Scene Work Makes the Dream Work

By Jennifer Kuenzer, TrizCom PR

The author in her natural habitat, wearing other people's hair on her head. (A Little Night Music, 2017. Photo by Linda Harrison for Theatre Three, Dallas TX.)

The author in her natural habitat, wearing other people's hair on her head. (A Little Night Music, 2017. Photo by Linda Harrison for Theatre Three, Dallas TX.)

Outside of my work here at TrizCom, I’m an actor. I’ve blogged before about the usefulness of certain theatrical techniques (specifically, clowning) for focus and balance, and Jo – who has a lengthy performing arts background herself – wrote a spectacular blog about the importance of being a good storyteller in the public relations industry. But how do you tap into – and build – your own natural storytelling abilities? Especially when your message needs to be clean, crisp and streamlined but not “sales-y” or, worse, “too rehearsed?”

Acting techniques, my friend. Tried and true acting techniques can help you achieve your most honest – but polished – “you,” and that is what will make your presentation (and you) shine.

Rehearsing like a boss.

Rehearsing like a boss.

1: Rehearse!

The best way to sound unrehearsed is … to rehearse. No, I’m not kidding. You need to know your material – the rhythm, the beats, where to pause, what to emphasize, and you need to make it sound like you, not a stiff robot you or a fire and brimstone you or a game show host you. You. Get with your team and map out a working script. Find that sweet spot between improvisation and memorization, because you need to know it well enough to go “off script” and still get your message across. Then present it to your team. Again. And again. Repeat until you are acting natural, naturally.

2: Stretch! Vocalize!

So you know the material and you have a solid grasp on your talk. You’ve rehearsed and now it’s go time. How do you pull it all together before taking the floor? You warm up, vocally and physically. Talking in a presentational setting is more than just having a conversation. Think of your voice as an instrument, and make sure it is properly tuned. Keep nerves at bay by keeping your blood flowing and your muscles loose and relaxed.

Save this, it's actually beneficial. (via giphy)

Save this, it's actually beneficial. (via giphy)

3: Breathe!

To use your voice to the best of your abilities, breathing is key. How, when and where you breathe can make or break your presentation. What people hear and how they hear your message can be affected by your breathing. Breathe from your diaphragm – your chest should barely move at all, and your shoulders should never rise up. In your rehearsal, make breathing part of what you rehearse. Pre-presentation, breathing exercises help center and calm any public speaking-related jitters.

 

BONUS: Take a class!

"Yes, and..." the cornerstone of improv. (via giphy)

"Yes, and..." the cornerstone of improv. (via giphy)

Improv is a terrific way for anyone to improve their stage presence and learn to think on their feet, and there are also traditional acting classes geared toward business professionals. In both classes, you learn techniques like the ones listed here more in-depth, and through improv games and scene work, the importance of being honest, present and in the moment.

Or maybe you want to focus on vocal strength? Try a vocal coach. You’ll learn how to use your voice to its full potential, maximizing tone and projection as well as learning how to keep it healthy and injury-free.

Whether voice lessons, basic acting techniques or heading out to your local comedy club to take an improv class, building up your stage presence and public speaking skills will be one of the best investments you make in yourself – a skill set that you can use yourself and also teach to less media-savvy clients. Being known as an effective public speaker will yield tremendous benefits in any industry.