Archive for February, 2009

It’s Always “Show Time”

February 15, 2009

What makes a business presentation convincing and powerful is exactly what makes a show business production effective and engaging.

We might not like to admit it, but every time we deliver a presentation to management or explain something to a customer we are giving a performance.  In many respects it’s just like show business.

Every year we are inundated with a collection of “award” shows – Peoples Choice, Golden Globes, and the Academy Awards.  Every one of those programs pays tribute to how well actors portray their characters. Audiences “believe” in the characters, and they respond to the stories.

How does an actor get an audience to respond?  What tools does he have at his disposal?  Surprisingly, there are only a few!  He has words, of course – the script. But that isn’t enough because anyone can read the words. The conviction and the impact come from how well the words are packaged and delivered.

An actor uses his voice – volume, tone, pitch, pace, timbre; and he uses his body – hands, feet, arms, eyes to create the desired impression.

Those are the tools an actor has at his disposal, and they are exactly the same tools everyone in business has!

Although we all have the same tools, the approaches used by an actor and by a business professional often differ. The actor practices and perfects how he uses the tools.  He rehearses, evaluates, and revises; then rehearses again before he goes on stage or in front of the camera.

Businesspeople would be wise to take the same approach. Unfortunately, many don’t give sufficient attention to all of these elements required for successfully communicating ideas. They are “too busy” and believe words alone are sufficient to carry their ideas.  If an actor thought that, he would never be hired to play a part.

As a business professional, whenever you appear in front of an audience think about how you look, how you sound, and what are you doing when you deliver your words. Rehearse, evaluate, revise, and rehearse again as the actor does. Don’t just “wing it”?

Here are a few suggestions to assure you get the reaction you want.

Look directly at your audience.

Connect with them, not the ceiling or a “spot on the back wall.”

Talk to people – not to things – and that includes your notes.

Don’t get caught up speaking to your notes. You wrote them. You know what’s there.

Stand up straight. Well balanced but not rigid.

Let your hands help you show the size, shape, and impact of what you are describing.

Take your time. Take a breath.  If you talk too fast, you risk misspeaking or mispronouncing words, and your audience might become confused. You risk losing your audience’s attention, or you risk losing the sale.

Every time you appear before an audience, no matter the size, you are creating an impression. Every actor will tell you a successful performance begins with a good script, but then it must be interpreted and delivered compellingly.
Get a good script by preparing a good talk. Then deliver it well by using all the tools at your disposal.

You might not get an Oscar, but you might close a big sale, receive a positive performance review, or get a promotion.
For most of us, those are as good as an Oscar.