Learning Your Stuff – Part 2

What is the best way to learn your material. This is part two of my two parter all about the process I teach to give you the best chance of remembering everything..

If you want to join me live in London for a workshop on my full preparation process take a look here: Free Your Voice

If you can't make it live, you can also download the process here: Free Your Voice Course

If you missed Part 1 you can find it here: Learning Your Stuff - Part 1

Podcast Titles (2)

The Courageous Performer Podcast

Learning Your Stuff - Part 2

Read the episode transcript here:


Hi, I'm Hattie Voelcker. From Find Your True Voice, and welcome to part two of Learning Your Stuff. My process, really a look at my process for learning your material, whether it's as Part 1 was covering, stuff you're performing that somebody else has written or that you've written before, or whether in this part, we're going to be looking at performing stuff that you're creating in the moment. You might have a structure to it, bullet points if you're a public speaker, but you're creating it there and then. You might totally be creating it, which is what I do a lot of the time, when I do my mini videos, I just create it on the spur of the moment is off the cuff.



For today, I've, I've got my bullet points. So I know the things I want to touch on, and I'll explain a little bit more about my process in terms of this, because I think you'll find it really helpful, because it really matters in terms of what you give your audience and how it makes it so much easier for you to remember what you're going to say or sing.



But I don't know, before I get into that, I don't know what, what it's like for you, but I always find this time of year. Really interesting. In some ways, it's really challenging, because it's still quite dark. And I don't know about you, but I suffer from a little bit of SAD when when there's less light around. So I've got a sad lamp and I sit in front of that. And I like to get out and walk as much as I can. And yet I'm looking out and there's a beautiful tree outside with cherry blossom on. And all of this sense of opportunity for the new year ahead, and then I can turn that into pressure of what am I going to achieve, and I think sometimes I forget, but it's nice to just settle back into that idea of being present. And it's I was talking with a client this morning about that whole idea of getting back to enjoying what we do, and seeing the enjoyment and having fun, because I think that's when we produce our best work. And just looking at the cherry blossom, and that whole idea of just letting what naturally comes out come out.



But I do struggle, I struggle with a lack of light a struggle. I don't like the heat, and I don't like the cold. I like it very temperate. So I suppose I live in the right country.



Anyway, putting that to one side, let's look at learning your stuff. This part, as I said, is much more focused on public speaking or when you're creating in the moment or building on a skeleton structure that you have. But I would say singers and actors, people who are performing other people's works or works that have been written, you've written before, pay attention, because I'm going to be talking about the narrative and emotional journey of a performance, and these are really, really important.



But before I get to that, I want you to think about the reason you are performing. So whether it's standing up in front of a meeting or standing on a stage and singing, what's the reason you are there. And there can be all sorts of reasons there can be I love to sing, and I want to share it with people, it can be, I want to get ahead in my job, and I have to do this, I have no alternative if I want to get in my job, get ahead in my job. And I want you to just think about your reason for being there. And then I want you to think about your audience's reason for being there. Because that will be slightly different. Some of them might not want to be there. Some of them might be there under duress, and hopefully most of them aren't. Some of them might be there for entertainment. And if you're talking about an audition panel, they're looking for the right person to fill the role. They if it's a business meeting, is there certain information they want to get? Because these are really important bits of information when constructing a presentation,  when constructing a performance.



Because really the Nirvana the best place to be when you're creating your own performance that way is at the intersection of both those things where you're both meeting your need to be there your reason for being there, and your audience's reason for being there. And if there are people that don't want to be there, how do you make it nicer? How do you make it so it's actually pleasurable for them to be there? So just have a dig into that and cover some bases. You know, what are the different reasons? Yes, it's important for your job. Consider not doing it, what would happen to your job, you know, what would happen? Is there some other reason you might be there? Let's look at the reason you're there for that meeting. Are there people in the room that you really want to take on board this information?



Yeah, you love singing Is there somebody you really want to impress or connect with, and dig into that and dig into the various reasons there might be the the superficial reasons, the reasons, you might think "They're there to judge me, it's an audition panel!" But actually, they're there to find someone for the role. Are they there to prove themselves? So quite often, you have to think that the audience wants to be a good audience, in some ways, they may have a job to do. So, start off with that, because that's the basis for your performance, whatever comes next is on the basis of meeting those needs. Because the more you can meet those needs, the more successful your performance will be.



Now, I want to dig into the narrative and emotional journey both exist, whether it's an information talk, or a song or story, it doesn't matter. They all have a narrative and emotional journey, because there's a place you want your audience to start. There are places you're going to take them through, and there's a place you want them to end. So the narrative journey for an information talk might be, you start with them not knowing certain information, and you end with them knowing certain information. In terms of, for example, let me take this podcast episode that I'm doing. There's, there are bits that I want you to go away with, and there are bits that I want to be able to share with you. Part of my sharing is the emotional journey, and the so not only is there a place intellectually, I want you to, to move to there is also an emotional part of that. And that is really important, to me having a system of successful performance. Because if I can make a space in which you feel a certain way, if I can talk in a certain way, give you information in a way that makes you feel more comfortable, more self assured, then I am achieving my goal for the presentation. And I'm probably achieving your goal in there as well. Because the reason you're likely listening to me is you're somebody who wants to be able to do a better job performing wants to have more connection with your audience, wants to have more confidence when you're performing.



