Great Speakers Use Acting Skills

public speaking using acting skills

*SENSE MEMORY (making stories vivid and memorable)

An important acting tool and an essential story telling tool is SENSE MEMORY.

Do you realize that every feeling we have  comes from our sensorial interaction with the world around us? 

What if you have a wonderful story to tell (and I’ll get to story writing in another blog)?  One that supports (and it must) your message  –  something people will walk away remembering for a long time.  Because, as you know,  you remember images and feelings more than facts and power points.  How do you make sure your audience remembers your story?

You have to make sure they see it, smell it, taste it, touch it, hear it.  That means you have to before you speak. 

I tell my clients –  actors and public speakers, “If you see it they will too”.  It’s a given. 

If you see, smell, taste, touch and hear the elements of  your story, you will react to them honestly and your audience will go along for the ride.

So here’s the sense memory exercise.  If you can, get together with a few people and have one person read it out loud as you go along.

 Simply stated, “sense memory” is the remembering by the five senses of the sensory impressions experienced by the individual organism in everyday life. 

  THE EXERCISE:  Begin with a coffee cup as your first exercise. 

IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THIS CUP BE SIMPLE – THE STYROFOAM OR CARDBOARD WHITE CUPS ARE PERFECT.  TOO MUCH PATTERN OR COLOR WILL BE TOO DIFFICULT TO FOCUS ON IN DETAIL AND DETAIL IS VERY IMPORTANT.

Find a simple coffee cup at home, fill it with coffee or your favorite morning drink, and explore every sensory aspect of the cup in minute detail. Let your mind ask the questions, and your senses provide the answers.

BE SURE TO PUT THE CUP ON A SIMPLE BACKGROUND.  YOU MIGHT PUT DOWN A ONE COLORED TABLE CLOTH UNDER IT SO YOU’RE NOT DESTRACTED BY A PATTERN OR TOO MANY COLORS.

 1) First, get in a chair and do some relaxation exercise. Stretching, tensing, relaxing, etc.

 2) When you are relaxed explore the cup with the sense of sight:  DON’T TOUCH THE CUP – how tall is the cup? what is the diameter of the cup?   what color is the cup?  of what material is the cup made?  are reflections from  the lights in the room visible on the cup (where, what color?)?  when do I first see the coffee inside the cup as I approach the cup to look in?  are there flaws in the cup (what kind, what size?)?

 3) AFTER ABOUT 20 SUCH OBSERVATIONS, PUT THE CUP ASIDE (WHERE YOU CAN’T SEE IT) AND SEE IF YOU CAN RECREATE IT BY ASKING THE SAME QUESTIONS.  BRING IT BACK TO SEE WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED AND CONTINUE ON TO THE OTHER SENSES.

4) Repeat this process for each of touching, smelling, tasting, and hearing so that you should be able to ask the same questions and get the same answers when you no longer have the cup to refer to. 

Notice what muscles you use to move your hand towards the cup.

NOTICE HOW EACH SENSE SUPPORTS THE PREVIOUS ONE. While you are moving towards tasting the drink, sight, smell and touch may come into play and you cannot ignore them.

In other words, as you pick up the cup to your mouth, realize that touch and sight are involved and record them.

 That’s the “art” of acting.

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May 19, 2009 - Posted by | acting skills, fear of speaking, presentations, Public Speaking

3 Comments »

  1. Interesting approach and it is bound to have an impact on memory. My slogan for the year is “It’s the Little Things” — your article is a great reminder to slow down and really look and feel things. Yesterday, went for a walk and there was different kind of hedge. I stopped and touched it and looked at the shape of the leaves etc….special moment.

    I remember right where it is, what I liked about it..thought about the people that decided to plant something so different.

    Great reminder…thanks.

    Kathy Condon, Professional Keynote Speaker and Award-winning Author of the book: It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: It’s all about Communication.

    Comment by Kathy Condon | January 6, 2010 | Reply

  2. Great piece to remind all of us…no matter how much
    experience we might have in the speaking arena…our
    most important job is reaching our audience.
    You are so right…bringing “whomever” in to our
    experience thru the senses…makes perfect sense!
    I will now make sure to remember to add this piece
    of the puzzle for brilliant communication to all of
    my connections with others I really want to reach.
    Thanks! Joy Weston

    Comment by Joy | January 6, 2010 | Reply


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