Posts Tagged ‘acting techniques for business speaking’

Grab/Keep the Attention of Your Business Audience: Take Stage (Part 1)

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Would you like to grab your business audience’s attention and keep them riveted to your presentations?  Do what actors do:  take stage!  Inhabit the space with a “do or die” purpose and an attitude of complete belonging.

Your physical demeanor speaks volumes about you, and your business audience is sizing you up before you even say a word.  Here are three basic strategies, to make your physical demeanor enhance your presence:

  • Whether you’re seated or standing, begin speaking with both feet planted firmly on the ground.  Imagine that your legs are tree trunks and your feet are roots extending deep into the ground.  This initial grounding helps you claim the space as your own and helps give weight to your subsequent movements.  It helps you project confidence and authority.
  • If you’re standing, stand away from furniture and resist any temptation to lean for support.  If someone offers you a podium, politely decline it, if you can.  Whenever possible, you want to eliminate any physical barriers that could come between you and your audience.  If you must use a podium, stand tall and don’t lean on it!
  • Whenever possible, give any handouts you may have after your presentation has ended, not before or during the presentation.  When you give people material to read during your talk, you are inviting them to focus on a piece of paper and inviting them to ignore you.  Giving your audience material to read also suggests the idea that they could just as effectively have read your content, and that they didn’t need to come hear you live and in person!

When you apply these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to taking stage; you will make your physical demeanor enhance your presence, and you will get buy-in faster.

 

Project Authority by Reducing Your Filler Words

Monday, January 9th, 2017

During business conversations and presentations, would you like to reduce your filler words, to sound more authoritative and get buy-in faster?  You can do it with a technique that actors use when they are preparing to speak extemporaneously.

You already know that filler words (um, uh, so, well, like, you know) rarely add meaning and are usually just a distraction for your listeners.  And that they jeapardize your ability to project confidence and commitment.  Reducing your use of fillers will help you enhance your credibility and your leadership presence.  Borrow this practice technique that actors use:

Set a timer for increasing time periods of time, two or three minutes to start, and record yourself as you speak in extended sentences on a topic of your choice.  Choose a business topic that you know well, something you enjoy speaking about (but not your elevator speech or a sales pitch).

As you speak into the recorder, imagine that each word that comes from your mouth is connected to the next one, which is connected to the next one, and so on:  the way pearls are connected on a string of pearls.  When you feel the urge to use a filler

  • Stop yourself
  • Pause
  • Say the filler silently to yourself

When the timer rings, play back the recording and notice your fillers.  Then repeat the exercise, with new topics of your choice.

As you become comfortable with this exercise, increase the setting on the timer, perhaps starting at five or seven minutes.  Then, continue the practice until you can speak extemporaneously on new topics of your choice for fifteen or twenty minutes straight, without the use of fillers.

I guarantee:  when you practice this on a regular basis, you will find that, over time, you are decreasing the number of fillers that you use.  You will sound more confident and more authoritative.  And you’ll increase your ability to influence!

How to Use Your Voice to Build Trust: Apply This Acting Technique!

Monday, December 5th, 2016

When you speak with clients and prospects, would you like to build trust faster?  You can do this by projecting warmth and a spirit of caring with a technique that actors have been using successfully for decades.  It’s called “Endowment”.

The Endowment technique involves the process of endowing your conversation partners and business audiences with qualities that will help you treat them in a way that builds trust.  Rehearse with the Endowment technique with the notes that you have for any business talk.  This will help you feel and project warmth spontaneously, even with challenging prospects and clients.

Here are three steps for rehearsing with the Endowment Technique:

Step 1:   Think of a person from your life in whose presence you feel cared for, trusted, admired, and respected.   This person might be male, female; any age; alive or not.

Step 2:    Use the power of imagination before you begin rehearsing aloud. Choose a spot on the wall to place your focus, and in your mind’s eye, “see” that person, right there in front of you.  Most importantly, take time to become flooded with positive feelings that you have about this person.

Step 3:  As you speak your content aloud, imagine that the person is right there with you, and speak as if you were talking directly to that individual.

Rehearsing with the Endowment technique will have a very positive effect on the tone of voice that you use.  The more you practice it, the easier it will be for you to project warmth and spirit of caring.  Rehearse with the Endowment technique, and build trust faster.

How to Engage Listeners with the Power of the Surprising Pause

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

As a business speaker, would you like to learn how to use your voice, to keep your listeners riveted to your message?

Like a good actor, you can use your voice and the power of the surprising pause to command attention and add depth to your business message.  You may be interested to know that the great Shakespearian actor, Sir John Gielgud, said that the pauses are the most important moments of a speech!

Pausing at meaningful and unpredictable moments will enhance your speaking power in three ways:

1
It will create variety in your delivery:  A moment of unexpected silence provides the greatest contrast to a stream of words.
2
It will create suspense:  It teases your listeners for just a moment, making them want to hear more.
3.
It will enhance listener understanding:  A surprising pause, filled with meaning, allows your listeners to observe a difference quality in you and highlights the subtle nuances of meaning within your message.

