You've got a big meeting or a major presentation in front of people who can make or break you. You're feeling prepared but still the nerves are rattling you. You walk into the office, where you've never been before, greeted by the receptionist whom you've never seen in your life, and your heart is pounding out of your chest. But you have just minutes before you must be on and at your best----what do you do!?
Sound familiar?? Great preparation of your craft is a must in these types of situations. But in spite of that, the new environment, filled with unfamiliar faces can kill the security of brilliant prep work. How do you prevent that?
Take the upper hand, because in reality, your prep work is not done. Once you have rehearsed and studied until you can do it in 3 languages, you must now prepare the space in which you must deliver the goods. Your new surroundings must be made comfortable and that is up to you.
I just started a new project last week, a movie for TNT (A Perfect Day, airing December 18th). On the first day, I often know few if any of the folks I'll be working with. I did reconnect with a couple of familiar faces on the crew, but not many. But even knowing some of the crew isn't enough because this is a new project in a new place with lots of unknowns, so it requires a new comfort ritual.
Once I arrived, I had a matter of moments until I would be expected to be at the top of my game. So, I continued to prepare by introducing myself to as many folks as I could, actors and crew, and acquaint myself with the space which was to be my character's office in the film. And soon, I would do the same with the star of the show, not going to drop names, but a very well-known actor. (OK, it was Rob Lowe.) All of this was designed to raise my comfort level in these new digs with lots of new people so I could be at my best. And I'm happy to say that once again, this worked very well. Making a new space a comfortable space so I can fulfill the promise of my preparation has been a staple of my work ethic for a long time.
The next time you're faced with a similar situation, be sure to prepare your space. Do it with sincerity and warmth in a way that relaxes your nerves and empowers your performance. Introduce yourself to folks you don't know. Familiarize yourself with the office, conference room or meeting space in a way that raises your confidence. Get there early so you aren't rushed through this process and you can be as thorough as your nerves may require. There may be those rare times when the comforting will be done for you, but never count on it. Commit to continuing your preparation and comforting yourself.
Once the door opens or you're introduced at the podium or the director yells, "action"---you're on. It's time to put up or go home! Take charge of these moments and keep the fear of the unknown out of your way. Your best chance for success comes when you've got both command of your material and command of your space.
Copyright 2006 Mike Pniewski