How to Destroy Performance Anxiety and Deliver an Award-Winning Show Every Time - The Emotion Machine

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How to Destroy Performance Anxiety and Deliver an Award-Winning Show Every Time - The Emotion Machine

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You have an important message to send to the world.
It’s your mission to make your message as clear as possible.
Your message will not resonate with everyone.
Your job is to win over those in the “grey area”

If you’re performing in a rock band, or delivering a speech, or being interviewed for a job, you have to believe that deep-down what you are presenting is valuable and meaningful and important.


Here are the basic steps to preparation and rehearsal for a big speech or lecture:

Choose your big idea – What’s the big message you want to deliver to your audience? What’s the purpose behind your presentation? You need to have something you want to share with others before you can start building a presentation around it.

Make an outline – First make an outline of how you want to present your ideas. What’s your big idea? What small ideas do you need to present along the way to build up to your big idea? This can just be a rough outline, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to update later.

Write a rough script – Once you have an outline in place, write a rough script of the things you want to say about each idea. Try to keep in mind that you’ll eventually be reading these words out-loud, so it’s best to write similar to how you speak.

Table reading – Now that you have a script, you can practice reading it and seeing how it flows together. You can try reading it to yourself inside your head, though it also helps to read it aloud since that is eventually how the script will be performed on your big day.

Content mapping – In this phase of the rehearsal, you will be focusing on the flow and rhythm of your speech. What words do you want to emphasize? Where do you want to pause after making an important point? What ideas are worth repeating or saying twice? You can make small notes on your script (underlines, circles, text) to signify how you want to deliver the speech from a performance standpoint.

Blocking – Blocking is your plan for how you will move during the speech or presentation. It includes how you will walk around the stage, make use of lighting and space within the venue, and how you present yourself through your posture, movement, and gestures. These are often neglected areas of presentations that people don’t think about, but they can have a powerful impact on how well your message is delivered to others.

Costumes, props, and media – If your presentation includes costumes, props, or technology (like a powerpoint presentation or speaker system), it’s important to go through these items in the rehearsal phase so that you aren’t caught off-guard during your presentation. Have a good working knowledge of the props and technology you’ll be using, and make sure you double-check everything is working before you get on stage. This also includes what you plan to wear during the event. Don’t wait last minute to try on that new suit or dress.

Practice improvisation – Once you have a lot of the basic essentials figured out for your performance, it can help to rehearse while also leaving room for improvisation. Improvisation during rehearsal can be a great way to find new material to add or take out in a performance. Maybe while rehearsing your performance, you think of a joke or story you can add that will add an extra punch to your message. Discovering this new material through improvisation can be a great addition to your performance’s script.

Invited rehearsals – Now that you are prepared to deliver your presentation, try a couple rehearsals around friends, family, or coworkers and see if they can give you any feedback. At this point, you probably won’t be making any major changes to your presentation, but you might get valuable feedback from others that you can incorporate into your presentation. Maybe someone notices you aren’t making enough eye contact with the crowd, or you tend to keep scratching your head during performances. Having an outside perspective during the rehearsal phase can often make you aware of little changes that you would’ve never caught on your own.

Open rehearsals – Open rehearsals are rehearsal performances that are open to the public. Many performers, bands, and stand-up comics will “test their material” in front of a small live audience before they deliver a big event. For example, I know comedians like Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari will often do open mic nights at bars or clubs to test out new material before doing a new HBO special or big tour around the country. The feedback you get from live audiences can also be a powerful way to shape your performances in the future.
By acting “as if,” you give yourself permission to be something other than what you typically think of yourself as. This can have a huge impact on your ability to be the best performer you can be.
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