Audience Anxiety

Let’s take a moment to consider your relationship to your audience.

As the pianist Eugene Istomin put it, “In order to function, I need a public. We all need it. And there is none of us who is free of that anxiety.”

The dynamics between performer and audience are often exceedingly complex. Some of these dynamics may encourage you to seek out an audience and some may encourage you to avoid an audience.

You may, for instance, find it strange and unsettling that your audience knows you while you know nothing about them.

Or you may doubt that your audience really understands you, which causes you to sneer at their applause.

An Exercise to Improve Your Audience Relationship

Grab a pen and a piece of paper – or fire up MS Word – and just spend a few minutes writing your thoughts in response to this question:

Is something in the performer-audience dynamic preventing you from seeking out an audience?

As you think about this question, scan the list below and comment on any of the statements that may apply to you – and comment on how you might meet these challenges:

*I may be avoiding acquiring an audience because:
*I suffer from performance anxiety.
*I’m shy.
*I refuse to be criticized or judged.
*I am waiting to perfect my work.
*I doubt that I’ll be understood.
*I doubt my talent.
*I don’t know what to say to people when they congratulate me or want to talk about my work.
*I don’t much like people.
*I hate to appear as if I’m hawking my work.
*I’m uncomfortable in the spotlight.

Wrapping Up

In addition to all of the usual relationship challenges and issues that confront all human beings, the performer has a special set of relationship challenges to meet in terms of an audience.

Scan what you’ve written, identify one thing you’d like to be more aware of, and try making a change.

Remember: it’s a journey. Awareness and trying things out are part and parcel of the artist’s life.