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Emceeing

Just over the last two weekends, I had the opportunity to host one of the biggest annual seminars in both KL & Singapore – Joey Yap’s Feng Shui & Astrology.

Hosting an event with thousands of people at this event more than once every year, many have always asked me if I ever get the jitters. The answer? Yes, a little. After all, no one wants to say or do anything regretful in front of so many people, isn’t it? 😛 The quick solution? Just don’t do or say anything you’d regret! Haha. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it?

On a serious note, I wouldn’t call my stage fright symptoms jitters. They are not severe and normally short-lived.

Perhaps this is because I started performing since I was 4 – not by choice, but because my parents so happened to enroll me in nurseries & kindergartens that had a thing for putting concerts together. I sort of just went along with it and suddenly realised I enjoyed it.

I don’t think performing at a young age gets rid of stage fright entirely, but it definitely eases you into taking and owning the stage when required to. In other words, when push comes to shove and you’ve got to perform or speak to a large audience, it’s not gonna be all that foreign or frigthening simply because you’ve done it before.

I spent many years skipping classes to rehearse performances (mostly dancing) in both primary and secondary school. I still remember how teachers would willingly write us permission slips to skip our classes because we had a performance to rehearse. Some may be quick to judge that our teachers were irresponsible to do that – but hey, our grades (my friends and I) didn’t give them any reason to be concerned. Our teachers knew we loved dancing and since they depended on the students to provide entertainment for special occasions, it was a win-win situation.

While I’ve spent years acting, dancing & singing, I must say, singing and speaking are the ones that often make one feel most vulnerable.

With acting, an actor can and is usually required to put on a character. With dancing on the other hand, a dancer wears different hats, or switches into his/her alter ego of some sort to get his/her groove on. With singing & speaking, however, there’s always a sense of obligation to be the real you. At least, that was the startling difference to me, and what contributed in making me feel more vulnerable on stage as compared to acting & dancing.

I guess it’s because just being yourself is usually easier said than done, especially while everyone’s watching 🙂

But this is where being comfortable in your own skin is so important. And being comfortable with your voice can most definitely get you there!

That said, while experience may make public speaking less daunting, it’s not the only way to overcome stage fright.

Understanding Stage Fright

Stage fright is a performance anxiety aroused in one when he or she is required to perform in front of an audience – which may be just a few people to a large group of people, live (in person), on air (TV, Radio Announcing, Facebook Live) or on camera. For some, the anxiety may precede their presentation/performance, for others, the anxiety may precede and be on going through out their whole presentation/performance.

This anxiety manifests differently in different individuals. Some physical symptoms include a dry mouth, a racing heart, a shaky voice, shaky hands and/or legs, sweating, blushing, trembling, nausea & etc.

Many people assume that stage fright is a low-confidence problem. However, a quick search on google will surprise you as to how many confident and experienced celebrities (singers included) actually have stage fright too. They include Hugh Grant, Adele, Barbra Streisand, Lorde, Mariah Carey, Cher & etc.

And my point is?

  1. Stage fright is an anxiety most people experience (whether confident or not, and experienced or not)
  2. Stage fright symptoms differ from on person to another (in degree and symptom types)
  3. Despite stage fright (however shit-scared you feel inside), you can train yourself to deliver confidently like the celebrities do!

 Overcoming Stage Fright

So the “trick” to overcoming stage fright is not so much getting rid of the fear itself, but training yourself to perform confidently despite how fearful or anxious you may feel, which often melts away when you do so.

Stage fright causes a lot of anxiety and tension build-up in the body. It is imperative that a speaker must first physically relax his or her body. In our public speaking and singing courses, we’d normally go through relaxation exercises to prepare the body for performance. This lessens the stage fright symptoms tremendously, and removes restrictions to the voice very quickly – allowing a person to speak or sing with a steady voice that projects confidence.

When one is able to get the ball rolling (speak steadily with a strong vocal presence to start with), the stage fright diminishes really quickly and will most likely be gone entirely throughout the rest of the performance or presentation.

Besides relaxation exercises, vocal warm-ups help too. But physical exercises aside, one must also be mentally prepared.

Many believe that being mentally prepared means to memorise their whole speech or presentation – but memorising things is not the best way to be natural on stage. Not unless you want to sound like a robot and send yourself panicking when you forget a line or two! Haha 😛 Working with speech maps or memory maps instead to organise the flow of your thoughts is much easier and prevents your mind from going blank or you from rambling on redundant points.

However, all that preparation only means one is prepared content-wise. It does not necessarily mean one is mentally prepared.

Being mentally prepared means to be clear of your purpose and goal for speaking at that particular event, using that as your main motivation in sharing and in overcoming stage fright!

How do we do that exactly? Here’s what I’ve summed up for you:

3 Change of Mindsets That Can Help You Overcome Stage Fright

#1: It’s not about you. It’s about YOUR AUDIENCE

Self-consciousness contributes to stage fright. Stop thinking about how you look, how you sound and what people are thinking about you. Shift your every focus to your audience – how do they look and how do they feel today? How can you make their day better? How can you help them understand things better?

#2: Remember your purpose & what you have to offer

You are not there to impress anyone. You are there to serve your audience. Remember why you have to or want to share whatever it is you’re sharing with your audience. How will what you share change or improve their lives or even just their day? Why is what you’re sharing different from what others have to offer? Why is it important that they have to understand this? When you realise your true purpose and the true value of what it is you have to offer your audience, there will be no room for self-doubt 🙂

#3: Accept yourself, flaws & all.

No one’s perfect. Practice & prepare yourself as much as you can beforehand, but when it comes to show time, just do it! Dive in and let the music begin. Give your 100% and know that you may make mistakes. The most important thing is to keep going – the show must go on. Don’t kill yourself over one silly mistake and let it ruin your whole performance. Most people make that one mistake and focus so much on it that everything else goes down the hill. Instead, just let go, and have fun! Sometimes mistakes turn out to be a comic relief and it makes our performances altogether more human – it’s not the end of the world.

Hope that gives you some inspiration to own the stage the next time you’re thrusted into the limelight unexpectedly! 🙂

Go on and rock n’ roll!

 

 

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Emceeing for Feng Shui & Astrology 2017 & Overcoming Stage Fright