I remember when I did my first workshop at the television news directors’ convention. I was told to expect about 30 news directors and 200+ showed up! I hate listening to the tape recording of that workshop because my pitch got higher and higher as more people flooded the room.
So how can you avoid letting stress kick in and wreck your voice?
I think there are basically two paths you can choose from. One escalates the tension of the situation and the other lessens it. Let’s call the latter one, “The Road Less Traveled,” since most of us forget it’s there.
The first choice is the one we seem instinctively to go towards. This one starts with a slight knot in the stomach and maybe a rapid heartbeat. It progresses to all-out fear and panic.
We get the knot in the stomach because we think something might go wrong when we start speaking. The more we think this, the bigger the fear grows. The bigger it grows, the higher our pitch will likely be when we start speaking. (To learn why this happens, click here.)
The Road Less Traveled starts at the same place, but instead of letting the knot in the stomach scare us, we think of it positively. I used to tell my public speaking students that it’s not stage fright, it’s “presentational energy,” and we need it to do a good job. It’s an asset not a threat.
Try this the next time you’re doing a live shot or auditioning for a voiceover job. Tell yourself that it’s presentational energy you’re feeling that will give your performance the energy and focus it needs. This simple thought can actually lower your adrenaline level and combat your fear.