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Help!!!!!!!! Performance anxiety!

I've been asked to do some readings of my work. Every time I do it I suffer from shakes. It's not just anxiety, nervousness or excitement, all so similar in effect. I'm pleased and honoured to be asked, feel fairly confident in the worth of my work but when I get up to read I commence to shake, not just hands, my whole body and voice, like I'm working a supercharged jackhammer. I shake so hard the pages fly out of my hands. A lectern doesn't stop my feet vibrating off the floor and my voice fibrillating set to crack like a re-visited adolescence.

I've tried going for a brisk walk before-hand, imagining the audience nude (that only caused my erection to vibrate), taking Valium (my slurs shook). Nothing seems to help.

I've had this problem for 40 years, it's never stopped me reading, but it's never got better.

Any ideas?

Comments

Shouldn't laugh but I know how you feel, my knees literally knock. My husband has a stammer - I asked him how he copes, he said he thinks positively, looks at someone smiling, tries to be confident in his abilty, tries to read the poem/work from memory - losing your place can cause panic and of course practise, practise, practise and don't worry about making a mistake.

Hope that's of some help Jess.

Nice to see you! No I haven't, I've seen exerts from it - It is definately on my list for one ot the films to watch, I'd forgotten about it, so I'm glad you reminded me.

Thanks Yenti

Loads of love

Mand xxxxxxxx

I will take all that on board.

I recently heard Terry Pratchett speak, and he has both an s th lisp and a r w lisp, yet he speaks with confidence and agility. I was so fucking jealous!

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

It reminds me of the stand-up comedians impersonation of a drunk in an earthquake- walking a perfectly straight line but looking rather startled and confused.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

Back in the days when I was an athlete (rode to games on dinosaurs) pregame shakes were common. You must picture the worst thing that could possibly happen. Then realize that even that won't be life threatening. This poetry is like sports, it's supposed to be fun! Concentrate on the poem and tune out the spectators. Once you get started, the rest will follow..........................stan

on a Tyrannosaurus Rex, trained to gobble up critics, it might boost my confidence.

I've tried heaps of things, and mostly feel pretty good and confident about reading, I've even done therapy on it! I can't help wondering if it is a physiological reaction, a malfunction of the adrenal gland, which can produce mescaline-like substances when faulty. Hmmmm, maybe that's why I keep on doing it! I've never given up trying or knocked back a gig, but I don't go in for slams, that is just too extreme.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

It's andenalin from the "fight or flight" reflex. I doubt any in audience will attack but also don't doubt the problem or belittle it................stan

When you get up to recite any type of speech or poetry piece just ignore the people in front of you and stay calm. You can take some deep breathing exercises and I am sure as you are able to talk well on the net you will be able to get in front of anyone and JUST DO IT. I did it in the courtroom a poem I wrote for my co-workers wedding and I was a little shakey but pulled it together and everyone had tears in their eyes. If you need any help let me know I have other ideas as well.

You can do it Jess. Put your mind at ease and practice alot at home first. Have a lot of confidence in what you speak and what you speak about.

Blessings
Mona

the one thing I haven't tried is practicing at home.
I'll do that.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

You start posting your spoken words in here and others will comment. You did that before. So close your eyes and pretend the whole audience of Neopoets are in front of you.( And watch out No one laugh or I will have to put them under the couch lmao:)
Have you ever used Skype before? I would love to hear you recite to me and then lend you some tips. Just a suggestion as my time on computer is limited of late with all going on but I would be willing to hear your spoken word for sure and you can talk in camera or not if you like.. You just keep practicing and release that anxiety. I was scared at first but once I found my calm I was fine. A couple times of doing it and you will be fine, trust me practice practice It does work..talk to you later
Ms Mona

I'll take all your advice and do everything again, but remember I've done most of it before and have been struggling with this for 40 years!

Yes, I use Skype a lot with a fellow Neopoet, but mostly I've been reading his poems back to him, so he can get the "ear" of them. I'll try it the other way too.

Whatever, I never give up. One day something will click if I just keep open and keep trying.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

One of the methods I have found helpful is to practice into a mirror. Then, when it is time to actually speak, I remove my glasses so i can appear to make eye contact without ever having to do so.

Lastly, I do aversion therapy. I actively engage in the things I find most uncomfortable until I become desensitized. It can build up a tolerance for the physical reactions until they are reduced in intensity.

---------------------------------------------------------

Jonathan Moore

yes, practice at home, in the mirror. That's about the only thing I haven't tried before.

My long distance vision is good so I'd have to put on my reading glasses, but I'm not sure that would help, I still KNOW the buggers are there.

