Performance Tips: Owning It
Posted by Anni M.
Nothing kills a performance faster than a performer who lacks confidence in her material. It may seem strange but the audience is as much a part of your confidence as you are. When you seem put together, strong, and in control, your audience feels that way too. But if you seem nervous, scattered, or out of control, your audience will emulate those emotions. It’s a positive feedback loop. You probably know this intuitively. Think about being at a performance, sitting in the crowd, watching a speaker take the stage. In your heart, you want to be entertained. You want her to succeed. Part of the reason you want her to do well is that, if she doesn’t, you’ll feel her pain. Empathy is an incredible thing. It allows two strangers to imagine each other’s feelings. It allows us to relate, across geographic boundaries or socioeconomic divides. It is a human truth that brings all people together. Empathy is hard at work in your audience. They imagine themselves standing at the podium. They imagine feeling nervous or excited, afraid or confident, and those imaginings translate directly into their experience of the performance.
This may sound frightening—a room full of telepathic judges may not sound like the ideal crowd—but it’s actually a great thing for a good performer. If you can appeal to that empathy by owning your performance—expressing genuine emotion, being believable, and exuding likeability—your audience will become your friends. Rather than fearing for you they will root for you. Getting an audience on your side in the first few minutes of a performance will set you up for a successful run. First impressions tend to stick around, even if you make a few mistakes along the way.
If you’re having some trouble owning your material, take stock of how you feel about what you’re saying. Ideally you should believe in your message, honestly, from the heart. The more you genuinely feel connected to what you’re presenting the better able you will be to channel that genuine feeling in your performance. If you just can’t manage to muster the feeling on your own, practice your acting. Actors don’t necessarily believe everything they’re saying but they’ve learned to inhabit the role of the believer.
There is nothing wrong with practicing a little role play. Imagine that you are a person who absolutely lives for your message. You can even create a whole imaginary life for that person. This is called method acting and it’s a great way to get comfortable with your material, comfortable enough to deliver your lines believably. Remember, your audience wants to believe in your performance! Let them.
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..