Domain Buddy on Public Speaking and Performing
Without doubt the most difficult public speaking experience for me was in 1994 when I talked to a room full of potential investors at Telehouse, first with the aim of persuading them to invest in my new telecoms business, and then again six months later with the different aim of supporting me in a Boardroom battle.
Public speaking is not easy: firstly, there is no-one else on the stage or at the lectern or microphone, and one is aware that all the attention is directed towards you, and what you have to say, and how you say it. For the most part, audiences are friendly and want you to succeed, but this can be difficult to appreciate if you are new to Public Speaking.
Some time in the ’70s or ’80s I had enrolled in a course designed to teach the basics of Public Speaking, and within the course, given by a professional speaker, I learnt several valuable lessons which were important later on in life. And naturally, during the course, one was expected to give a number of speeches on different subjects to other “students”.
Acting is most closely related to Public Speaking where a monologue is delivered – or put simply, there is only you to take the attention of the audience. When you are part of a group of actors involved in a scene together, or part of a musical band or group, it is a little easier on the nerves. Some people thrive on the attention of being the focus for an audience, but most, including myself, are more comfortable within a team and with colleagues close at hand!
Solo musical performances are also a challenge, particularly when – as in my case – it involved both singing and playing the guitar at one of the “open mics”. This leads to two possible disaster scenarios, which are either forgetting the lyrics, or forgetting the chord sequences and the musical score. In my case, I have trouble remembering the lryics in just about any song, but as any musician will tell you, you just have to cover your mistake and carry on – which can be easier said than done!
Is there a Solution to Performance Nerves?
I think that performance nerves are natural and to be expected. As a performer, you should possibly be more worried if you do not have them!
To reduce performance nerves when acting, I always tried to make sure that I was as confident as possible before “taking to the stage”. This involved preparation – for example, with acting, I would make sure that I knew the entire play and would memorise the “lines” and go through the scenes in my head every night before sleeping. Only when I was confident that I knew the script “inside out ” could I then concentrate on other important facets of any Play, which would include “stage positioning” and the Director’s specific requirements for my role.
For any music performance, my experience is that there was nothing better than practice, even when that practice takes place shortly before any performance.
Alcohol And one final piece of advice I am happy to pass on – do not take refuge in alcohol in the mistaken belief that this will “help”. In my experience, it never did! Save the celebratory drink for after the performance!