REDUCING TENSION FOR ACTORS AND SPEAKERS

Beyond Crystal Ballroom

You are about to go on stage (to speak or act) AND might feel tension in your neck and shoulders – and this may cause you to appear hunched. It may also cause a tightening in your larynx – producing the breathless quivering or shaky voice associated with nervousness. Tension is also tiring and consequently it may have a detrimental effect on your overall performance. First of all you need to find a quiet place, where you can be alone for a minute or two. You can also do the exercises in a back room or backstage, where the audience can’t see you.

METHOD FOR EASING TENSION

Excerpted from How to Reduce Tension Minutes Before Your Presentation or Speech by Rana Sinha, June 19, 2007

There are a few simple exercises that can help to eliminate the tension that you are likely to feel just before your presentation. Most likely you feel tension in your neck and shoulders – and this may cause you to appear hunched. It may also cause a tightening in your larynx – producing the breathless quivering or shaky voice associated with nervousness. Tension is also tiring and consequently it may have a detrimental effect on your overall performance. First of all you need to find a quiet place, where you can be alone for a minute or two. You can also do the exercises in a back room or backstage, where the audience can’t see you.

EXERCISES FOR REDUCING TENSION IN NECK AND SHOULDERS

To ease stress in the neck place your cupped hands at the base of your skull and press your head firmly back into them, holding the push for about 10 seconds before releasing and repeating. During this exercise keep your elbows back and try closing your eyes.

EXERCISES FOR REDUCING TENSION IN LOWER BACK

A good way to relieve stress in the lower back is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart and reach for the sky. Point your fingers straight up as you stretch your arms above your head and keep stretching them as you feel the pressure on your back ease. Keeping you feet firmly on the ground, push your pelvis forward gently and hold yourself in this position for just a few seconds before gently relaxing back to your start position. Then you can move your hands and your hips sideways a few times. This exercise helps to ease the muscles in the neck, back and hamstrings.

BREATHING EXERCISE

The technique of alternate nostril breathing aims to balance our entire autonomic nervous system by breathing alternately through the right nostril.

First clear your nostrils by breathing in and out quickly several times in a row. Next, use the thumb to close your right nostril and your ring finger to close your left nostril alternately. Begin by inhaling through both nostrils. Then breathe out through one nostril, while blocking the other, and then switch and breathe in through the other nostril. After three complete breaths, exhale without switching sides, and do three more breaths.

After this you will surely be in a better frame of mind to go and give your best. Enjoy your presentation.

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