Of late I’ve been asked this question way many times by different people. I’m not sure if I have that kind of a stage fearlessness to answer this question.
This was how my journey was…
I was an introvert and didn’t have more than a handful of friends until 8th grade. My mom always felt I had to be put into dramatics, cause I used to narrate very well, of anything that caught my attention on the television as a kid, from ads to even malayalam movies. That’s also the time she realized that I never used to take up any stage activities- she saw untapped potential…HahaX.
In a parents teachers meeting she asked my class teacher to make sure I was part of any stage activity there after. So initially, I stepped on stage for assembly time, since assembly was assigned to different classes each day. I still remember, it was the thought for the day, a one liner -“What we love to do, we find time to do”. This was all it was, but then I was so scared… I would have practiced that one line around 50 times in front of the mirror, and torturing my mom to listen as well. Next morning on stage, my heart beating like double the speed I did tell the one liner. Soon I was part of news reading and small skits, I still had stage fear… The practices in front of the mirror and practicing of dialogues still continued till class 9 or class 10. Stage fear, initially could mean a shaky voice, fast pace of reading or talking.
So how to get started, it is just performance fear:
Talking spontaneously on stage could be hard, initially to begin, start with a properly hand written/scripted order of what you want to speak on stage.
Practice reading it with the exact tone and pace you want to deliver it on stage. When you are up there some of us tend to read faster, in an attempt to finish fast and get off the stage. So practice a pace slower than the one you want to deliver.
Being audible is very important.. When I initially started stage performance in school, looking into the huge lot of 3000 students at the assembly used to scare the hell out of me… So this is what my Dad said, “Don’t look right into their eyes( gradually you would have to learn to do that) just keep your eyes glancing above the audiences head level, that would make them feel we are looking at them and addressing.” Well that is really important you glance at your audience once in a while even if you are just reading an already scripted dialogue.
Do check how you stand, use your hands and glance at the audience – Mirror is the best way to check your mannerisms. Do not fiddle with that identity card or tag or tie. Be calm.
The stage fear was always there, until I started observing people being MC (Master of Ceremonies), that I used to think how soon they could pass out information on immediate request by the hosts. That was something I admired, no practice, no awareness of who was wanting an announcement made, yet they sounded so lively and upbeat.
So what gave them that edge? That was something that kept me under quest for sometime.
So to get to that expert level:
You must have conquered that stage fear with all the above given tricks and tactics. Then it is just a realization that making mistakes are common and framing what you want to communicate in your mind, before you start to talk.
The most important being your ability to laugh at your own mistakes (on stage) and being able to listen to people and, not listen to them as the situation demands – That habit would take time to come by…
Stage fear is normal, each time I’m on stage, in front of the mike, I have that fear… But it’s just common, you want to do well. Just like that fear before exams, stage fear only is to motivate us to perform better.
Go out there! Grab your stage space! Everyone has their own talents. If not the stage, you have other talents too…
Life is Beautiful!