A few days ago, I wrote this post on how to get rid of nerves, showing how the military conquer the symptoms of nervousness. I wrote it because, after “How the hell did you do that?”, “how do you have the courage to perform for people?” is the most often asked question at gigs, especially after I also tell people that I perform stand up comedy.
Anybody who has done any public speaking has felt the dread that goes along with it. I’m always interested in hearing about the fun and unique ways that people have developed or discovered to deal with performance anxiety.
A while ago, I discovered Amy Cuddy’s excellent TED Talk, “Your body language shapes who you are” and was introduced into the world of power posing. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click the link, watch the talk (it takes abut 20 minutes) and then come back.
Power posing is one of those ideas that sounds like a news story on April 1st but, I watched the talk and wanted to test it out. Coincidentally, I was chatting with a comedian backstage at a gig the next day, whilst also trying to surreptitiously sneak into a power pose when he went into one of the power stances! We got chatting and spent a couple of minutes in a weird combination of Superman like poses before going on stage, to test the theory.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), we got a chance to test the effectiveness of the posing, as the booker had somehow put a classic guitarist in the middle of a comedy night for 20 minutes which completely killed the comedy atmosphere. We both went on to do our sets and make them laugh, but the audience was mentally in another place; a world where comedy didn’t exist. Ideal testing conditions for power posing.
I can’t speak for the other guy but, even though the act wasn’t going as well as I’d hoped, I felt relaxed and in control. It was a strange feeling; one that I’ve never really experienced before when dying on stage. Definitely better than knocking knees and flop sweat.
Amy’s talk highlights the different ways in which power posing could help, and also the science behind it, so it’s well worth watching the full talk.
Now all I need is a technique that makes me feel relaxed on stage…and guarantees hysterical laughter from the audience.