The 5 ‘A’s of Performance Mindset – Assessment

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.

This episode is about the best way to assess your performance, and to maximise what you get from that assessment.

How do you assess your performance?

It's through assessing your work you can make improvements and become better and better as a performer. But when and how you do this matters, and can hugely impact how you perform and how useful the assessment is.

Podcast 33 - The 5 'A's - Part 3

The Courageous Performer Podcast

The 5 'A's of Performance Mindset - Part 3 - Assessment

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 the third in my series of five, on The Five A's of Performance Mindset.

We have done anxiety and audience and today we're looking at Assessment because assessing your performance is really important for making progress and improvements. However, it can also be the source of downfall for many many performers. I want to look at two aspects of this because they are the two most important aspects, in my humble opinion. Number one is when you assess yourself and number two is how. So let's take a look at when to assess yourself because the temptation is to assess yourself in the moment as you're performing.  As my singing teacher says

"Don't listen to yourself. You can't hear yourself the way the audience hears you."

Now that's one reason not to listen to yourself. The other reason from a performance mindset perspective is that when you start to do an assessment of yourself, if you start a process and it's an ongoing process, then this can lead to your conscious mind getting involved with things and trying to correct things that have gone wrong. Trying to make it better and that can be the source of tension and overthinking and it makes things worse not better. Now I don't know if you've ever been in a performance but I certainly have where I've started to overthink and then I've watched as the car crash happens in slow motion, the car crash of my performance, as it gets worse and worse and worse as I get tighter and tighter.

And I start trying to control things, I worry about what's coming up, I worry about what I've done, and I get myself in a right old muddle. If you notice something in the space you go, "That didn't go how I wanted it to." Then notice it and let it go so that you can come back to it after the event. If you hold on to it, it will cause this self sabotaging overthinking and tension as you try and fix it with overthinking. So let it go in the moment. I watched a really, really good performer who has really, really good, healthy self confidence and they told me that they record all of their performances and I think this is a brilliant idea and I speak from personal experience here because I did a performance a few months ago and for me It was terrible and my assessment of it was that it was terrible.

I went back and I watched the recording and yeah, there were bits that I didn't like, there were bits I could have done better, but actually it was a lot better than I had assessed it to be in the moment. So recording can be a great way of doing the assessment of your performance because you are closer to the space of being the audience.

You can hear yourself from an audience's perspective. Not totally. But much more so, and you can be much more analytical, and I'll get to the how in a minute. So assessing yourself in the moment is not only, um, unreliable, but it's also potentially dangerous because it can make things so much worse.

Instead, let it go and go back to your fundamental principles of trusting yourself, connecting with your audience, delivering your message, and focusing outwards, not inwards. So let's look at the how now. Because for so many, the how of assessment is often binary. It was a good performance. It was a bad performance.

I did well. I did badly. They liked it. They didn't like it. But a performance is so much more nuanced than that. And good and bad doesn't help us. There is no... learning to be gained from good and bad, that binary position. So what I do is I talk about nonjudgmental observation and this wonderful phrase, "That was interesting."

"It was interesting that I didn't hit the top note because in practice I can hit that very easily." "It was interesting that I struggled to remember that section of it." "It was interesting that my nerves kicked in at this stage." Because when you use that phrase, it gives you tools to go, "What is the reason that happened?"

And then you can start to solve that. You can start to find solutions to make it more like you want it to be. If you go, "Oh goodness, it was awful. I didn't do this and I didn't do that and I didn't do the other." And you go into that shame and that cringe, you're not giving yourself the tools to make it better in the future.

You're just giving yourself a stick to beat yourself with. So the HOW is very much more, how do you be objective? How do you seek other people's opinions and assess them objectively? So somebody can give you an opinion, you then get to have an opinion on their opinion. Do you agree with them? Do they have a point?

Cast away the way they have given the point because they may have done it in a lovely way, they may have done it in a rather knives out way. Do they have a point? Is there some truth to what they say? Can you learn from it? If you can't... Throw it away. It's no use to you. If you can, what do you want to take from that?

And how do you want to move forward? And this is so important because when you take the judgment out of your assessment, it empowers you to be much more analytical, which empowers you to make the changes that you want to make. So in terms of assessment, when you assess, don't assess in the moment.

Notice in the moment and let it go. But you are not going to get an objective assessment in the moment. And it's not going to be helpful if you use that non objective, perspective. And that non objective assessment, it's more likely to be negative, but even if it's positive, and this is the fascinating thing, even if you give yourself a positive assessment, it can also affect your performance negatively because you go, "That was brilliant, how do I do it again?"

And you start trying to force something as opposed to going back to the principles of your basic technique, trusting that your body, that you have learnt your basic technique, whether it's just to speak, or it's to sing, or it's to dance, or you've learnt the words and the acting technique, then you layer on what you want to communicate and you focus outwards and you communicate to the audience.

Going back to those basic principles will enhance your performance. Trying to mess with the technique as you're doing it is unlikely to help unless you're just thinking let go and splat and relax, it's unlikely to help and you're likely to start overthinking. So assessment in the moment is not going to be helpful.

Definitely record, definitely get feedback and then take an objective stance on that recording and that feedback and decide what steps you want to take next. Number two is the how, and this is what comes back to this objectiveness, take out the judgment. Take out the binary. It was good or bad and go "It was interesting.

I wonder the reason that happened I wonder the reason that happened." And most of all over all of this be kind to yourself. Although we have this secret belief that we are, unlike everybody else, we are people who need a boot up the behind to get moving, and I can't tell you how many performers say this to me.

They say, "You don't get it. I'm different. I need the boot up the arse. I know it works." And it doesn't. It doesn't work any better for you than it does for everybody else. It might do in the moment, but the price you pay for bullying yourself is a long term reduction in your self esteem. So be kind. Be analytical. Be non judgmental, and say, "what do I want to do about this, that, the other?

What did I like? How did I do the thing that I liked? What was the reason that worked and that didn't? What was the reason I was communicating there and I wasn't here?" Because when you start to look at it in this way, you give yourself the tools to make the improvements and to go and seek expert support and guidance in this because that is where you make the real leaps forward, because somebody else can help you.

You can't see your own blind spots often as not. So as a coach, I record myself and I send it off to a mentor and I get their feedback on what I'm doing well and what I could improve on because they are the expert and they can see things that I can't see, because we can't assess ourselves completely objectively.

So, think about when you assess yourself, think about how you assess yourself, and think about how you want to move forward from what you discover from your assessment. I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice. Thank you for listening.