An excerpt from CONQUERING LIFE’S STAGE FRIGHT:
Victoria Recaño, an Emmy award-winning presenter, best known as correspondent and host of The Insider. She recently filmed a soliloquy in a movie—and blanked.
“I was freaking out. I’ve never had that happen. I had no idea what the line was. It blows your whole confidence, and suddenly it feels like you’re choking. Thankfully, the director was really nice. And he actually talked me through it.”
But that doesn’t happen often. Victoria actually uses a little curio to remind her of her faith. “I say this prayer with this little plastic thing with a Sacred Heart of Jesus on it that the nuns gave all of us in school as kids. I had that when I anchored at ZDTV (later TechTV), because I was so stressed out when I first started. I had no idea that I was going to be the anchor. I thought I was just coming in to be a correspondent.”
She remembers asking who the co-anchor would be, and her surprise/horror when they responded that there wouldn’t be one.
“Of course, I freaked, and I called up this woman who I used to work with in St. Louis, and she suggested that I find something that will always be a symbol to channel all the stress into. If you watch the old shows, I always have that in my hand. Eventually, you don’t necessarily need it anymore. But I had it physically there for six years. Now it’s there metaphorically.”
I’ve played with the band Foreigner intermittently since 1992, and in 2011/2012, I joined the band on tour again. The experience has given me more joy than just about any other gig. When I was playing with the band circa 1994, I had a very different experience.
We’d been on the road for nearly a year-and-a-half, and I was burned out. One night after a show, I realized that I’d played “Feels Like the First Time” (the band’s first Top 10 hit) more than 300 times—and I just wasn’t feeling all that excited about it. In fact, it was kind of mundane. And that was really selfish. The show wasn’t for me; it was for the audience. At that moment, I wanted a little stage fright, just to feel the emotion.
I needed to focus on them—those screaming, happy fans, and their joy and excitement. I started thinking about my first rock concerts: Peter Frampton, Boston and, yes, Foreigner. (I’m not an original member; I saw this band when I was a teenager.) And something really weird happened; I got a hint of butterflies.
What the hell had I been doing? How selfish and consumed I’d been! How shameful and self-absorbed to forget the reason I was playing. The next day, I went onstage before the show and drew a big, ridiculous, happy face with large teeth on the head of my snare drum as a reminder to be selfless onstage. And every night for the rest of the tour, I got on stage, grinned at that face (which I re-drew every time my tech, Paulie, changed the head), found a bunch of gratitude and connected with my audience.
-Create an anchor. This is something or someone on whom you consistently focus at the beginning of a pre-performance routine that clears everything else out of your mind and resets you. This anchor represents, is anchored to and you always associate with YOUR routine and your purpose. Examples are a family member, religious icon or any other icon that you always think about, and perhaps carry a physical symbol of. You always use this anchor to channel all of the anxiety into, like a vortex of energy to absorb and handle what you wish to discard or create. You also associate this anchor with the strength and focus of your pre-performance ritual or routine.