The 5 ‘A’s of Performance Mindset – Audience

In this series I look at the 5 As of Performance Mindset to set out the 5 most important aspects of mastering your mindset, and give you tools to do just that.

What you think about your audience has a huge impact on how you perform. So often what performers think about an audience is limited to what the audience will think of them as a performer. 

This episode is all about how you view your audience, and how to view them in a way that will supercharge your performance.

The 5 'A's - Part 2

The Courageous Performer Podcast

The 5 'A's of Performance Mindset - Part 2 - Audience

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 this is number two in the series on the 5 A's of Performance Mindset. Last time I talked about anxiety, and today I'm going to talk about audience. Because quite frankly, they are the reason it's a performance. So whether the audience is 1 or 50, 000, the reason we are worried about it is because they exist is because we're putting ourselves in front of an audience knowing that they will judge us.

Now we're not necessarily putting ourselves out to be judged. Although in some circumstances you are. However Humans are humans and we know people will judge us. So I want to deep dive into who the audience are and how you can think about them in a completely different way so that your anxiety doesn't get raised and so that you can have a great performance mindset when you put yourself out there.

The first thing to remember [00:01:00] about the audience is that they're human and somebody said this the other day and it reminded me I say it quite often, they are not this judgmental mass but so often we can put them all together and just think about them judging us and they become 'A thing'. So they're not a bunch of individuals, they are just the audience.

And that makes them feel so much more daunting. And that can be even if they're just one person, they become a job title, they become, who you perceive them to be, what you think their judgment will be, they become something dehumanized. So the first thing is to remember that they are human. They put their socks and pants on in the morning, hopefully, and they have all their worries and insecurities too.

I've been doing this job looking at people and understanding people for oh, 25 years now through being a barrister and now through being a coach [00:02:00] and I haven't met anyone who has got it all sorted. I haven't met anyone who doesn't have their own insecurities and vulnerabilities and worries. And that includes people who sit on audition panels.

People have this view that audition panels are there and they're judgmental and they have this agenda. But they're just... people and they've come and some of them worry about what the other people on the audition panel think. They have a job to do. Will they do a good enough job? What will the people on the panel think of their job when they've chosen the person and they end up doing the job or going to the college? You know, will their choice be a good choice? They can do their job well or badly? And that's what they're worried about because you are not the center of their universe. You are in, you are just a small orbiting body in their universe. They are the center of their universe and they will be wanting to do a good job.

They may be having a good day or [00:03:00] a bad day. But they are essentially human. And that's what I love about looking people dead in the eye. That's what I love about eye contact. Is that you see people's humanities when, humanity, when you look people in the eye, when you look them really in the eye, you see how human they are.

You see their vulnerabilities, their strengths, the lovely things about them. And you can really see the person. Which is why we avoid eye contact. Because we don't want people to really see us. Because often we're worried that they'll see the bad bits of us. But actually when you make eye contact, it's that wonderful connection, human to human.

So number one is remember that they are human. Number two, remember that they have a different agenda to you. The agendas may cross over, but they have a different agenda to you. to you. And this is where the relationship with perfection comes in because we might hear that we've sung a wrong note or we've said a wrong word or we've stumbled over something.

They might not notice that at all because it's [00:04:00] not top of their priority list. Their priority list might be enjoyment, if they're watching a play. Their priority, top of their priority list might be information, if they're listening to you giving a speech. If they are an audition panel, their priority is finding the right person or people to give a place to, to offer a role to.

That's their priority. If you talk about music college, they're looking for potential. They're not only looking at where you are and how well you do now, but they're looking for your potential, your ability to cope with being at music college. If they're looking to give you a job, then they're looking at whether they want to work with you, whether they think you're capable of doing a good job, whether you'll be flexible, open, all these other things.

So that wrong note might not be what they care about. And I have a great example to give. I've just been reminded by a client, a singer who sang in a competition and forgot the [00:05:00] words and she'd worked with me so she trusted that something would come to fill in the gap. And it did and she won the competition.

