Cornelius Obonya reveals what acting and successful presentations have in common


As an actor Cornelius Obonya is constantly in front of an audience. After so many years in the business, do you still have stage fright and what is the best way to deal with faux pas at performances? In part two of our interview he tells us his best tips for successful performances.

What is the best way to deal with a faux pas at performances ?

Suppose I go to a podium to give a lecture and stumble over the step while walking up. Then there are three ways to deal with the situation: 

  • I can act in lightning ropes as if nothing had happened. I don't think that's so good.
  • I can see it as a disaster and then completely cramp up. The audience will perceive that, too.
  • Or I can cover it up with a little humorous anecdote.

Humor always has the potential to loosen up the audience and build a connection to the listeners. In principle, however, faux pas can also be avoided by good preparation. Before a lecture, for example, the microphone should always be tested.

What does rhetorically matter in a lecture ?

Speaking in front of an audience and knowing when a break is appropriate or how to lead a sentence is something you can learn. The emotions you put into your voice are also important. A newsreader, for example, has the task of passing on information. He therefore speaks in a neutral tone. But if you want to convince someone of something, it doesn't make sense. Here again, what counts in principle is that you have to want it yourself and be convinced of what you are saying. Exactly this will resonate in the voice and exactly this will be felt by the audience.

And which tips from the art of acting do you have ready for the topic of body language?

In acting schools, a monologue from Shakespeare's "Hamlet" is often quoted on the subject of body language. Here Hamlet unasked teaches actors by describing exactly what an actor should do and what he should not do. This includes: not too much gesticulation, rather use a gesture than hundreds of thousands, not waving around, take a secure stand and and and.
Another important point is eye contact. When actors are not quite sure about a text, they often lower their gaze. Instead, during a presentation, the gaze should be directed forward to the audience. If you are not sure where to look, there is a trick to pick three people in the audience and look at them directly. Then you have different directions of gaze, but don't let yourself be confused.

Do you still have stage fright at all? And what are your tips to avoid it?

Yes, even after years in the job I still have stage fright. And if I don't have it, then I know deep inside that I didn't prepare well enough or that the topic doesn't really interest me. That's why I actually find it more exciting to have stage fright than not to have it. And stage fright has another positive effect: It helps to be concentrated and focused in the moment.
What basically always helps with stage fright is a very precise preparation. Another tip is to imagine a character, similar to acting, and to imagine that you have a role the moment you step in front of the audience. However, how someone deals best with stage fright is and remains very individual. Everyone has to find his or her own key to best deal with nervousness.

How do you manage to stay with yourself or in your role for an appearance?

That is probably the greatest secret of the art of acting. The director Max Reinhardt once wrote: "You have to put your childhood in your pocket and take it with you." Because a child who takes on a character in a play remains in that character, it remains superhero, princess or villain. To take and keep exactly this naivety with you can be the key.

We thank Cornelius Obonya for the interview!

You missed the first part of the interview?

Don't worry, you can read it here and find out what the key to successful presentations is...

A good preparation is half the battle

You know the queasy feeling in your stomach when you go on stage or in front of an audience only too well? Cornelius Obonya reveals the best trick against the annoying stage fright: A good preparation! In our individual presentation coaching we will tell you how to stage your content skilfully - and thus start your presentation optimally prepared. Now click on the image below and secure your individual presentation coaching!

image: ©Adobe/andrys lukowski