever. The people in the room with you want you to succeed, and they are rooting for you. No one is staring at you hoping you will suck.
Sure, you say, that’s all fine and well, but just because they want me to succeed doesn’t mean I’m any less afraid to fail. That’s true. The next thing to realize is that you are more likely to make mistakes if you are worried about making them. Nervousness leads to errors. So your next trick is to learn not to be nervous. I’ll tell you how I did it, and maybe you can do it, too.
When I played my first paid DJ gig I was all of 14 years old. A babe in the woods. A mere scrap of a man. A waif, if you will. I was, like most 14-year-olds, shy and self-conscious, and scared to speak in front of a crowd. I had agreed to DJ the party without thinking through what was involved, and when I realized I’d have to stand in front of a room full of people, and sometimes talk to them on a microphone, I was suddenly regretting my promise to play. At the same time, I wanted to do it– and I wanted the $50 I was promised– so I pondered my options. An idea came to me.
I’d been in a couple school plays in grade school, and though I was a little nervous beforehand, I wasn’t too worried because I was playing a role. Everything I had to say was planned out ahead of time, and I’d memorized all the lines. It was not so much me up there as it was the character I was playing, and somehow that made a difference. I decided to try to capture some of that concept and repurpose it for DJ’ing.
I decided that once the party started, I was not going to be a shy, unpopular, 14-year-old freshman who preferred reading books to going to parties. Instead I was going to play a role. I was playing the part of an outgoing, fun, gregarious party-goer. I was playing the role of someone confident who loved talking on a microphone, and was at his best in a crowd. And you know what? It worked. And after awhile, I didn’t have to play a role when I DJ’ed, as I naturally became a more confident and outgoing person.
This may seem impossible to you now, as you sit and read this, but trust me and try it. The next time you have to DJ in front of an audience, tell yourself ahead of time that you aren’t you that night, you are you acting like a different you. You will thank you (and me) for it later.
Good luck! Let us know in the comments if this worked for you!