So something that she would have beaten herself up for before, she didn't, which meant that she stayed present, stayed doing a brilliant performance, such a brilliant performance, she actually won the competition. And that's not the only story, I remember my singing teacher talking about somebody who was put through to the final of a competition.

And the judge said, I know you sang wonderfully, uh, serbocroat, I think he referred it to, uh to it as, uh, for verse two. But she got through and actually he, um, credited her with keeping going, keeping present, keeping in the performance, even though she'd forgotten the words.

So their agenda is different to yours and it isn't perfection.

They're looking to meet their goals. In that moment and remember that and you can sometimes try and work out what their goals are and you'll make their day if you can [00:06:00] meet their goals.

Number three, judgment. Now, as I said at the beginning, what makes us nervous is we know they're going to judge us and they are going to judge us.

But because they have a different agenda to you, they will judge you differently. They won't judge you the same way you judge you. They won't do what we think they will do, which is judge us, and we impose our judgment of ourselves, our negative judgment of ourselves, into their heads. We impose it on them and think that that's what they think of us.

But they don't, because they have different priorities. And nine times out of ten they're less critical. So just as I say, people were put through to finals, um people won competitions singing the wrong words. That's because The priority of getting the words right wasn't top of the judge's, priority list.

Actually, the performance in engaging, [00:07:00] um, and communicating was much higher up. So, they won't judge you the way you judge you. They will have a completely different agenda and they'll probably be nicer.

That brings me to number four. They will probably be nicer. They might not be nicer. But this is where I come to my favourite quote.

"The sooner we learn that other people's responses to us say more about their stuff than our stuff, the happier we will be." And this is where it comes back to feedback. If someone gives you negative feedback, the questions to ask are 1. Are they right? What is your opinion of their opinion? And if they're right, great.

  1. Was the delivery nice? Because if the delivery wasn't nice, um, as the Dalai Lama once said, insults are like gifts. You don't have to accept them. So you can say, I don't like the delivery and I don't like the content, or I don't like the delivery and I like the content. The [00:08:00] content was useful. Um, Or you can say, actually they said it perfectly nicely and I see what, they have a point and that's something I would like to work on.

But you get to process their feedback. But some of it might be their stuff. They might have stuff going on which makes them feel insecure or in some way the need to treat you the way they've just treated you. That says something about them, not something about you. The way feedback is given often as not not says something about people and if it's completely off the chart wrong then that might say something about where that you still can take value from it sometimes.

If you do an assessment saying, Do I think they have a point? Yes, they do. I'm going to take that and work on it. No, they don't. I'm going to let it go. So, remember your audience being human, having their own agenda and, um, judging you in a way [00:09:00] different to you, may sometimes come at you in an unreasonable way.

They aren't always right. So that's number four.

And number five is we can't mind read them. As much as we want, I am quite a good empath after years and years of training as a coach and watching people as a barrister. But one area of being an empath that I am hopeless at is judging what other people think of me.

And I have a wonderful example from a client I worked with many years ago. And, um, she talked about someone who would come to her performances, sit in the front row, and would look... utterly bored, um, during, during her performances would look up at the sky with their arms folded and she just assumed he didn't like them.

Okay. Then when she, um, stopped he came up to her and said, Oh, I can't believe you're stopping. I've loved your performances. Your [00:10:00] voice is amazing and your performance is just transcendent, they take me to another place. He had loved her performances so her assessment of his opinion from his face was wrong.

We are really picking up what people really think. Now you might get a general feel, this is going well, this is going badly. Try to avoid looking at people for specific feedback because you might not see what's really going on in their head. Instead, focus on what you're doing, bring the focus back to what you have an influence over, which is what you're doing and meeting the audience's needs.

Go back to their agenda, their, their goals. How do you meet their goals and their agenda? Because if you do that, then you will give a better performance from your audience's perspective.

I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice. Thank you very much for [00:11:00] listening.