Here’s a term that could unlock the next level of your performance: Relaxed readiness.
Air personalities struggle finding the balance between being highly prepared to perform and “winging it”. I’ve actually had personalities tell me that they can just come in and talk about their life, confident that they would be able to find something entertaining. On air personality actually told me:
I just bring my experiences to the air. It’s good enough. My show is totally spontaneous. I plan nothing. That’s how I get such a natural response.
Okay. Fine. How is that working out for you (hint: Not very well).
On the other hand, some personalities don’t feel confident unless they’ve outlined every detail. Some go so far as to script it in advance. It sounds like it’s rehearsed. It’s predictable and lacks excitement.
Being ready and being prepared are not exclusive terms. Relaxed readiness.
Tina Fey Explains Show Prep: Relaxed Readiness
Comedian Tina Fey is one of the most naturally likable improvisational performers in the world. She’s likable, spontaneous and always comes off as being in control. How does she do it?
Here’s what she said when asked what it takes to be ready to perform:
I call it relaxed readiness. There’s a lot of preparation. So preparation, preparation, preparation. And then you want to be in a state of relaxed readiness so that if something spontaneous does happen, you’re there and can take advantage of that moment. But I think you only get there with a lot of prep work.
That’s why, when you’re prepared for virtually anything that can happen, great personalities can make the best of mistakes. In her book Bossypants, Fey relates one of her rules of improv:
There are no mistakes, only opportunities, which doesn’t mean that things can’t go wrong, but that it’s your job to make the best of the situation you find yourself in.
If I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what? Now I’m a hamster in a hamster wheel. I’m not going to stop everything to explain that it was really supposed to be a bike…. In improv there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents. And many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident. I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox.
Relaxed readiness happens when you have invested the time and effort to know your content in enough depth to perform spontaneously. Don’t script it. Prepare it in great depth. It’ll give you confidence to unleash your personality and create some magical moments.
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