I had an audition for a talent agency in San Francisco yesterday--they're interested in representing me, so who am I to say no?--and it was all I could do to maintain an even strain. (It's a crazy concept to begin with...I live in Sacramento, so for all intents and purposes, I agreed to drive an hour-and-a-half, spend $30 on gas, tolls, and parking, give a three minute audition, then drive an hour-and-a-half back home and hope they liked me!) The audition itself could have been a disaster, but the experience reassured me that I can walk the walk when I talk about presentation and speaking skills. Here's what I learned:
- Practice doesn't make perfect--perfect practice makes perfect. When the situation looks and feels surreal, it's always good to know that your performance can't go wrong because you've rehearsed it enough so that the words seem effortless. A good thing, considering all the obstacles I encountered.
- Check out the venue before you deliver the content. The only big mistake I made...because I assumed (yeah, yeah, I know what happens when you assume) the audition space would be comfortable. It turned out to be an old office that was turned into a video room with just a camera, a carpet, and a piece of masking tape to mark where I would stand. I should have asked to see the room first, then planned my performance around it.
- When you're not comfortable with the performance setting, change it. My monologue called for me to sit in a chair. I had practiced for over a week in a chair. There was no chair. So--I asked for a chair. No big deal.
- Preparing to fail can be more important than preparing to succeed. What I mean is, it's just as important to prepare for disaster as it is for success. Because they didn't have a chair (or it was too much trouble to get one.) Fortunately, I had rehearsed standing up almost as much as I had sitting down, so I automatically knew how to adapt.
- Be professional. Be pleasant. Be persuasive. Nothing can shoot down a talented speaker like a bad attitude. Despite the setbacks, the spartan setting, the rush of the process, I was determined to make a great impression. It must've worked, because I got a thumbs-up from the assistant who handled the video camera.
It's great to be vindicated. Let's see if it translates into some paying gigs.