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Do you sometimes get frustrated because your audience is not feeling what you want them to feel?

Are you sometimes not sure how to truly move the people who came to see you speak, perform, act?

I know I do – but this month, I had a breakthrough….

As a performer, entrepreneur, director… it can be frustrating to realize that all the energy you have put into learning a craft, setting up the best play, singing songs packed with emotions…. doesn’t meet with an audience.

How come they are not feeling it?

This is a question that has always been on the back of my mind, especially when I act or sing: As an actress, I am trained to vividly visualize a scene, and feel the deep emotions my character is going through…

But how to make sure that you are truly conveying it to the audience?

I am told to ‘feel it’ myself… but even if I do, am I truly making them feel something?

Because we all know: People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel. It is true for art, for business, for any type of interactions.

I had a breakthrough moment, though, after a full-on, fulfilling Performance training weekend with Rhonda Carson.

Rhonda is an outstanding performance coach for singers, who teaches how to connect with your audience (and also, what to do with your hand when you are singing – the short answer is ‘nothing’, the long answer is here).

I kept nagging her: but what if I feel the emotion and the audience doesn’t? What do I do?

Make sure you are telling a story – she said.

But isn’t that what I am doing already? With acting, singing, writing, aren’t I always telling stories? What if noone wants to listen?

And then it dawned on me.

As performers, we can be so focused on what we want to share – our core message, our skills, a deep emotion – that we can forget to actually connect with our audience first.

And to do that, we need to take it slow. So often, we rush towards the emotions of the song or the movie, or towards the fancy jumps or sophisticated trick, without starting from where the audience is.

When we tell a story, we make it clear that we do. We set the stage. We give details, to help them visualise. We acknowledge that we have an audience, even if we are fully re-living the scene we are speaking about. We slowly build up, and only then go into the climax of the big emotions, the laughter, the impressive trick, the key message…

We take them by the hand.

There is a quote that I think comes from my favorite writer Romain Gary (but I couldn’t find any trace of it online, so I might have dreamt it…) which goes kind of like this:

You can’t wait for your audience to meet you at the top of the stairs. You need to come down, take them by the hand, and slowly walk up with them, one step at a time.

Even if it is slow.

From words to play – how to bring a play to life?