Performance Anxiety

Since rants kind of derailed any potential chance to talk about this...

I figure I'd bring this up on the forums to get a general idea of how people feel, what they do, what they do not do, and so on.

While I always encouraging seeking answers IC for questions such as stage fright, performance anxiety, and imposter syndrome I think there's also a part of us that can discuss and reason it out on an OoC platform.

This mostly stems from me being very comfortable to roleplay an idea, concept, or what have you.
Just... not being comfortable at all when it comes to a sermon, ritual or prayer.

I could do a presentation on combat, or about a class, or on any of the theocracies scattered across Achaea.

But trying to write anything I listed above for me just causes anxiety and a lot of uncertainty, despite knowing not a lot of bad can really come out of it.

Anyone who previous hated ritualism/sermonism/performing that has gotten over that initial hurdle or fright have any tips? Just band-aid method it and do it quick, short, sweet and with my eyes closed?

Hopefully some discussion will come of this!


  • The way I got over this years ago is basically: just do it. Write to the best of your ability, jump in, and have fun with it

    First, focus on content. Ask for feedback and critiques from people you trust beforehand, as well, as this can help with spotting any -critical- errors with content. Make sure what you're saying it at least 80% accurate (and I say 80% because a lot of things are subject to interpretation). For more abstract things like rituals, sermons, etc... that's really all about personal flare and style and how -you- interpret the religion/ideals you're going to be speaking on.

    Your personal style is something that must be discovered with time and practice. You won't immediately have a presence like some of your veteran ritualists/sermonists, because it'll take time to flesh out and grow into. Do -not- be discouraged because of this. Instead, I urge you to see it as an opportunity to be able to set your own standards. Look at sermons and rituals from others, take what you -really- like, discard everything else. A lot of the way the vets do their rituals is by stealing from others and making it into their own unique recipe. 

    Do not be afraid to ask others for help either. It can be a daunting and incredibly stressful task, but you're in a community that enjoys seeing others thrive and grow. Take advantage of that. Also take advantage of the knowledge other people have.

    At the end of the day though, it's all about taking that first step, and then another. Most importantly: HAVE FUN. If you're not having fun, and you do not feel like what you are writing is fun for you, scrap it and write it in a way -you- enjoy. Fuck everything else. 

    Hope this helps!
  • Echoing both! Bouncing thoughts off others is a great thing in game. And Mhaldor, while we act a bit strict, we know "slaves" are still learning. Showing others ideas opens up a lot to learn or RP, and no one expects you to do perfect. A lot of us still bounce ideas off each other, or show drafts. You're not on your own!

    I'm always free to be annoyed in game, or people like Aegoth who know how to add drama to what you're doing. (Just ask him about goatly dreams sometime).
  • I deal with some pretty bad anxiety when it comes to any sort of writing, myself. The only reason why I managed to start getting a bit better on it on Keorin was to remind myself that her writing wasn't supposed to be my writing. While I don't consider myself a particularly good writer, she has much less education and stuff on those matters, and so if something written by her wasn't great, that was actually probably more consistent with the character.

    I don't know if that's the sort of thing that'll help anyone else, but that's what worked for me - reminding myself over and over again that my character failing at something doesn't need to mean that it's -my- failure, and that she wasn't supposed to be as much of an anxious mess as I am.

    Though believe me, I still get anxious and lock up with plenty of stuff, but this helped me get started!
  • This is such a good topic. For me, it's been helpful to recognize that the feelings of overwhelm come from a place of being a bit too perfecting or having really, tremendously high standards for myself.

    Years ago I had this cool idea about a series of 7-8 sermons, each standalone in their own right. And I had this big outline for how they'd all fit together. At the end there'd be this transcendental moment for the audience where they GOT IT on a new level, knitting everything together in a new light!! 

    And I did all that background work, got to the point that I had to write the damn things, and I couldn't muster up anything remotely usable. I went dormant for 4 RL years.

    When I came back, Targ was hurting so bad for anything remotely resembling roleplay or a morale boost, I just didn't have the luxury of overthinking it. As a result, I'd pick really small pieces to spin up 10-15 mins of content. I set the bar low, which made it easier to clear, and in time that builds confidence and stature. That momentum propels me to tackle bigger projects and do more complex collaborative work. Win-win!