Watch this video to see and hear my demonstration:

Right now, I’m going to speak an excerpt from a play called Other People’s Money by Jerry Sterner.  The dialogue is spoken by a character who is a CEO of a company.  As I speak,  I’m going to pause in spots that are logical and fairly predictable.  Here I go:

“One day, / when the dollar is weaker or the yen stronger, / or when we finally begin to rebuild the roads, the bridges, the infrastructure of our country, / demand will skyrocket.”

Now, a more interesting and more engaging choice would be to pause in spots that are less predictable; like this:

“One day, / when the dollar/is weaker / or the yen / stronger, / or when we finally begin to rebuild the roads, the bridges, the infrastructure of our country, / demand / will skyrocket.”

Isn’t that more interesting?

As you rehearse and deliver any business talk, take some meaningful pauses at less predictable moments.   Use the power of the surprising pause, and make your delivery truly compelling.

Speaking Mistakes: Humility Saves Face

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Have you ever made a mistake during a business meeting or conversation: a big mistake that was obvious to everyone?  You don’t have to lose face in situations like these.  Here is a tip that will help you save face.

At one point or another, in your professional life, you may at one time or another, have dropped the balls. You said the most inappropriate thing or your spoken mistake that everyone noticed was a serious one.  These situations present two choices for you.  You can

1:   Pretend that it didn’t happen:  this is never advisable when you are sure that everyone noticed your mistake!

2:   Accept that you dropped the balls and demonstrate humility.

Humility might be an instant and sincere apology. It might be self-deprecating humor.  It might be that you allow others to see you try with your heart and soul to correctly your mistake and maybe even fail to correct it!  Humility means that we accept our right relationship with nature and allow people to see our human-ness.  Because human beings make mistakes and are sometimes wrong — and most everyone we do business with can identify with that.

Humility is a very importance ingredient in successful business speaking.  It’s not a weakness.  It’s actually strategic.  It’s a quality that makes us approachable, more likeable, and more attractive to do business with.

Building Belief With Acting Objectives: Benefits for You

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

In my last few blogs, I have described the value of applying acting objectives when you prepare to speak for business.  Here are some additional benefits that you will experience when you use this technique.  Pursuing acting objectives

#1:  gives you laser-beam focus and simplifies the process, because it gives you just one thing to think about: what you are doing with your words as you speak

#2:  galvanizes your energy toward your listeners; it’s the quickest and most powerful way to project energy, commitment, passion, and poise.

#3:  provides a completely organic way to make your voice and physical demeanor support your content.  It turns your voice, body language, and content into one seamless, unified message.

When you are speaking in business conversation or making a presentation, this gives you maximum power and delivers to your listeners maximum impact.

Enhance Your Leadership Presence With Acting Improvisation

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Would you like your business listeners to trust you more?  Would your business improve if you could convince prospects that you will be a true business partner for them?  Would you like to generate more new business and keep more the business you already have? 

If you’re answer is YES, you won’t want to miss my exciting program called “Enhance Your Leadership Presence with Acting Improvisation.”  You’ll learn how to enhance your leadership presence by using acting improvisation, storytelling techniques, and the “yes and” mindset to transform your communication skills. You’ll learn how to generate business by deepening interpersonal connections, speaking with authenticity, building trust, and engaging your listeners. And you’ll learn how to address the changing needs of your existing clients by expanding your creativity and spontaneity. 

I describe this work as “serious fun”. You’ll be engaged in playful, interactive activities:  acting improvisation, theater and imagination games, and mind, body, and voice techniques that will help you project a spirit of collaboration and convince your prospects that you can (and will) help them solve their business problems. 

Let me tell you how acting improvisation will enhance your leadership presence: 

#1:  Whenever you speak for business, your listeners have one over-riding concern: they want to know what’s in it for them.  Acting improvisation addresses this concern.  Early in their training, actors learn that the audience is always asking the question, “Why are you telling me this?”  Acting improvisation teaches that you must answer this question, and answer it in a way that is compelling for your listeners.  This is a skill that every business leader needs!  If you’re not answering this question in a way that is compelling for your listeners, you’re losing business. 

#2:  To generate new business and keep the business you already have, you need to engage your listeners.  Acting improvisation teaches what a message is made of, what needs to happen; it teaches you how to discern when the beginning should be over, when your listeners have had enough of the middle, when it’s time to move on to the ending, and how long that should last, etc. Leaders who use this knowledge and the timing that it develops become truly engaging:  become masters of engagement.  And they have a measurable competitive edge! 

You, too, can become a master of engagement. Acting improvisation will teach you how!  Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this innovative program: you’ll take away powerful techniques to transform your leadership presence.  

Discover how play will enhance the way you work. And get ready for some serious fun!  I look forward to working with you.

 

 

 

Build Listener Belief by Creating Acting Objectives

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

You can build your credibility by building listener belief in the way that actors do:  Create and pursue acting objectives.  An acting objective is an action that lies underneath the words you speak; and ACTION that you take toward your listeners as you speak.  It is a specific, active verb; it expresses what you want to do to your listeners; what you want to make them feel or do.

