How to beat stage fright with beta blockers

A couple of weeks ago I went to an event at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. There were well over 1000 people there and the person hosting the evening did a great job.

He looked dapper, his voice carried well and he clearly knew his subject. He was,however, scared out of his wits. Reading from a book at one point, I could see it shaking violently  from my cheap seat high in the gods.

I could tell that his brain was fuzzy with nerves as he tripped over some of his questions, and I wondered if, I, finely tuned to nervous ticks, was the only one fixated and full of horror about this awkward situation playing out on stage.

I heard the people sitting next to me comment about his overwhelming stage fright and I wanted to hurl the packet of beta blockers nestled in my bag onto the stage to end his pain.

You see if you were to meet me in real life and tell me that you were anxious about an up coming work presentation/job interview/best man speech/  breakup ,then I would hold you close and gently press a little orange pill into your clammy paw.

That’s not true, I probably  wouldn’t give you drugs not prescribed for you, but I would strongly urge you to make an appointment with your GP toot sweet to get yourself a batch of beta blockers.

That’s right, beta blockers. Heart drugs. The stuff that the doctor gives you when you have anxiety, angina and other ticker related ailments.

Sounds a bit strong for  pesky stage fright? That’s what I thought too. Last year I had a presentation with a room full of men in suits in my calendar and it was giving me the serious fear.

A family member suggested I go to the doctor and ask for beta blockers as they would stop the panic, making me look more sassy marketing person and less sweaty, quivering person.

Could a beta blocker really be the answer? Could it cure my hand shaking as I take a sip of water? Could it eliminate the freaky way my neck used to jar in interviews as I lifted the glass? Would my voice be steady? My belly not full of a swarm of butterflies?

I got straight on Google and there was heaps of stuff from high flying  executives claiming they wouldn’t have the job that they do now, were it not for discovering beta blockers, to stage performers that need a steady hand for playing the flute.

Imagine I’d known about these magic pills  during my teens and twenties when I was a ball of anxiety and needed to get a decent job and give presentations? I could be queen of the world by now!

I wasn’t sure how my GP would react to my request for beta blockers and so I laid it out, I said I used to be pretty anxious but I got hypnotised and am now mainly at peace. I do however hate public speaking and it’s a part of my job so help a sister out please.

Without batting an eye lid, my GP said that she takes them herself for things like presentations and how many did I want.

Being an anxious person I was obviously terrified about taking a pill to quell my anxiety and I did a test run at work. My colleague was told that if I fell off my perch, the drug I had taken was Propanolol.

I was absolutely fine and cool as a cucumber. That’s not strictly true, I do get a little hot and sticky as a side affect but that’s quite common apparently, although my friends who also take them  don’t report any undue sweats, lucky them.

So the big event.. the presentation. One hour before I was up, I popped my little pill and waited for the fear to envelope my body. It didn’t. I gave my presentation with a normal voice and even picked up a glass of water to test my nerves – not shaky at all.

Since them I’ve wheeled them out for big meetings, job interviews and presentations and they work every time.

A happy side affect is that you end up needing them less and less. I think they build your confidence up and change the negative cycle of thinking so that you stop associating these events with nerves. Eventually,  even without a little orange pill, you can hold your own in stressful situations.

Obviously you need more than a pill when giving a presentation or going to a job interview – the content has to be good and you need to know your stuff, but by pressing the brake on your pesky adrenaline it allows you and your talent to shine on through.

How they work, according to the internet:

Beta blockers, also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, are medications that reduce your blood pressure.

Beta blockers work by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. When you take beta blockers, your heart beats more slowly and with less force, thereby reducing blood pressure.

What do you think? Would you take a beta blocker to ease your stage fright?

Here’s to chilled out vibes and acing presentations bitches xxx





  1. March 18, 2017 / 6:32 am

    I miss beta blockers. I used to take them for migraines, and obviously the quelling anxiety side effects were a good scene – but the last time I took some, when my migraines returned with a vengeance recently, I got so tired it really wasn’t worth it.

    I’m glad they have had such a positive impact on your life!

    Lis/ last year’s girl x

    • March 19, 2017 / 7:19 pm

      Oh that’s a shame, I don’t notice the tiredness, perhaps because I’m naturally very tired. I was talking to a doctor about them the other day and he said he couldn’t run for a bus while talking then. Different strokes for different folks it seems xx

Leave a Reply