Jay-Z describes his bizarre strategy for beating stage fright

Jay z concertStephen Lovekin/Getty‘I am so nervous right now … I’m going to act so tough that I’m going to hide it.’

Many, if not most, professionals suffer from a fear of public speaking, often resorting to deep breathing, picturing the audience in their underwear, or even prescription drugs.

Performer Jay-Z has his own creative strategy for dealing with stage fright.

The New Yorker recently cited a 2010 NPR interview in which Jay-Z tells host Terry Gross that when he’s scared on stage he tries to act tough… by grabbing his crotch.

This defence may have grown out of his initial inexperience on stage. Most hip-hop artists, Jay-Z says, start out with a hit record and little to no experience performing live.

“And then you throw this person on stage who has never been on stage before, you know, because the music leads. So they don’t have any experience on how to perform in front of people, hold the mic, you know, all these different things that you need to know as a performer.

“So when you get up there, you feel naked, right? So when you feel naked, what’s the first thing you do? You cover yourself.

“So that bravado is an act of, ‘I am so nervous right now, and I’m scared to death. I’m going to act so tough that I’m going to hide it. And I have to grab, you know, my crotch.’ That’s just what happens.”

It’s hard to imagine using the same technique while leading a Powerpoint presentation for your coworkers. (It’s even harder to imagine it working.)

Yet Jay-Z’s admission reminds us that even the most successful people suffer from performance anxiety. They have had to come up with creative ways of not only managing that terror, but making it look like they’re pumped to be up there.

Fortunately, there are mellower ways to mask your nervousness — like speaking slowly and maintaining eye contact. And of course, if you’re lacking confidence, there’s no harm in faking it.

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