Achieving a Brilliant Performance

How much effort do you put into being the best you can be? I have so many people who come to me wanting to understand and learn the strategies for performing brilliantly. My first response was that there is no formula. Then I thought about it and realised there is, and that I do actually teach a formula, it's just one that is challenging to take on board.....

Podcast 25 Title

The Courageous Performer Podcast

Achieving a Brilliant Performance

If you would like to learn how to let go and perform brilliantly, so that you can feel confident (even without being able to guarantee the outcome!) then go to to find out how to work with me.

Read the episode transcript here:


Hi, I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice and today, I want to talk to you about something that's been stimulated in my mind by from an email I have from a client, who was talking about the things that she has taken from the work that we've done together. Some of the things that have really enhanced her ability to relax and lean into performance, and one of the big things she said was that, instead of striving for technically accurate, and proficient or even excellent performance, striving for an authentic performance is much more rewarding. Not only is it more rewarding, in the whole experience, but actually, her technical ability has improved the more she's striven for an authentic performance rather than chased after technical proficiency. And that seems slightly contradictory.



And it reminds me of one of the factors in one of the sections in my course, one of the things I mention, is the difference between perfect and brilliant, because so often people think that if they can eliminate all their mistakes, and get everything accurate, and technically good, then that is the route for brilliance. That perfect leads to brilliant. But I say that actually they are fighting, things that fight against each other. That if you strive for perfect, you actually eliminate the possibility of brilliant. And then something sort of slightly contradictory came up in my head because I was thinking, there is no formula or strategy for brilliance in the way that there might be a formula for trying to achieve perfection. But then I realised that isn't true. There is a strategy, there is a formula for achieving brilliance.



However, it's a strategy and formula that terrifies most people. Because brilliance is about stripping back to the real you. We cannot be brilliant while we're pretending. And stripping back to the real you does two main things, one of which helps you, and the other is for your audience. Although there is a huge amount of interplay between the two things.



For you, stripping back to just being you means less efforting. It means less, constantly thinking about how you are doing something, constantly hiding your imperfections or holding up the mask and pretending to be something that in your heart of hearts, you don't believe you are. All of that effort, suddenly, when you are just being you, even if you're onstage acting as somebody else, and I use the word acting cautiously because for me, it's inhabiting somebody else, because you can't really inhabit someone else whilst you're still trying to hide parts of yourself.



And so even when you are on stage, playing another role, it's really important that you are not trying to hide parts of yourself that you're not efforting, pretending to be better than you are in your head. That you just strip back and you are being. And when you strip back and you're being that allows you so much more space for the technical proficiency. That allows you more headspace to actually let go and lean into the performance.



And that's how it gives your audience more because your audience is there to be impacted by what you do. Whether it's public speaking, singing, acting, dancing, whatever the performance, you want to move them in some way you want to stimulate them to think, to feel, you want to impact them, because that's where brilliance comes in. So you, by letting go and stripping back and being, you give your audience the opportunity to experience brilliance and you give yourself the opportunity to be brilliant, because you will have so much more space and energy to be brilliant when you're not trying to layer on all these different ways of being that seem to be crowbarred in there, when you are just allowing yourself to be brilliant.



Now, that doesn't mean to say that there isn't work that goes on behind the scenes in rehearsal space, in the practice, to make sure that you have all the building blocks in place for that. But what it does mean is that when you get on stage, having put all those building blocks in place, you're not then sabotaging them, by overthinking by efforting. By pretending by not being present, you are able to be present and be yourself. And that's the way that's the only way you have a chance to be brilliant.



So the biggest block to brilliance for me, is control. When you're trying to control a performance, when you're trying to manipulate it, guarantee it to be perfect, you preclude the possibility, you make it impossible to be brilliant. Because when you're trying to control it means you will start to effort, you will start to strain, which creates rigidity and tension. And it means you step away from being authentic. So it promotes inauthenticity. And that means that your audience isn't getting the best of you. And they know it.



If you think about a brilliant performance, you have witnessed a brilliant performance you've experienced, when I ask people, you know, what's the best performance you've ever seen. And again, whether it's public speaking, dancing, acting, singing, it always comes down to the same thing. It comes down to believability, to they seemed effortless, it seemed easy, and although you know, you can tell they're working hard, it doesn't seem like that effort is going into tension and control. That effort is going into expression, and connection.



Brilliance doesn't come from getting everything right. That's accuracy. You know, getting everything right is about being accurate. Accuracy hasn't has an element of boring to it. Brilliance comes from moving your audience, connecting with your audience, impacting your audience. And you impact them best by being you. As famously Oscar Wilde is misattributed with the phrase "Be yourself, everyone else is taken." I prefer Be yourself, you will only ever be second best at being someone else, and trust that brilliance comes from that.



Because I say the irony is that as my client noted, technical proficiency improves when you aim for authenticity, and it actually decreases when you aim for perfection. So take a moment and think about this. If you got up in front of your audience, and trusted that you could do this. How much more relaxed would you be? How much more open to connecting with your audience? And how much more opportunity would there be for you to show your genuine brilliance?



If there's one thing I want you to take away from this it's that this is a scary process, which is why we resist it so much. We resist being ourselves because fundamentally so many of us, I think almost all of us believes that, in some way, We're not enough. But the truth is the not enough is when we're trying to be different when we're trying to control, when we're trying to manipulate, when we're trying to perfect, when we're efforting. When we strip that back and let go of all our fears and insecurities to just be ourselves, it gives us space to communicate with the audience, it gives us space to inhabit another character if we are acting, it gives us space to let go and allow our technique to be the best it can be. It gives us space to be the best we can be, to be ourselves to be our true selves.



And it gives us space to allow our time technical proficiency to shine. When you're not self sabotaging, when you're not self criticising, when you're not pulling yourself apart and trying to control and manipulate everything, it actually gives you space to improve.



Thank you very much for listening. I'm Hattie Voelcker fom Find Your True Voice.