Presenters, is your preparation as extensive as Iggy Pop’s daylong regimen?
No, probably not—but you still can ready yourself for the big moment.
The iconic rocker known for wild stage antics and unpredictable performances leads a quieter lifestyle at this stage of his long career.
The inventor—or at least an early proponent—of the stage dive takes his music and his performances very seriously, and that extends to his pre-show routine, which takes eight to nine hours.
He begins with coffee in bed to clear his mind, not talking to anyone. Hours before leaving for the performance venue, he spends half an hour lying on the floor breathing deeply. Then he visualizes the show for an hour, going over the precise stage movements and positions, which actors call blocking. He proceeds to Qigong, a slow physical practice similar to Tai Chi. He then showers, dresses, and is driven to the venue. There he sits silently, mentally preparing for another two hours before showtime.
That’s quite a routine, and one that most presenters haven’t the time for.
What are the essentials of stage prep for a speaker, assuming you don’t have eight hours?
1. Prepare your voice. It’s startling how little care speakers typically take of their voices. If your voice goes out, no speaking, right? It’s the most important part of your speaker tool kit. Warming it up should be Job One. Find a warmup exercise that works for you, and strictly adhere to that regime. No shirking.
2. Prepare your head. Focus is the key here as you hone your speech, run through the outline in your mind, solidify your opening, and generally do what it takes to be ready to give a great performance. If you’re a highly nervous speaker, then memorize the first line of your talk and hold on tightly to it. Most people find their nervousness begins to decline after the first few moments, so make sure those are ready to go.
3. Prepare your heart. It’s not enough just to focus on the words you’re going to say; you also need to bring the emotions that underlie the talk and make it memorable. That means finding your way to conjure them beforehand, so you are ready when the moment comes.
4. Prepare your body. Speaking puts stress on the body, too, so think about ways to prepare physically. Try some form of light exercise. Don’t run a marathon; you’ll be too tired to get through the speech. By contrast, don’t sit in your hotel room drinking coffee and binging on doughnuts; the sugar and caffeine will help only to a point. After that, they’ll start doing damage.