Day 91: How Joe Kowan conquered stage fright. His Ted talk explains it all.

Imagine being a would-be musician with stage fright? Well Joe Kowan didn’t have to imagine it, that was his reality for the longest time.  He would write songs and only play them for himself as he was too afraid to show the world, or his roommates who were in the next room! On the week of his 30’s birthday he decided to conquer his fear once and for all. In his Ted talk “How I beat stage fright” Joe shares with us exactly how he got over his fear and got on that stage.

Day 91- How Joe Kowan conquered stage fright. His Ted talk explains it all.

On the week of his thirtieth birthday Joe decided he couldn’t let stage fright dictate his life any more. Plucking up every ounce of courage he had, Joe went to an open open mic event. Now if this were a movie, maybe Joe would have beaten his stage fright there and then and maybe he would have even received a standing ovation, but this is real life. Joe’s  first experience as a solo singer-writer was a mess. His body gave way to a wavering voice and he starts to convulse with fear. The audience was uncomfortable and I’m guessing that Joe was mortified too.

Joe’s journey to becoming a musician didn’t end there. He forced himself to attend that open mic night every week until the stage fright dissolved. And… it didn’t happen, each week he felt the exact same way as he had on that first night, then he had an epiphany.

Ted Speaker Joe Kowan quote compiled by website confetti

Joe decided that rather to hide the stage fright he was going to embrace it and exploit it. He wrote a funny honest song about what happens to him when he is going through an anxiety episode. He says that this gave the audience the permission to think about what Joe was going through rather than sit there and be uncomfortable for him. Over time, he stopped playing The Stage Fright song, he no longer needed it.

Why this matters

I loved the honesty of Joe’s talk and the fact that he didn’t try to hide his stage fright, he owned that stage fright! It was a part of him, a process that he needed to go through, and by sharing that process with his audience, he gave them an insight into his world and formed a deeper connection with them.


I have stage fright. It can be so debilitating, so I have to say Joe’s talk gave me hope. Here’s this guy who had gut-wrenching stage fright and is now a folk-singer. Thanks Joe for giving the rest of us hope!

Vanessa Rose