Great Speakers Use Acting Skills

public speaking using acting skills

*IT’S NOT about you (the gift and fear )

It’s not about you

  The gift

 How do you prepare yourself to tell the world about your gift as an artist, as an entrepreneur?

As an Acting Coach and Public Speaking Coach I deal with artists and presenters of all sorts who want to effectively communicate their gift.

 What is your gift?  Can you put it in a sentence?  Are you passionate about it?  Do you realize that it can change people’s lives?  Do you focus on this gift when you speak? 

 Because  it’s not about you.

  It’s about the gift you are giving. 

 If you have nothing to give to an audience, don’t speak.

 My gift is the ability to inspire and validate artists and speakers, helping them realize that their gift makes a difference and teaching them acting skills and authenticity to deliver it effectively.

 This gift is you’re reason for stepping out in front of an.  Name it and them stand out of your own way and give it with passion.

 Even if you have the gift, you may need to deal with what stands in your way.  What stops you from becoming a passionate, dynamic speaker?



 Fear of what?  There are many I have heard throughout the years.  Here are a few.

 “I’ll make a fool of myself!” 

                         “What if I lose my place?”

        “I really don’t know that much.”

 “I’m boring.”

                                               “What if I freeze up?”

   What is your specific fear?  There are a number of ways of deal with it – involvement, preparation, confrontation, refocusing and validation. 


 Involvement is the enemy of tension. 

  Be involved in what your gift can do to help your audience and the attention will be on that, not yourself.  Make it your mission that they get it, and keep trying to find the right way to give it.

  But how can you be involved if you are watching, judging, directing, and scaring yourself? 

You can’t.

 Put your attention fully, on being present.

 You need to be involved with your audience’s reactions and if  you focus totally on them, you can’t be watching yourself and judging, directing, expecting, and anticipating.


 You need to prepare before you go on stage. And one way is to breathe.

 Deep Breathing.  Have you heard it so much you’re sick of it?  And yet, over and over again it comes up.  Deep inhalation and exhalation – extremely important to relaxation and focus.  Four slow breaths in, hold on eight and out on seven.  Do that three times. 

  Confronting the Fear

 Imagine yourself in front of a large crowd grappling with.  What thoughts are coming up?  Any of the ones mentioned above? 

 Write them down and deal with them one at a time. Be specific.  And then ask yourself “Is this true?”  “Am I boring?”  “Do I not know enough about my subject?”  The answer is NO. 

 You must pay close attention to these “doubters” and stop them when they happen with a big resounding NO. 

 You see most of the time you don’t address them and they just build, getting stronger every time you believe them. You validate them every time you do not address them, letting them affect your self-worth.  So, first say NO.  Then tell the truth.  What is the truth? 

 Ask yourself what works about you. Ask your friends, relatives, co-workers.  You’ll be surprised.  Then write them down.  AND KEEP A COMPLIMENT FILE.

 “What if I lose my place?”  I was speaking to the Portland Female Executives at a lovely Hotel in downtown Portland.  I’d sent out questionnaires ahead of time asking what they were most afraid of.  Many said they were afraid of forgetting their place in their speech.  So halfway through my presentation, I stopped, and said “Well, I’ve forgotten what’s next.”  I then walked over to the podium about 5 feet away, rifled through my notes, and finally came up with the next thing to say.  At this point I looked closely at everyone and said “Do you think less of me because I forgot my place?” “Do you think my information is less valuable then it was before I forgot my place?”  Everyone shook their head saying “oh no, no.”  “Then why do you think you will be judged if you lose your place in a speech?” I said. 

 You can actually have your notes in front of you or in your hand but I strongly encourage your not to read from your notes.  More on that later.

  “I really don’t know that much.”  I have heard this one more often than any other.  What most people don’t realize is that they are an expert in their field.  They’ve spent years learning through experience, classes, books and conversation, their particular gift.  I remember when I first started Public Speaking Coaching.  I told one of my Acting Students, “People already know all this.”  She looked at me amazed.  “You’re crazy,” she said.  “You know this stuff because you’ve lived with it day in and day out for years.  It’s second nature to you.  But the general public would really appreciate what you have to give them.” 