So if I can help you develop that through an emotional journey, where you start off with feeling less secure about it and end up feeling more secure, I taken you on that emotional journey. If we relate this back to songs, or pre written scripts, there will be already written and narrative and emotional journey, someone, even in an aria where the narrative journey is short, as I said last time, there still is movement in the journey. Because as the person's thoughts change, then their story changes. And there's an emotional journey, especially in arias, I mean, my goodness, there's always an emotional journey, because there's lots of processing.



And so it relates to whether you are doing a presentation like I'm doing today, or a pre written script. And it's really important to understand that. Because if you, if you look at it in depth, you then can see how it fits in with your wants, and your audience's wants. And when you develop your plan, what you want to do is make sure that your narrative journey and your emotional journey, take them from one place to another, meet their needs, their wants, and meet your wants as well. And then as you construct your bullet points, you can go right, is this part of the narrative journey? Is this part of the emotional journey? If so, what part does it play? What role does it play in what I want to achieve? What role does it play in what my audience wants to achieve from sitting in those seats and listening or watching me? And then you build it up that way. And once you have these building blocks, or rather they're more like pegs on a washing line, once you have these pegs on a washing line, and you know, I want to hit that one, that one, that one, that one and that one. And I know the reason I want to hit this one, this one, this one, this one and this one, then you can then have more trust that you can weave your way in between those pegs.



That you can tuck on your own. As long as you know the next pair you're hitting is that one And you know, the reason you're hitting that peg, because, you know, you can talk. So let's start, if you can talk to yourself in a space and talk yourself through this, then it's capable for you to your story, you are capable of talking this way. If you can talk one on one, maybe just with one particular type of person, then you are capable of talking. If you can take it and talk in a small group, then you are capable of doing that talk, of going, this is what I want to say. And just we don't think about every word we say, when we're just talking with friends, or we're talking with colleagues. There is always a space in which we don't think about what we're talking about, and yet we're able to talk so we know we're capable, it's then we know that there's an influence of what we think about the audience and, and their impact on how we how we trust ourselves to be able to talk because it's only when we start to undermine that trust, that we start to self sabotage, and forget things and forget where we're going and lose track.



So having these pegs will help you trust yourself that you know where you're going, you know why you're going there, you're going from A to B, B to C, C to D, D to E, and these are the reasons you're doing it. So as long as you tap a, b, c, d, all you have to do is put the words in to fill the gaps between the two. And that way, you can be more relaxed, and the more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to hit those points. And the more likely, the less likely you are to doubt yourself. And so that doubt doesn't creep in. So constructing this it this way, knowing what the journey is not only enables you to trust yourself, which means you're relaxed and less likely to self sabotage. It also means that when you start to lose track, you have a story. And if you look at all memorisation books, they all talk about having a story, if you look at the memorisation tricks people have, they say, attribute the images or labels to thing and then build a story around it. Because as human beings, we're much more capable of remembering a story than just individual points. So put them into a story. Not only does that help your audience, buy into that, and follow you and stay with you because they want to know the end of the story.



It also helps you remember. So what this can do for you is one, it can give you a plan that makes sense. And make sure that you meet yours, and your audience's wants from the performance to by having that plan, it can give you confidence, it can make you feel more relaxed. And if you're more relaxed, it's easier for you to remember and to connect with your audience. And three, it's so much easier to remember a narrative or emotional, and emotional story, it's so much easier to remember a story than individual points. So you're not then holding on to lots of individual points, you're holding on to a story. And we might not remember every detail of the Three Little Pigs when we tell the story. But we can all make a good story of it. And as long as you know, you've hit a, b, c, d, and e and those are the important bits, then you can also have faith that you have remembered the important parts of your talk. Because without fail, if I'm talking in this way, I will come off and go oh, I could have said that or I could have said that. Or before I start talking, I'll think "Oh I'd like to say this and I like to say that." But it's more important that I weave a story and connect with my audience  than I hit all of the little points I might want to say. As long as woven into the story other big important points, then I will be doing my job and I will be doing it a lot better than I might if I'm constantly thinking I must remember to say that I must remember to say that I must remember to say that. And you can probably already hear in my voice. That sounds like you're beating yourself up that sounds like you're bullying yourself which again is going to heighten your nerves and make it harder for you to for you to remember.



So, this strategy will help you be kind to yourself, will help you relax, will help you remember, will help you engage your audience and connect with your audience and hold their attention for longer. As I said this also applies to if you are performing a work written earlier or by somebody else because if you dig into what the narrative story is what the emotional story is, and that is how you learn it, it's easier for you to remember a story than individual notes and individual words.



I hope that makes sense. And as I said before, this is kind of part of my Free Your Voice process. There are other resources that are put against this podcast so that you can access the other resources, one of which is my live event on the 15th of April, which, as I say, is half price until Oh, until the 15th of March. So it's only £20 for an entire day workshop because I wanted to make it as accessible as possible. Also, all the profits from that will go to my local food bank, because both my boys have volunteered or actually one of them has volunteered, one's about to volunteer for my local food bank, and I know the person who runs it very well and she's an amazing woman. So for me, it was an important part of, last year I gave the proceeds of the the event to a different charity, this time, I want to give the profits to the food bank because I think that's where my heart lies at the moment. My heart lies in a lot of different places. But right now I know that people are struggling and I want to be able to help them so I've made it hopefully as accessible as possible and I want to do it for a good cause. So I hope you can help me with that and join me on the day. It would be lovely to see you there.



But thank you for listening and I will talk to you in the next episode. I'm Hattie Voelcker, from Find Your True Voice