Yes, and desensitivation. Will try that too.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

Get a jolly swagman to impersonate you, then while you prop up the bar you can enjoy a xxxx while his jumbuck is getting its billy boiled, all to thunderous applause. Failing that you should imagine an enraged lynch mob chasing you down the street - then realise that aint gonna happen. Good Luck

Ian

TIME FLIES LIKE AN ARROW, BUT FRUIT FLIES LIKE A BANANA

but an elf is an elf is an elf is an elf. Accept no substitutes.

Maybe I will abuse the bastards first, so that if they do try to lynch me I can blame that instead of the poetry.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

I hope you have seen "Black Swan", every poet needs to see that to explore their inner passions and dark side.

Yes, I've done some acting, that might help.

What is "straping"?

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

Jess,

have you ever tried hypnosis?...it worked for me although I still prefer to be slightly intoxicated before stepping out. My fear is forgetting my words or getting the timing wrong. At least with poetry, you normally have the book in front of you so you can't forget the words.

I am still very self-conscious when trying to move whilst singing...I wouldn't say it was dancing but it is a movement of some kind. I'll invite you to the next gig and you can stage dive for me as I always worry they won't catch me!!

Seriously, hypnosis has been a great help and the inner suggestions do work.

regards,

HS

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With all that I am and all that I could be, I walk this earth, yet nobody sees me.

I'll ask my therapist if she can suggest someone.

also your mentioning moving while singing sparks an idea, if I could prance about like Peter Garret (Midnight Oil) it might absorb some of the nervous energy, but I'd have to stop to read the lines, I'm can recite a lot of poetry from memory but none of my own- once it's out it won't go back in.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

I know it's not funny, but can't help but visualize the hypnotist saying, as an add on," and when I snap my fingers you will no longer be abrasive in critiques" pmsl. Just could not help myself and beg forgiveness...................stan

Never happen. And I mean never!

 

Respectfully, Jim

"Laws and Rules don't kill freedom: narrow-minded intolerance does" - Race-9togo

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Race_9togo

"you will no longer be jess"
I open my eyes and say
"yes, I can hear that suuggestion was from the heart"
[grins]

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

Make a nice visual effect, too.

Respectfully, Jim

"Laws and Rules don't kill freedom: narrow-minded intolerance does" - Race-9togo

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Race_9togo

danced like a spastic on speed, he is now our Minister for the Environment.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

Tell the audience about your performance anxiety. make it a part of the performance. You'ld be surprise how well this can work.

Respectfully, Jim

"Laws and Rules don't kill freedom: narrow-minded intolerance does" - Race-9togo

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Race_9togo

Jim,

I had never considered that...superb!

HS

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Workshops are now open:
http://new.neopoet.com/workshop/find
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With all that I am and all that I could be, I walk this earth, yet nobody sees me.

will do that,
thanks

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

Know how it turns out!

Respectfully, Jim

"Laws and Rules don't kill freedom: narrow-minded intolerance does" - Race-9togo

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Race_9togo

a beta-blocker, e.g., Propranolol? My partner (a doctor) used them for performance anxiety.

"I'm a pharmaceutical boy
in a pharmaceutical world"

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

Jim Morrison used to face the drummer because he could not face a crowd when he first started with the Doors so you're not alone in having this fear. I hate crowds too but I find looking at the paper works for me and once I've done one then the rest come easier. There is always hypnotherapy or join Toastmasters which are an organization of speakers and I am sure with practice and such you will get over it. I think when you do not do it on a regular basis it is very hard to put yourself up there alone. I hope it goes ok for you Jess.

Chez
"The perfect woman perpetrates literature as she does a small sin: as an experiment, in passing, to see if anybody notices it - and to makes sure that somebody does." - Nietzsche

yes, I've considered toastmasters before, there were no groups close and I don't drive. But I'll look into it again.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

Opening gambit if you freeze; "My mother told me never to speak with my mouth full, and right now my heart is in my mouth." The audience should be with you all the way , then, but you might shake them off at the bus station.
Good Luck

Ian

TIME FLIES LIKE AN ARROW, BUT FRUIT FLIES LIKE A BANANA

if you've had it this bad for forty years, i don't
know how helpful deep breathing exercises,
practising at home, practising in front of friends etc
will actually be
besides, i'm sure they're things you've tried before

i'd be inclined to let the audience
know how bad your anxiety is before
you begin ...i'm sure you could do it in
a humourous vein, and sometimes, shared
laughter gives a feeling of camaraderie
which may help to make you feel a little
more at ease
you could have a slug of whatever gives
you dutch courage
i'm not talking half a bottle of jack here, just enough
to take the edge off and still allow you to
be completey in control
alternatively, if you're inclined, a quick puff
of something...err...umm... medicinal
i wouldn't stress about "beating it", or
"conquering the beast" ...i'd just deal
with it as the need arises

if doing readings of your work is something
that is always going to come up, then maybe
look at hypnonis?
i have no experience of it, but it may be
worth exploring

best of luck with it all

cheers
p

I think I just have to find a way to work with it. Sharing it with the audience is good, dancing about might help if I can maintain some continuity of performance.