 I  found out she was right with the first workshop I did.  I had such a tremendous response for the gift I’d given, that I never questioned whether I didn’t know my subject. 

  Write it down, right now.  I AM AN EXPERT IN MY FIELD and put it somewhere where you can see it daily.

 “I’m boring.”  I coached a College professor who said that exact same thing.  I asked, “What makes you think that?”  He said “When I was in Grade 6 and gave a speech, three boys told me I was boring.”  “And you have held on to that and let it grow all these years letting it stand in the way, haven’t you?” I said.  “Yes,” he replied.  We worked on making friends with that “doubter” and never it letting pass by with stating NO. 

 He replaced it with “I’m amazing.”  I asked him what sort of experiences he had had lately with his speaking and his book.  He said, “Everyone tells me it’s interesting and stimulating.”  And then he wanted to tell me about a recent experience he had inLos Angeles.  “I was at a famous restaurant frequented by many movie stars.  The owner came out and told me that she was a fan of mine and would I autograph my book.” 

 “What if I freeze up?”  I must admit that was my biggest fear on stage and it actually happened more than once and I just made something up. But I remember the feeling.  I wished the floor would open up and swallow me and I would never be heard from again. 

 I remember apologizing to my director at theAmericanAcademyof Dramatics after the show, “I’m sorry I went up on the lines.”  To which he replied, “You did?  I didn’t notice.”  That’s right people notice a lot less than you think. 

 My suggestion is to memorize something that gets you back into it.  A mantra.   Usually it is the central theme of your speech in one short sentence – “authenticity, acting skills”.  If I say that phrase, a slew of information floods my brain and I’m off.  What’s your mantra?


 And now, what I consider the most important part of getting over fear.

 We hold on to what doesn’t work instead of what does.  What works about you?  What do people say is great about you? 

 Ask them. 

 Write these statements down.  Use them whenever the “doubter” shows up and soon the truth will be stronger than your negative thoughts.  Instead you’ll be focusing on your gift and how it can change people’s lives.


 Every morning wake up, look in the mirror and say “I’m amazing and the gift I have to give is important”.  Isn’t it interesting that we started with “It’s not about you” and ended with “I’m amazing”.  Once you realize you are amazing, you don’t have to try harder or be better and the gift you have to give becomes central to your presentation.  So get out of your way and let the gift through.

 Barbara Kite is a Communications and Acting Coach based inPortlandOregon.



April 29, 2009 Posted by | acting skills, fear of speaking, Public Speaking | 1 Comment

*SPEAKERS with Acting Skills and Authenticity ALWAYS have the edge – INTRO

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”  Martha Graham


I’m excited to finally be able to pass on these basic, and yet extraordinary, acting skills to speakers. I will be discussing specific acting techniques for speakers, approaches to writing speeches and more.

And I welcome comments, and especially suggestions and questions and concerns regarding Public Speaking.

Speaking and Acting are siblings

As a speaker you are walking into a different world from the one you occupy daily. In a short period of time you have to efficiently communicate vocally and physically your authenticity, so that the audience will hear your message and act. Being totally prepared to enter that world requires work. As a matter of fact, you never walk on stage without a warmup involving physical, vocal and mental preparation to enter this other world.

Public Speaking is like Acting (it’s a mini-performance)For both the actor and the speaker, this “performance” requires

• Dealing with your Fears
• Authenticity
• Heightened Reality,
• Great Story Telling Skills,
• Presence
• Passion
• Improvisational Skills
• Vocal work
• Relaxation techniques
• Rehearsal

just for starters.

I will be going into depth with of these in future blogs.

I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you.

NEXT BLOG: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU (your gift and your fear)

Tags: acting, associations, great, oregon, portland, presentation, public, skills, speakers, speaking

April 26, 2009 Posted by | acting skills, fear of speaking, Public Speaking | Leave a comment