Taking Your Stage Blog  
  Helping you improve the communication skills of the leaders and teams in your organization.  
     
 

2 items categorized "Acting Techniques"

03/24/2014

5 Tools to Get Out of a Communication Rut

IStock_000001355840_web2So often our communication in business gets in a rut - we do things the same way day after day.  I recently read a story about an actor who was having a difficult time "getting into the flow" while practicing his scenes for an upcoming rehearsal.  He felt disjointed, uncomfortable, and uninspired.  He was in a rut.  The next day some people were gathered in an adjacent room so he had to change his practice routine so that he would not disturb them.  He went to the opposite side of the room and spoke in a quiet voice.  He found that his mood and demeanor were transformed.

While we are not practicing to perform in an actual play each of us performs on our own "stage" every day, whether it is a team meeting, a one-on-one conversation, a phone call, or a presentation.  How we present and conduct ourselves goes a long way towards our ability to shape and be successfully in the "scene."

Too often we get stuck in a rut where we do things the same way every time.  We lead meetings the same way, we prepare the same way for presentations, we approach someone the same way for a one-on-one discussion.

Instead, if we are serious about becoming a great communicator that is highly proficient at what we do, we need to mix things up and continue to try new things.

Try these 5 simple tools to simply do something different:

1. Stand

If you always sit down to lead a meeting, try standing.  Standing changes your energy level and commands more respect.  In fact, studies have shown that people are more persuaded by people who are standing as opposed to sitting.

2.  Add Emotion

On a phone call or a one-on-one, change the inflection of your voice to add some emotion to it.  Just once.  How does that change the conversation and even your energy level?

3. Use Silence

In your next briefing or presentation, strategically insert silence.  Make a statement to your audience and let it hang out there for a few seconds before speaking again.  Silence is one of those simple but powerful tools to keep your message from getting in a rut.

4. Do Something Unexpected

If you always start the meeting the same way, do something different.  Try an icebreaker.  Tell a (tasteful) joke.  Have your "audience" do something unexpected, such as find one thing they don't know about another person.

5. Tell a Story

One of the single most powerful tools you can use to spice up your communication effectiveness is to inject a story.  Tell a story to start off a meeting, presentation, or even a one-on-one.  Keep it short and concise and tie it into the objective for your conversation.

I find often that our level of confidence in our job is tied to our level of confidence in communicating to others.  Try something new each day and watch how the effectiveness of your "performance" increases.


 
 


 

02/27/2014

4 Actor Techniques to Be More Persuasive in Your Delivery

IStock_000015522057_webLearning the communication skills of persuasion and influence helps you become a better leader and more proficient at your job (read: more valuable).  It is one of those skills that makes a big difference when used as a tool (and not a "weapon").

While most of us want to become more persuasive, most of us have work to do on our delivery.  In fact, how we deliver our messages is what is restricting our effectiveness.  Whether you are influencing a peer, a team, or an entire organization, these four actor techniques will help when the "curtain goes up" and all eyes are on you:

1.  Persuade with your eyes

Most of the time we focus on our words when attempting to be persuasive.  It was once said that our eyes are the window to our soul.  Focus your attention to your eyes.  Think about the most dramatic movie scenes you have seen.  Watch them again and pay attention how the actor(s) convey the true drama with their eyes.  When you are giving a persuasive message, focus on your eyes by making solid eye contact, and intentionally conveying emotion and passion.  You may try "rehearsing" in front of a mirror by reciting your "message" internally while focusing on generating emotion coming from your eyes.

2.  Invent your Enthusiasm

Let's face it - sometimes we really, really need to be persuasive, but we just can't get enthusiastic from the context, content, or purpose.  That lack of enthusiasm and energy shows.  So...invent your own enthusiasm, by creating an "as if" scenario.  If your passion is to teach people, act "as if" you are teaching people and let your enthusiasm come out.  If your passion is software coding, act "as if" you are creating or discussing a great piece of software code.  Find an "as if" scenario that you can connect with that creates enthusiasm for you.  It works.

3.  Smile like a Capuchan Monkey

I don't know if capuchan monkeys actually smile, but it invokes an image for me to smile like I never would otherwise.  Like our eyes, smiling has an incredible effect.  Your recipient will respond both physically and emotionally.  Even on the phone, the person at the other end will be able to "hear" the smile in your voice.  You may feel sillier than a capuchan monkey but it won't come across that way.

4.  Make it about your Audience

An actor wants to connect with and move their audience.  The focus is on the audience, and when we are trying to be persuasive, it is no different.  What's in it for them?  Do you care more about being persuasive or about what's best for the other person?  Is your motivation to look good and get what you want?  Or to make them look good and help them get what they want?  Do you want to win?  Or build a long-term working relationship?  People can feel your authenticity and sincerity, and whether you are more concerned about them or yourself.  Make it about them.  Change your thought process by asking "what's in it for them?" or "what if I were in their shoes?"

While you may not literally be performing on a stage, each of us are performing on your own "stage" every day.  Focus on one of these techniques and watch for the subtle differences they have in your audience.