Arts & Entertainment

Performative Storytelling

LeVar Burton

Lesson time 13:33 min

Public speaking can create anxiety, even for the most seasoned professional. LeVar breaks down the warm-up techniques and grounding exercises that help him prepare for a performance.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Transform Your Fear · Warming Up Your Body · The Delivery System for Story · Think of Storytelling as Music · Remember the Pause


[MUSIC PLAYING] - The thing to remember about speaking in public is that, for most of us, it really is a nerve-racking experience. There is a phrase that I love using-- fear is simply suppressed excitement. We all have nervousness. I'm nervous every time I speak in public. I'm going to say that again. I've been doing this for 45 years. Every time I open my mouth in public, I'm nervous. But here's the thing-- I have developed the ability to not allow my nervousness my fear to paralyze me into non-action. Okay? So I actually use the fear as information. I know, if I'm nervous, that I'm engaged. What I'm about to do is important to me. I think the day that I stop being nervous before I speak, I will recognize that there's something wrong. I'm disconnected in some way. So it's all just energy. The energy of fear can be transformed by recognition into the energy of suppressed excitement, and suppressed excitement is a lot easier to deal with intellectually than our fear. So the framing of how you are being impacted by your energy is really key-- how you allow the mind to interpret it. It's good to remember, when performing or public speaking, that-- should you ever feel like you are in a place where you are overwhelmed by your fear, overwhelmed by your nervousness? Go back to the breath, really. Just go back to the breath. Conscious breathing is the quickest way I know of to bring center back to yourself. To bring yourself back to center, just simply take a couple of deep breaths. Oxygenate your lungs. And if it helps to make a sound, that also releases tension. [VOCALIZED EXHALE] It is hard to be tense when you are making a sound like that. Children make sounds like this all the time. They are free in their expression. Pretend you're a child for a second. Forget about the judgment. Forget about the tendency to self-judge. Just let it out. It's all okay. So allow it to just be okay, and move through it. Move through it. Just move through it. [MUSIC PLAYING] So performance for most of us is very anxiety-producing, and the tendency when we're in anxiety is to tense up. So it's really important to make sure that you can be as relaxed as possible in your body. I like to start with a couple of deep breaths. So we'll inhale, and exhale. Inhale, and exhale-- through your nose-- in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Inhale, and exhale-- great. So now we're just going to loosen up the face, and the neck, and the jaw area. So just gently stretch to one side ear towards your shoulder-- not forcing anything, just letting it fall back to center to the other side, very gently, here to your shoulder, and back to center. Let's move the head forward. And dropping the forehead, back to center, and back-- again, not forcing-- just allowing gravity to do its thing. And back-- excellent. Now, let's massage the throat a little, and the jaw. A lot of us hold tension in our jaws, so let's really give it...

About the Instructor

With his iconic roles in Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation and 23 years as the host of Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton has left an indelible mark on our culture. Now the Emmy, Grammy, and Peabody winner is sharing his approach to storytelling so you can connect authentically with any audience. Learn how to find intention, use your voice, and mine your experiences to be a more effective and dynamic storyteller.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

LeVar Burton

Emmy winner and Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton teaches you his techniques for more dynamic, authentic storytelling.

Explore the Class
Sign Up