Channeling Your Inner Rock Star/Overcome Shyness in Public Speaking
I'm delighted and honored to welcome Kim Hornsby to the blog today. Kim Hornsby is a legend in her own mind (her words, not mine). A former singer, she opened shows for Jamie Foxx, Jay Leno, Bob Hope, even Maya Angelou in the Hawaiian convention circuit and was the star of an international infomercial. An award winning stage actress for Evita and Annie Get your Gun, Kim is no stranger to self-promotion. Her thirty-year career in show biz prepped her to teach the online course Channeling Your Inner Rock Star, with a unique approach to abolishing shyness.
Here's Kim: No one is born a rock star, complete with over-the-top confidence and leather pants. An individual has to work for that. (And grow into the pants.) Ever heard the Nickelback song “We all just want to be big rock stars, live in hilltop mansions, driving fancy cars”? Well some actually live this way but most celebrities do not.
These days we use the term Rock Star to mean someone who’s achieved success in their field. Eg) Wow, kids, you finished homework. You are a Rock Star.
We tend to look at those who’ve achieved enormous success performing in a rock band as beyond ordinary. But remember, even Pat Benatar and Tommy Lee have baby pictures. They put their pants on one leg at a time and catch colds.
My Point: One must work at developing an image to fool the public into believing that you are special. It’s referred to as Smoke and Mirrors. And it’s human nature to want to believe it true, to see someone as super-talented, uber-wonderful. That’s not to say if you follow the advice I’m going to give you, you need to be so conceited your head won’t fit through the book store door. Believing in your own PR (public relations) is a slippery slope. A true Rock Star can take out the garbage when not in black leather and chains.
Under the costumes, tattoos, makeup, piercings and hair gel, a Rock Star is simply another person in the world who has insecurities-- a human being who probably feels more comfortable in a larger-than-life personality when greeting the public. I bet Pat Benatar made lots of PB and J’s for neighborhood kids between tours and Tommy Lee played Little League before he joined Metallica.
In my life I have known a few rock stars, celebrities, and movie actors of enormous proportions and I’m here to tell you that off stage and out of makeup, most are a bit shy--Steven Tyler, for example. I took him snorkeling in Hawaii once and he is a quiet man. Jamie Foxx, whose name is actually Eric was raised by his Grandma and is extremely humble. These people created a stage persona and you must too. If shyness is holding you back, you must dig deep to find that inner celebrity that we all have hiding somewhere behind the spleen. Once you find her she will help get through public events that would’ve otherwise leave you shaking in your boots, quivering in your Victoria’s Secrets, sweating through your sweat suits. (Note: Unless you are a sports star, I highly recommend you refrain from wearing sweat suits when trying to be a Rock Star.)
On that note, the first step to Rock Stardom is physical presentation. Go into your closet and find yourself an outfit that says “__”. You must insert your celebrity/pen name here and if you don’t have one I suggest you find one because this is how you will refer to yourself when it’s ‘ShowTime!’
My stage name used to be Kimberley Horn because there were too many syllables in my real name for my former talent agent. Now my pen name is Kim Hornsby. I did not deviate too far from the truth but you see where I’m going with this.
Once you have a few killer outfits that make you feel special, check that the rest of you is ready for the spotlight -- hairstyle, shoes, jewelry. What makes you feel successful enough to have a Lear jet to fly to San Fran for breakfast on the pier? This is the side of you that does not scrub toilets, make school lunches, clip coupons. She takes her pool boy (or husband) to South Beach on Saturday night to dance and sleeps until three the next day. After your have the look, you must make yourself believe how wonderful you are. If you skip this step you’re in trouble. Affirmations, self talk, call it what you want, but do it just before called upon to speak in public.
As you look out on the sea of faces, just remember, do not read your audience too closely. It’s the kiss of death. Just plough through, if you’re giving a key note speech, talking to a group at a book signing, whatever. Don’t assume you know what they are thinking. The expressions on their faces may not reflect their thoughts. Probably won’t if they are listening intently. Take your glasses off, look over heads but don’t read their faces.
I want to introduce to you a character I love to laugh at on SNL, called Shy Ronnie. He is played by Andy Samberg and the only reason he is so drop-dead funny is that we know Andy is not actually shy. The link to see him is at the end of the blog. Were Shy Ronnie a real person, it would be excruciatingly painful to watch him try to rap alongside Rhianna. When asked to speak up, his voice is so miniscule it’s painful to watch. But when his beautiful co-singer leaves the room in frustration, Shy Ronnie takes off. His shyness in front of Rhianna makes him not only unable to do his job but makes him look silly, due to lack of confidence.
Remember this when you are in front of an audience – the people who have paid money or taken time out of their busy lives want to like you. When you open a book, you are hoping that the protagonist is someone to relate to. Likewise, an audience member wants to like you and will give you every possible chance to be worth their time. If they don’t like you (and you will probably never know this), it might be their own problem. Maybe they’re distracted, closed-minded, too focused on their own lives or not ready to listen.
In recap, you must create a celebrity side to yourself complete with a celebrity look (and name) -- an outward appearance that says ‘Someone Special is in the House’, practice self talk and remember the audience wants to like you.
Good luck to all the shy people reading this. Now click on Shy Ronnie and tell me you aren’t this bad!
I am introverted by nature but have learned to fake it well. I hope to share with you, and for you to share with me, tips and suggestions for living as a shy and/or introverted person in an extroverted world.