Rehearsing (photo by Justin Hackworth)
Do you ever get nervous about public speaking or performing in front of an audience? What goes through a performer's mind on the day of a show? I'm sure it's different for everyone and varies by the type of performance. But I can tell you what I've learned about performing over the years and how to make it a good experience. Here are some pointers that I've come to live by as a performing musician:
1.) Harness your energy: It is completely normal to feel nervous about performing in any kind of setting. This is adrenaline and energy working within you and it's actually essential to a good performance. The trick is to harness this energy and use it in a positive way on stage. Remember that all forms of energy can morph into new forms of energy (remember high school Physics?). Don't make it wrong that you feel nervous. Merely observe the fact that you are having nervous feelings and let it be ok, knowing that you can use that energy in a positive way on stage.
2.) Protect your energy: There are a million things that need to be tended to on the day of a show. You need to delegate as many of those things as possible to other people so that you can preserve your energy for your performance. The more people you invite into your life on the day of a show, the more drained you will feel. If you are the main performer, when possible, make sure there is a private place for you backstage to change and collect your thoughts before your show. Have a manager or someone you trust guard this space with their life. Create a custom greeting for your voicemail in the morning that tells callers you will be unavailable, instructing them to call a manager if they need to get a hold of you. Only answer calls from that one manager throughout the day.
3.) When on stage, thou shalt not think: I think I first heard this phrase from renowned performance coach, Tom Jackson. Don't ever let yourself think about what you're doing on stage. Somehow, when you are consciously thinking about your performance, your audience will immediately become aware of it and you will too. This is when second-guessing and insecurities can take over in front of your crowd. Thou shalt not think when thou art performing! Trust your muscle memory, and just let go. When you can master this, it will feel amazing and any slip-ups that happen become endearing to your audience because when you are relaxed, they are relaxed.
4.) Meet and Greet AFTER the show: If you have a meet and greet time with your fans, I recommend doing this after your performance. Why? Again, you must protect your energy before the show and if you have to run to a meet and greet and then run back to get changed backstage, it will feel stressful. Also, there is a level of mystery between your fans and you that makes you exciting to them. I think it's better to allow that sense of mystery and excitement to remain until after the show is over. Then you will have had this really cool experience of sharing music with them and they will be even more eager to meet you.
5.) Eat healthy foods: This is pretty self explanatory. You want to feel good on the day of your show and the way you feel will translate to your audience. If you don't eat well, you won't feel well. The end.
6.) You are the faucet, not the water: One of my coaches, Trina Harmon, always reminds me of this. There is no need to try and prove anything to your audience. You are merely the channel through which light and love are being transmitted to those around you. Your show is not actually about you. That takes a lot of pressure off of you as the performer, right? Remember, you are the faucet, not the water.
Are you a performer, public speaker or do you compete in your respective field? I'd love to hear your tips about how the magic happens for you on game day.