Act “as if” When You Speak For Business

So much business speaking today is ineffective because speakers unnecessarily fear being perceived as “phony”.

When business speaking is lifeless and boring, it is often because the speaker mistakenly believes that using a higher energy level is dependent upon his/her experiencing a certain emotion.  When these speakers don’t feel that emotion, they settle for a humdrum demeanor, play it safe, and avoid the kind of energy for speaking that truly engages the listener.

Business speakers should adopt the attitude that actors take: a specific feeling does not have to be present in order for you to behave a certain way.  Acting “as if” you feel or think a certain way is the surest way to project the qualities you choose (poise and passion, for example) and increase your persuasive power.   Stanislavski (the great Russian director and teacher) called this the “magic if”.

Shakespeare was advising the same thing when he wrote, “Assume a virtue if you have it not.”

Speakers shouldn’t wait for a feeling of happiness before smiling, for example.  With the act of smiling, they are acting as if they are happy.  (And behavior can certainly induce a feeling).  Actions and feelings go together; feelings are not subject to direct command, behavior is subject to direct command.  Therefore, behaving a certain way, whether one “feels” that way or not, is paramount.  Behavior is king, particularly when the business audience is watching.

Finally, a second quote from Stanislavsky has relevance for your business speaking:  “Show me what a person DOES, and I’ll show you who he/she IS”.

Who does your business audience perceive YOU to be?  Your speaking behavior holds the key.

 

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