Choose objectives that are personally appealing and  for you to pursue, so that you’ll be motivated and project energy.   There are three ingredients for an effective acting objective. Each objective should have the following qualities.  It should be

  1. a specific, active verb, Directed toward the listener
  2. personal and appropriate to the spoken message and the listener’s situation.
  3. truthful  (not necessarily actual, but  believable) 

Pursuing an objective gives you energy and focus as you speak, because it is a powerful action to take toward your listeners; a powerful action that lies underneath the words.  Listeners pay a lot of attention to the actions underneath the words you speak.

Here are some power verbs that might be useful at acting objectives (think, “I wish to __ my listeners”):  welcome them; stir their pride; impress them; honor them; warn them; make them laugh, etc.

Keep your acting objectives private; they should be your secrets.  The longer you keep a secret, the more power it holds for you.  You want your objective to have power of you; to have power to affect your delivery.  Keeping your acting objectives private will strengthen your motivation to speak and galvanize the commitment and passion in your voice and your gestures.

Actors write their acting objectives in the margin of the script, right next to the dialogue. Identifying power verbs as your acting objectives for each beat of your presentation will help you organize your ideas, internalize your message, and prepare you for the next step:  pursuing your acting objectives, as if you life depended on it!

Building Credibility When You Speak: The Value of “Acting Objectives”

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Savvy professionals apply acting techniques to help enhance their credibility and gravitas when they speak for business.  They know that they need to build belief within the listeners, so they borrow techniques that actors have used for decades.  So can you.

Crafted actors spend years perfecting a craft that is designed to build belief.  This is why advertisers so often rely upon actors and their craft:  they understand that actors’ techniques and performance skills are fundamental to the business of selling any idea, product, or service.

When actors are preparing a role, they make careful choices about what actions to take, to help the audience believe that the make believe situation is real.  For actors, it’s all about actions; for actors, actions speak much louder than words.

To prepare, actors create “acting objectives”.  These are actions that lie underneath the words – actions they plan to take toward their listeners.  This helps actors to be motivated to speak the words that the playwright or screenwriter wrote, and speak them truthfully, authentically, and conversationally.

In rehearsal and performance, actors pursue their acting objectives as if their lives depended on it.   This helps the audience believe that the actor and the character are one and the same:  that the actor IS the character.

This applies to you when you speak for business for two important reasons:

  1. You want your business listeners to believe something: to believe that you have solutions to their problems, for example.  The more rigorously you pursue your actions (your acting objectives), the more completely your audience will believe:  believe that you and your message are one and the same; believe that you are your message.
  2. Whenever you are speaking for business, when you make listeners believe, they are very likely to overlook minor shortcomings or mistakes you might make.

Throughout my acting career, and as a professional speaker, I have occasionally neglected to rehearse with the use of acting objectives.  Invariably, whenever I have neglected to use this technique, I lost the acting job or failed to engage my business listeners.

Your business speaking/presentations will never be perfect; there will always be something to improve upon and something that you might consider to have been slightly “negative” in your “performance”.   Without the use of acting objectives in your preparation, you significantly reduce your ability to make business listeners believe.  When that happens, your listeners have little to focus on BUT the negative.

Once you have helped your business listeners believe, you’ve won them over to your side.  After that, they will forgive you almost anything!

 

Engage Listeners With the Power of the Pause (“Let Your Ideas Land”, Part 3)

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

 

Would you like your business listeners to be drawn IN when you speak?  Would you like them to feel eager to hear what you’re going to say next?

If your answer is YES, you need the power of the pause.  Successful business speakers, like good actors, always consider pacing when they are going to speak.  The tempo of your spoken word has a strong impact on your listeners and directly influences their level of engagement and influences the way you are perceived.  Your pauses are key.

Even the smartest and best listeners need a moment to process a spoken idea.  When you listeners can see you, they need time to interpret meaning from a broad palette:  your visual delivery, as well as vocal delivery.  Your pauses can give them the time they need.

A University of Michigan study revealed that when speakers never paused, they had the lowest success rate in getting listeners to do what they wanted them to do.  And the great British actor, Sir John Gielgud, famously said that, when acting Shakespeare, the pauses are the most important moments of the speech!  He knew that pauses can be captivating.

Help your business listeners receive the full impact of your message by giving them the gift of time.  Pause briefly after each complete thought, to let it “land”.  Don’t be in a rush to go on to your next idea.  Another benefit of the pause is that it gives you time to get a reading on your listener’s understanding and engagement level.  During the pause, breathe deeply and maintain eye contact.

During the pause, your listeners will usually be wondering why you’ve paused and wondering what you’re going to say next.  So, your pauses increase listener curiosity and engagement level, and they make you more compelling.

Without the pauses, your listeners may feel overwhelmed by an unmanageable amount of input.  They may lose some of your meaning; they may even tune you out.

When you give your listeners time to process each thought, you are respecting their needs, communicating that your message has value, and drawing them IN.

Never underestimate the power of the pause!