Telling someone to relax and be nervous at the same time might seem counterintuitive. And in some respects it is. But as a broadcast performer, you want to be relaxed, but you also want to acknowledge any nervousness as potentially a good thing.
Being relaxed is imperative to doing many things. I once had a golf lesson where a professional told me to stiffen my right hand and wrist, and then to waive that hand rapidly, back and forth, in front of my face like a windshield wiper. After I did that, he told me to loosen my hand and wrist and waive them again in the same manner. There was much more action and movement from the hand and wrist that were relaxed. The muscles moved much easier—there was so much more action. In other words, you can’t play golf when you’re body is stiff. Same is true when performing as a broadcaster.
That said, relaxing may be easier said than done. Nerves are bound to play a part in anybody’s performance. Even seasoned professionals will tell you they get nervous before they perform. Not to the point where they feel as though they’re going to fail, but nerves nonetheless. It’s like that bucking race horse that refuses to get into the starting gate before the race. That horse knows what’s coming up—two or so minutes of heart-pumping running. Because the horse is conditioned to know that, his or her adrenaline is already coursing through the body. A broadcast performer is often the same; the adrenaline is going while waiting to go live on the air.
So the trick is to acknowledge the nervousness as a process that your body naturally goes through. I always say “nerves are the body’s way of getting you to be a success.” Ideally, once that red light goes on, you should be able to get into a rhythm, perform…and relax.
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