3 Acting techniques to upgrade your next presentation


“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than delivering the eulogy.” - Jerry Seinfeld

We have all been there. In fact, it is estimated that 75% of people would like to improve their performance on stage. But how? In my career I have been taught the following acting techniques and used them before taking the stage. And I have found during my client sessions that they are just as applicable to any speaking performance that we do in real life. Whether it is a presentation for a business proposal, a wedding speech or a goodbye speech for one of your well respected colleagues.

 1. know what you want to say

As an actor you need to know your script. And knowing the script means that you need to know what you want to say, how you want to say it, and how you would like your audience to feel, and what action you would like them to take after they have heard you speak. Do the need to feel happy, sad, energized, inspired? And what do they need to do after you finish your presentation? Buy your service? Support your foundation? You need to think about this before you go on stage. But what if you just do not have the time to prepare for hours? If you do not have the time you have 2 options. The first option is to politely decline the speaking opportunity, or the second (mostly preferred) option is to quickly go through the process in your head and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the one sentence I would like them to remember? 
  • What action would you like them to take after the performance?
  • How do they need to feel and what do they need to know?

2. Relax

This is what happens when you are put in front of a room full of audience or a camera. Your muscles tighten up, you feel your legs are cramping or your throat is choking. All these are signs that you are not relaxed.  Every new actor has struggle to stay relaxed.

“There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.” - Mark Twain

The Stanislavski acting techniques are designed to help an actor stay relaxed. Stanislavski believed that in order to stay relaxed actor must direct their attention completely on the task in the given scene. Because it is impossible to completely remove the muscular tension. If you try to relax your legs, tension moves to your shoulders, and you shake it off your shoulders, it might go to your back. There will always be a struggle. But it is actors job to keep it under control and not allow it show it in his or her performance. It’s about transforming the tension and fear into energy and excitement. You can greatly decrease your anxiety with some relaxation techniques or some simple respiration exercises.

 3. Bring yourself

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” - John Ford

Authenticity is key. As an actor and presenter you have to bring your self, your whole authentic self to the performance. Your authentic self includes the way you move your body, the way you speak, the way you interact with the audience. When I would plead a role of a person that was totally different from myself, I learned how to crawl under the skin of that new person. As a presenter that is not your role of course. But what you do need to do is think about the message you are bringing across and how your try authentic self would bring that message to friends, family and other people that you would feel totally comfortable with. Would you use that ‘story telling’ voice if you were trying to convince your friends? Of course not, it probably does not sound genuine at all! How would your body move when you would tell the story in a comfortable environment? How high or low would your voice be? How fast would you be speaking?  

And finally, take in the applause and confidentially walk off the stage. Be proud of yourself for being the real authentic you.

Enjoy the next performance and remember to smile :)