Positive Thinking: Never Assume Hostility
Posted by Anni M.
Over the past few months, I’ve talked about a wide variety of tips and tricks for a successful performance: From outlining your talk to using the right kind of images; from stage presence to pacing; and from clever costuming to building self-confidence. A performance is a dynamic event. Its success depends as much on the audience as it does on the performer, though a good performer can charm even the staunchest of unenthusiastic attendees. Today I’d like to talk about something obvious, though it is easily (and often) overlooked: positivity. Positivity is that ephemeral quality that helps a good performer transcend his words, the audience, even the message, to captivate and entertain.
It’s easy to assume the world is out to get you. I know whenever I have to get up on stage, I always fear the worst. I imagine myself tripping on the way up the stairs, flubbing my words, or blanking on my big finish. I have nightmares about the audience turning on me, a zombie mob hungry for brains. Of course, these are not productive thoughts. I know that. I realize I would be a lot better off if I could banish them from my mind, but it’s not always so easy. I have learned that visualization can really help, and I’ve found the more often I’m called on to speak in front of crowds, the less fatalistic I feel beforehand.
Visualization has helped me conquer some of my negativity. The night before a presentation, I lie down in a dark room and close my eyes. By the night before I’ve practiced enough to know large parts of my presentation by heart. I walk myself through it, focusing on the words, my presence, and my delivery. I imagine the audience laughing at my jokes, nodding in approval at my salient arguments, and clapping uproariously at the big finish. It may sound silly, but by focusing as hard as I can on this positive version of events, I banish the negative thoughts from my mind. Whenever they resurface, I recall the scene: calm assurance, confidence, and success. If you’re having trouble visualizing positively on your own, hire a positivity coach to walk you through it. Performing well is an intensely mental game. Sometimes it takes some extra help to learn the basics.
Look at this from the other side for a moment. Assuming your audience is hostile sets you up for failure. If you expect to fail, you probably will. On the other hand, if you assume they are open-minded, attentive, and excited about what you have to say, you set yourself up for success. Positivity is a powerful thing. If you can harness it, control it, and call upon it when the chips are down, you’ll have a gang-buster tool in your arsenal.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..