We often hear that those who perform in theater are better at speaking. But do you have to be an actor to present well? Today we take stock of the good practices to borrow from the theater.
When you speak in public, you don’t behave like you do daily, like at home with family or at a café with friends. Our posture is more upright, our voice is stronger, and our personality is a little different. So, is a speaker like an actor?
This question is important, because to advance and develop your public persona, two completely opposite options are available to you:
- Copy the speakers you like. This is like accepting that you don’t have to be yourself when you speak. This is the famous “fake it until you make it”: Take the position to imitate others until you become what you play, until you feel comfortable in the exercise.
- Liberate and reveal your true nature. This consists of looking for ways to always be more natural and trying to assert your personality more and more. But there is an obstacle: how can you be yourself when you have stage fright and this stage fright prevents you from being yourself?
Those of you who are getting to know us, know that we have a penchant for the second option. What you read every week in the Thursday ZETIPS, what you experience during our workshops, or during our training sessions, always goes in the same direction: always be more sincere and more committed. Make no mistake, a speaker is not an actor, a presentation is not a show and the people listening to you are not spectators.
- You are not intended to be actors when you speak
Actors are professionals, trained to give life to a fictional character, to feel emotions that are not their own and to make you believe in a reality that does not exist. It’s not at all what you need. It seems completely disproportionate to play what you want to be, rather than fully being that person. Especially since your projects really do exist. And the emotions you feel about them are real too.
On the other hand, what is important to borrow from actors is their preparation. You learn to control your stress and your breathing, and to place your voice. Like a play, a presentation is built and rehearsed.
- A presentation will never be a show
We often talk about Pitch and Storytelling, but these techniques are not an end. It’s a way to find an effective structure to sincerely express an idea that inspires you and that you want to defend. The strength of a presentation is based on the speaker’s ability to relate and have a conversation, even with several hundred people. The opposite of a play or the “4th wall,” separates the actors from the audience.
That said, a presentation needs staging. This is known as a Story design, the time when we talk about how speakers coordinate their speaking time with each other and to interact with the visual aids. All of this needs to be defined in advance and rehearsed.
- Your audience is not a sum of spectators
You’re not there to distract your audience while waiting for them to change the meeting room… much like changing the TV channel. You are there to present a project in which they have a role to play. You are there to involve them, to make them react and to commit. We have often dealt with the techniques to manage a restless hostile audience that is asking questions ; this is never obvious, but better to have a restless audience than a dormant one.
On the other hand, like a theater audience, they want to be on board, to believe in what you’re saying and to feel emotions. It is your responsibility to maintain their attention and guide them on the path of your idea.