Ben EltonPicture the scene; You are stood at the lectern, speaking clearly and concisely, confident in your material when suddenly you catch somebody frowning at you from the audience. Then you see another person with their arms crossed. Then another whispering to their neighbour. Then another leaving the room.

Suddenly you ask yourself what is going wrong? A whiny little voice creeping forwards from the back of your mind saying things like “You’re losing them…”, and “Stop sending them to sleep”, and “Get off the stage now before they start throwing rotten fruit at you…”.

As Ben Elton used to say this is Captain Paranoia sitting on your shoulder, that inner voice which we all struggle to silence.

The fact is a small fraction of the audience will not be satisfied whatever you do.

So what can you do about Captain Paranoia? Firstly you have got to stop living in your head, the more you listen to your inner voice the more nervous and less confident you’ll feel.

Don’t think about it, change it! The first sign you see of your inner voice creeping forwards, start to raise your game. Give your performance an energy injection, both in the tone of your voice and in your body. Liven things up a little.

The more your attention is occupied by your performance the less you’ll notice the stiffs in the audience disappearing to the toilet.

The bigger your performance the better you’ll feel when you walk off stage with your head held high.