I've never tried betablockers but am wary of all forms of pharmaceuticals or other drugs, they can be a big pitfall for me.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

"I think I just have to find a way to work with it"

i think you've hit the nail on the head

after suffering it for forty years, i seriously
don't know if you will happen upon a "cure"

"working with it", sounds the most honest, and
achievable outcome

it is attainable ..

.trial and error perhaps ...

I'm touched by all the love and concern, my dear sister and brother poets.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

When I first started "performing" in front of an audience, I was probably about ten. It was community and school level elocution contests at that time...

My knees knocked involuntarily then, (and when one was ten, and in short pants, it probably showed !!) and that knee-knock stayed with me thru my 5 or 6 years of school level elocution competition days, despite always being in the top 3 in almost every one. I realised pretty early on that my nervous knees were not borne out of any sense of "Am I any good?" but purely out of the immediacy of the performing itself.

Later on, when i took up the guitar and started performing in front of people who were not my immediate family or friends, I found the same pre-performance nervousness stayed with me. As I started representing my University in inter-college / inter-university music contests, and singing in front of several hundred people, I realised this nervousness would probably stay. It manifests itself in a shake.... but usually for me most pronounced as an involuntary spasm at the knees. It settles down within a couple of minutes or so of starting off normally but those first momernts are painful. Again it obviously had nothing to do with my sense of self worth: I'd won enough prizes and trophies in those inter university contests to realise I was pretty good as a performer ...the cause behind the nervousness was, and remains, an enigma.

The only solace is that it seems to happen to the best of us, and to MOST of us, so I take it as something one has to live with... for the pleasure and thrill of performing.

Never felt the need to take any liquid or other kind of dutch courage inducer myself, lol.

Psyve

help but I found that part of the reason I ever began writing was because I had problems speaking. So if you found someone to perform your poetry for you to your criteria and feel for your work being performed then that might be half the problem solved. Then you could do a "duet" or responsive reading, then at a later stage even have longer "solo" bits. It may also help but be a bit more costly to stage an interactive tableau type performance to run simultaneous to the reading so you are actually getting your attention diverted actively to the interpretation of your poem/s and making sure that they are doing it correctly thus freeing yourself from having all your energies focused on your speaking. Not the best suggestion but just throwing it out there for whatever could be gleaned from the idea.

__________________________________________________
'Break, break break on thy cold grey stones, O Sea.'

I don't have to recite my works often, but when I do... I pick a focal point to focus on (one persons face) and then I pretend I am speaking (loudly) only to one person. Good luck with this enterprise.

always, Cat

When you fling poo, some of the stink sticks to you!

"The Book of Styx" can be ordered and purchased on line at:
http://eddystyx.mythramuse.com/

Hey Jess,
Kavita here well the best solution is practicing in front of me when at home. it really works and when in front of huge audience just take deep breath n say to yourself 'i can do it am the best' it will boost your confidence it works...

nothing stops me reciting, it's just never got less painful each time. I even feel fairly confident.

My doctor has suggested beta-blockers may help, I'll try them next reading.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment

Hi Jess, The first time I read, behind a lectern, my legs wobbly and my voice cracking, I told the audience this is my first reading and I'm glad I'm behind the lectern because you can't see my knees shaking although you can hear my cracking voice, etc. the poet hosting said don't worry you'll be fine, I took a couple of deep breaths, and started reading after the first few words I got into my rhythm, the words took over, and everyone clapped. The poems were perfect in sync with the feel and the mood of the evening (if it isn't that's when it *bombs* no matter how good the poem). (Many poets came up after all the readings were concluded to tell me that after 30 years, etc. they still had *issues*) It's about facing them, eh, Jess?

When I speak in my Middle East Peace Forum, etc. I have *performance anxiety*. I've learned
to live with it and it's no big thing. Like the Nike commercial: "Just do it!" Barry has no problem speaking in large venues. I'm more comfortable in small ones.

Do you have a *Toastmasters* in your neck of the woods? It's practice for speaking to an audience. http://www.toastmasters.org/tips.asp http://reports.toastmasters.org/findaclub/
Also a Dale Carnegie course is invaluable but expensive. Several of my friends have taken it.

~A

The King's English is one of the best movies, loved it!.

Jess, be very careful with these damned things, they could make you like a zombie if your dose isn't right. try them out first, as near to performance situation as you can.
Good Luck
Ian

PS Your stuff is good so relax, enjoy, communicate

TIME FLIES LIKE AN ARROW, BUT FRUIT FLIES LIKE A BANANA

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

loved

this started with public performance when I was 12. Only 53 now., and revelling in it.

Oh the letter missing from my name is not s, it is you.

cheers Jes s

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

author comment
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