“There are two types of speakers – those who get nervous and those who are liars.” ― Mark Twain
Which are you?
The fear of freezing up in front of an audience, of being judged, forgetting a word, or saying something that may result in embarrassment will bring up incredible anxiety in us. Many people avoid speaking in front of others at all costs for all of these reasons.
I’m a nervous speaker, not a liar. So I can appreciate people who get nervous when it comes to speaking in front of others. I actually think it is much harder to speak to one person than an entire audience. There are probably a lot of people who would agree with this.
When I’m nervous my hands sweat. I was called “Palm Springs” in the eighth grade by a kid named Jimmy Bishop. Kids are so brilliant, aren’t they? I mean, that was a pretty clever nickname. My kids, poor things, inherited the sweaty hands from me.
Full disclosure: when I’m driving I keep paper towels or napkins in the car because if I have to go on the highway I get a little nervous and of course my hands sweat. I prefer to be driven for this very reason. People might keep 10 and 2 on the wheel, but I keep paper.
Why am I telling you this? Because being nervous is natural, especially when we don’t know the outcome of a situation. But if something means a great deal to us or we are put in a situation where we don’t have a choice but to do the thing we know we need to do, we have to face our fears.
I used to get nervous with auditions. I wrote a blog about it called, “Burning the Potatoes.” I have frozen up many times in auditions. It’s horrifying to have people stare at you waiting for you to speak and you’re so tongue tied, you can’t get anything out. You may have rehearsed what you are going to say two thousand times and yet, when it comes time to say what you have to say, you get tongue tied and say something you kick yourself for later or say nothing at all.
For me, I found that my tongue tied-ness came from not being sure of myself. It had nothing to do with anyone else, although I often blamed them for sure. But once I realized I had all of the control over how I presented myself to others, meaning being my authentic self, I had nothing to lose. And I also know that whatever is meant for me can never pass me by and as long as I trust this, there is nothing to fear.
With acting, like anything in life, we can only ever take things one step at a time. If I get too in my head about the details of the shoot and think too far ahead, I may get to the point where I talk myself out of the thing altogether. This is bad. This is when we self sabotage. Its just one step, that’s it. Everything else will fall into place.
Say what you want to say no matter how nervous you are. You will probably feel a whole lot better and maybe the person or people you are afraid to speak with, will too.
And if you must, keep tissues in your pocket like I do on occasion, just in case your hands sweat.