    Also, I'd give some thought to the type of thing you are trying to do - in my experience prayers and sermons can be easier than discussions or rituals. They are less interactive which is a sharp tradeoff, but since you're more in control that can help with anxiety. And again, this is all about finding ways to not let perfect be the enemy of the good (or the eeeevil, as it were). 
  • JurixeJurixe Where you least expect it
    edited April 2020
    We've talked about this a bit in-game before, but basically, there are two main reasons why people have performance anxiety:

    1. Worried they won't be convincing enough to speak on a subject
    2. Worried they'll bore people.

    As others have said, the key to overcoming this is just to jump in and do it. Repetition breeds familiarity, just like presenting in real life.  But here's a few pointers you can do to keep things interesting/worthwhile:

    1. Research your subject thoroughly.
    2. Depending on what type of performance/sermon it is, don't let it drag for too long. Anything over 30 minutes is too long - the sweet spot for a passive audience is around 15-20 minutes at most.
    3. Practice your presentations. This is the time to make adjustments as necessary and check timing, as well as your speed of presentation. Is it easy to understand? Can people read everything at this pace?
    4. Vary it up with emotes/illusions/questions, but don't go overboard with it.
    5. Invite discussion and interaction (get people to chant with you, toss out rhetorical questions, have a short discussion at the end etc) but keep an eye on the time and keep control of the flow of your presentation.
    6. Look at ideas in books and logs for how other people have done it, and see what style you'd like to explore.

    Nicola has touched on this briefly but the goal of these activities shouldn't be to tick off a check box, it should be to encourage interaction and help your character grow. It is a way to give the audience an insight into your personality and thoughts. Even if it 'fails', isn't that an interesting part of character growth that you can explore? Will it have built a fear of public speaking in your character? Or will your character be determined to overcome it and so do more, or get help from people and practice? 

    Bottom line: don't worry about it. You're most likely not going to ace it on your first try, and frankly, that's okay too. Growth is what makes a character interesting. Accept whatever criticism comes and use it to help you do better next time. It's all part of the fun!
    If you like my stories, you can find them here:
    Stories by Jurixe and Stories by Jurixe 2 

    Interested in joining a Discord about Achaean RP? Want to comment on RP topics or have RP questions? Check the Achaean RP Resource out here:

  • Most players (in my experience) are the same way. You're not going to be laughed at if your event/ritual/prayer/interpretive dance isn't amazing.
    People are by and large very happy when other players are actively working to roleplay and help make the game world more fun for everyone else. The amount of times I thought I absolutely bombed something and gotten praise/some mild advice (The recent Dread Legates Debates being the most recent example) has really helped me go for it again and again.

    tl;dr Go for it, people will most likely enjoy it and you'll always get pointers :)
  • I panic a little before presenting any ritual, and I absolutely dread impromptu rituals. Manni was HL of the Spiritwalkers, a ritual focused house, and lead ritualist for his order. So yeah, I deal with the anxiety regularly. @Aegoth is right. The best way to get past it is to just jump right in.

    I did this in events, following example, forcing myself to lead impromptu rituals. I learned my org rules for rites, and got creative with them.  Nobody will judge your ritual unless you ask for it (I almost always did, I wanted them to be better). The worst that will happen is your character is killed in an event, but that may not be your fault and may just be a part of the ultimate script. I put through patron requests where House members died at least once plenty of times.

    The most important thing:
    Everyone has a different style, there is no "You have to do it this way and only this way". There may be a framework, but that is only to give way to an organizational style and a starting point, not take away from your own style.

    I think with sermons it's important to study your dogma, get comfortable with the mentality, and understand characters have different faiths so if you are playing a zealot you need to be willing to be absolutely savage when needed. Practice with more experienced players, ask them questions on interpretation, understand even within an Order or city the interpretation may be somewhat different, and thats okay. Those difference can make the theological debates more interesting.

    There are characters that have the experience to guide you, and the really good ones will set you up to grow into your own style and approach to these topics. Rituals are very unique in that there really is no wrong way in Achaea. Sermons and Theology talks are great because you can practice your debates, better set your foundation for the said dogma. I think Sermons are a great start for character development. Honestly, IG Manni gets excited during my anxiety, is always upfront about the fear and his efforts to push through it. Some of the best RP, is to take the players emotional state from whats going on and find a way to incorporate it into the character as a way to drive the story further.
  • Nicola said:
    Extra points for also doing the project in game, sitting in a tavern or cafe or quiet garden spot RPing it out as you work on drafts, bandy around ideas, go over each others suggestions and create your final thing. Then present as a group, so you're all in the mire together and you all have one another's backs.

    I think this is some great advice. Writing texts can easily drag us out of the game for substantial amounts of time, so trying to spice it up as an actual IC event is an excellent way to make it feel enjoyable.
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