Whenever you speak/present in business, it’s very important to keep your focus on your listeners: on what you ultimately want them to feel or do. Nervousness (which is a focus on self) and a preoccupation with word choice or how you are coming across can jeopardize your power to influence.
Listeners care about one thing: “What’s in this for me?” This is why speakers must always project a “you focus” and why rehearsing in front of a mirror is so dangerous: it trains you to focus on yourself and on how you look (which is often detected by the audience and can project either arrogance or anxiety).
In my blogs, I have presented a theater technique that helps business speakers focus the mind on listeners; the technique is the pursuit of what actors call “acting objectives”. “Acting objectives” are separate from the types of objectives that should be obvious from your content and which you might even articulate to your listeners. Instead, “acting objectives” have one purpose: they are designed to propel your energy toward your listeners and project a “you focus”.
Once you have chosen powerful acting objectives for each “beat” (see my previous blog about “beats”), keep your acting objectives private: they should be your secrets. Have you ever noticed that your secrets hold great power for you? For speakers, this is helpful; we want our acting objectives to hold power over our demeanor; we want them to give us an audience-focused delivery style.
Rehearse the way actors do: rehearse aloud, rehearse often, and rehearse at top energy. As you speak the words of each beat, focus on the underlying acting objective. Your energy and commitment in this pursuit are key. As you speak the words of each beat
- Focus on the acting objective (what you want the listeners to do or feel), rather than on the exact words you are speaking
- Keep the acting objective at the forefront of your mind
- Pursue the acting objective with complete commitment: as if your life depended on it
Finally, always be sure that your demeanor communicates, “My message is important for you, so I love being here with you.”
Pursue “acting objectives” to focus your mind where it belongs: on your business listeners — to engage them fully and increase your power to influence.