Friday, 11 April 2008



No reading required, no writing needed, no speaking necessary; in fact, you just have to be still and quiet for this one.

Come, come, you say, surely you’d need a mountain of knowledge and months of practice to possess a molehill of confidence, to be able to stand before a blaze of staring eyes and deliver your thoughts without fear of being blender-ed at the end.

Well, in a sense, yes. It helps to have as many facts as you can gather on the subject. And, sure, you get steadier with every repetition…of the same act (familiarity breeds…nothing new.) You can’t shirk your homework, I agree—organizing your thoughts on paper, getting your show material neatly labeled and arranged, equipment in working order, enough sleep, clothes, etc.

But I wonder how many of us have experienced doing all that and still getting that familiar sinking feeling when the day draws near. I know I have.

And it’s not just nervousness. Some nervous energy when you’re about to go on stage is a good thing (speaking from experience). It keeps you focused and ready.

That feeling is about confidence, or more accurately its absence…just when we need it most.

So, why does it happen? And how do we get it?

It’s a mind thing.

Psychologists tell us that imagining the worse that could happen can dispel the Goliath of fear. Ask yourself, so they tell us, “What’s the worse that could possibly happen?”

And answer the question comprehensively: “Well, I could get tongue tied, no words will come out; I will blush or turn white; the audience will start laughing; the jury will give me zero; I will faint and fall over; my friends will call me lame; I will fail and go back to Seminyih to rear chickens; etc.

Then ask yourself, “So what?”

And answer yourself, “Who cares? There’s more to life than architecture! My girlfriend/boyfriend will still love me; my family (although poorer) will still welcome me home; I will still have 2 hands and 2 legs; the sun will still shine; the birds will still…
(Remember I said you had to be still for this one?)

You will get to a point when you slap yourself and say, “Don’t be b***** stupid!” Why? “Because it won’t get to that!”

And you will be right. It won’t get that ridiculous!

Quite simply, one of the jury will probably ask you a simple question to help you on. Jury and audience aren’t there to mince you: they usually want to know about your interesting scheme and cheer you on.

Towards the end of 2006 I was the sole juror for a Studio 4 boy at his finals. With great enthusiasm I opened with, “Well now, Young Man, tell me what’s so exciting about your scheme!” (Ya, with my usual booming voice.)

That short and thin student (yes, VS product, quite obviously) stared at me with rounded eyes and opened mouth. After a while I thought that, perhaps, he hadn’t understood the question. So I fired away, “Take us through your building and show us all the fascinating things!”

But he had already turned to stone.

I looked at Puan Nor, his tutor. She looked like a Muslim Madonna—smiling serenely. So I turned back to the statue and picked up his model. Slowly and calmly I said, “This is one of the best schemes I’ve seen in many years.” The statue didn’t move. “Here, on this elevation we see one of the finest Late Modern interpretations of the brise soleil. And the language of fins and planes are modulated and carried sensitively over the roof to the other side. And yet there’s no repetition…just an artful expression in myriad variation…”

Puan Nor said to him, “See, see! I told you it was good….” The poor boy didn’t blink.

So for 5 minutes, as he stared into my eyes, I did his presentation for him. I didn’t ask him any more questions. He said not a single word throughout his presentation. I think I gave him a B+ (can’t quite remember). He’s in Melbourne or somewhere now.

Loss of confidence? No. Absolutely NO confidence.

I guess he didn’t know about what psychologists tell us, to start with.

And just in case some of you are planning to try this Silent Style of presentation….I have only one thing to say to you—“You’d better watch out!”

Well, taking you mind through the worst imaginable is the Defense Tactic of gaining confidence. This must be accompanied by the Attack Strategy. That will be the next part. It’s time for breakfast with my son now.

cont:- 2/2

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