Before the day
- Make sure you have practised so you feel prepared. Could you rehearse on a zoom with a friend or relative so you can see how it will feel to perform online?
- Watch some videos of other speakers and performers to get inspired. See our suggestions here (link)
- Record your performance and watch it back – you’ll see where you want to improve.
- Ensure that your words are secure if you have learnt a poem or are performing a piece of drama. If you know that you are sure of your words you will be able to give a more confident performance.
- Make sure you have access to Zoom on your device.
On the day
Before the session starts
- Get to the zoom room with plenty of time to spare. Five to ten minutes before your allocated time is ideal.
- Check that all camera, microphone, internet connection and all of your technology is working.
- Position yourself in front of the camera (watch our video for top tips on this) and try to make sure you have a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted.
- If you have a friend or family member in the same household logging in to watch you, make sure they are in another room (or at least on headphones) to avoid feedback noise.
- Relax – some breathing exercises and exercises to relax the shoulders and neck can help enormously and can be done from the comfort of your own home.
When it’s your turn
- Start confidently with a big smile!
- Remember to speak clearly and loudly enough that the online audience can hear you, but you don’t need to project in the same way you would need to fill a big room.
- If you sit up or stand up straight with your head up and your shoulders back everyone will think you’re confident, even if you’re really feeling nervous.
- Slow down! It’s not a race, so take your time and don’t rush your words. Clear articulation is a must. Nerves tend to make all of us speak a bit faster, so be aware of this and tell yourself to speak more slowly and remember to breathe.
- Don’t worry if your judge is sometimes looking down – they are making notes as you speak but they are giving you’re their full attention.
- And above all…ENJOY IT!
Extra tips for the individual categories:
- Think about the character you are portraying. Ask yourself some of the following questions and jot down your answers – they are the clues to your character and can ‘unlock ‘the scene for you:
1. What do other characters say or think about my character?
2. What does my character say or think about them?
3. What does my character think about himself/herself?
4. When was he/she born?
5. Who is my character talking to – a friend? An enemy? A
teacher? A parent?
6. Does the mood of my character change during the piece? If so, how?
- Consider your stage area carefully. Don’t place yourself too close to the screen or too far away. Somewhere in the middle is just about right. Remember that acting online is going to require different movements from when you’re acting in a large room or on a stage – If you choose to move, keep the movements subtle and precise and stay on camera at all times. Gesture and posture changes may be more effective than walking around.
- You may choose to look directly into the camera during your performance or you may look elsewhere imagining a ‘fourth wall’. Or you may change during the monologue.
- The judge will be able to see you close up so make sure you think about facial expressions as part of how you create your character.
- Using vocal variety is a terrific way to convey meaning and emotion and to engage your audience.
- Go through the section you have chosen carefully. Check how to pronounce difficult words. Do you really understand the words? (Your audience won’t if you don’t!)
- Note the signal words that tell you how something should be said, e.g.: whispered, shouted, angrily, sadly.
- Underline any important words that need to stand out.
- Mark where you want to pause
- Mark places where you can look up – it so important to look up at your audience sometimes when you are reading.
- Make sure you are not holding the book in front of your face or so far down that we only see the top of your head.
- Go through the poem carefully. Check how to pronounce difficult words. Do you really understand the words? (Your audience won’t if you don’t!)
- Underline any important words that need to stand out and mark where you want to pause – this will help while you are learning the poem.
- Keep practising those words until you know them really well! You can practice in the shower, on the bus, on the swing – anywhere!
- It’s fine to use some simple gestures but don’t act out all the words of the poem with your arms or you will distract from the words.
- The best way to communicate the meaning and emotion of the poem is with vocal variety and appropriate facial expressions.
- Try and have a strong opening so that you make an impression from the beginning – think in advance of a powerful way to grab the audience’s attention – and a strong closing so that you leave them on a high note.
- Try and sound like you care about what you’re talking about – if you sound bored, your audience will be bored too.
- Try and pick interesting language – if you just say “good” and “bad” all the time it won’t be as effective as picking your words carefully.
- Use variety – in your voice, body language and facial expressions – that way you’ll keep everyone’s attention. Make sure your body language and tone of voice is appropriate to what you’re saying – if you’re talking about something sad don’t smile and vice versa.
- Look directly into the camera and let your audience know you’re talking to them.