DEEP BREATH. SMILE. You Are AWESOME.
Whether on the production side or the presenter side, we all want the same thing: to be and bring our best to our audition. And you know what can be a bothersome intruder during these times? Our jingly jangly nerves. The same ones that make our knees knock and our shoulders shiver. We can't help it, our excitement and palpable joy of connecting through our written work builds inside of us until we are ready to pop. Sometimes that comes out in a helium squeaky voice, tight and in a pitch you've never heard before. Whut? Other times we sound like Darth Vader after he's climbed a flight of stairs.
Me? I sound like I’m standing on a foot massager when I go outside of my comfort zone.
In the past few years, I’ve taken some classes on public speaking and have been fortunate to have worked one-on-one with successful onstage presenters. Of course, I’ve taken notes along the way, because I write everything down -- it's what I do.
Here’s what I have to share with you in the sincere hope that a few tricks of the public speaking trade will help to calm those Audition Nerves:
-Begin by reminding yourself that excitement is good. Though we may hear our shaky voice differently in our bone conduction heads, chances are your audience will hear it as joy, energy, enthusiasm!
-Practice and practice. Practice reading slowly and clearly so none of your words catch you by surprise. Mark your script so you feel confident where to pause, linger, or change up your voice. Do not rush through your words as if you’re apologizing for making anyone sit through what you’ve written. Believe me, we want to hear your stories, so give us every word, loud and clear, so we don’t mistake you for the pork council auctioneer (forgive me, I live in Wisconsin, pork is big here).
-Monotones make people stop listening. So talk to us the way you talk to your friends and family: like you’re ALIVE. Variety and with your voice riding up and down the scale of human emotion.
-Look up. Even if you don't want to! Plan ahead just that moment when you need to look up and connect with your audience. Mark it on your paper, then you don’t have to worry and fret about when when when will you get the guts to look away from the security blanket of black words on white. Underline the spot, it could be the punch line, it could be the setting of a scene. You only need to look up three times to make a connection, so plan the place to do it.
-Be loud enough. Tell that inner shy to shuttup. Push that fear, anxiety, doubt, Negative Nelly to the back and out of your way. (I mean, visualize the push, you know?) Be proud of what you are bringing to this audition and believe in your work. Passion and commitment calm nerves with a sense of purpose. A straight spine releases some courage, too (your mother was right).
-Roll your shoulders. Breathe. Roll your shoulders. Breathe. Roll your shoulders. Breathe. Use your commas and periods to catch some air, and exhale.
-Do the motorboat with your lips to loosen them. Right before you go on, say and hold aloud a few “OWWWWWWWWWWW” as if you just bumped your big toe into your grandma’s parlor piano.
-And, when we call your name to read, take two seconds to stand straight, chest out, hands on hips, in the Super Woman stance. Then, look up, smile and -
Go ahead ('cause you're amazing)
Find those hips (they're under there)
Do it (gotta play to win)
See what I mean.
Now, go and dazzle ’em with your brilliance!
Break a leg and reach for your dreams! It's not right to deny the world the gifts you bring. If I hadn't made myself audition for Listen To Your Mother in Madison six years ago, I'd never have brought the show to Milwaukee and gone on to be part of the production team here. So, yeah... chew on that. But make it a confident chew. Because you're a force to be reckoned with.
Listen To Your Mother/Milwaukee
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