How to Perform as an Introvert

We live in a day and age that consistently exalts extroversion. In some senses, this has always been the case. Because they gain energy from being around other people, extroverts are usually the life of the party. They often volunteer for people-oriented tasks. This affinity for being in contact with people allows extroverts to easily gain attention and accolades from the world.

Yet, introverts offer much as well. They give off a quiet warmth and are usually good listeners. Because they lose energy when around others, they are often overlooked. Unfortunately, assumptions are made concerning their skills and abilities. One of these overlooked areas is the ability to perform in front of others. Many assume that introverts are shy wall-flowers who cannot perform well. Yet, it can be done. Introverts just naturally cannot perform the same way extroverts do. Introverts won’t be stereotypical, overly-dramatic performers.

Extroverts will naturally gain energy from the crowd when they perform. This is usually a strength. They can easily read the energy of the audience and other performers in the room, feed off of it, and even re-energize it if it begins to wane. The downside is that if the audience or other performers are low energy, extroverts will struggle to find their own energy.

Introverts will have the same energy level regardless of the energy in the room. However, Introverts must consider certain elements if they are to perform well. While I cannot speak for all introverts, I will let you in on some of my own methods for performance. These recommendations are for solo performance only. A director or conductor needs to make other considerations before he or she leads.

First, I don’t worry much about the energy level of the room; I concentrate on my own performance. Is my own energy level sufficient? Is my interpretation of the song/character good? Is it authentic? Are my technique, artistry, and musical precision communicating this authenticity?

Celebrated novelist Ray Bradbury once stated that great works of literature have “pores” in them. By this, he meant that great works of literature speak to the universal human condition (e.g. love, joy, death, sorrow, etc.). The stories feel real. So too, must great performances have this same level of intimacy. If I concentrate on my own performance, I find that I don’t lose energy, my interpretation and technique are consistently good, and the audience and other performers are energized and emotionally moved.

Second, I strive to stay completely in the moment. Introverts (especially intuitive ones) are often stuck inside their own heads. I use this head-stuckedness to my advantage. During the performance, I  focus on the work as a whole and where I currently fit. This allows me to chart where I’m going and helps me to be precise. It also enables improvisation, which is necessary for any good, truly moving performance. Improvisation ensures that no two performances will be exactly the same, the performer will take artistic chances, and that he can adapt when other performers mess up or if something unexpected happens.

Doing these things keeps me centered during performance. Being centered offers a lot of positives. Most notably, I don’t really get stage fright. This should help you perform as well.

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