Great Speakers Use Acting Skills

public speaking using acting skills

*THE INTRO to your speech

Be smart and write your introduction because your speech/presentation starts when the person introducing you reads what you have written.  So do you  list your accomplishments and abilities and wonderfullness?   Why not?  everyone does!

My one hue and cry will continue.  IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. 

What can your audience expect to receive from you?  What is the gift you are giving  that will make a difference to them – in their lives,  in their work?   Focus on that in your introduction and make sure the person who is doing your intro gets your written speech ahead of  time.

I did this recently.  I handed my introduction to a women who was going to introduce me and she read exactly what I wrote, in monotone, without pausing,  hurriedly and it made no sense.  I was distraught.  What to do next?  Teach people how to speak is what I do.  But I couldn’t prevent her from butchering a simple introduction.  Her head was somewhere else.  She didn’t care.  She made a bad impression.  And she didn’t help me either.

I’ve decided to put in pauses (directions) and then ask them to read it over before we go on to make sure they understand my introduction.  Presumptuous?  Maybe. But how else do I take care of my audience?  How do I make sure they get the most from me in exchange for their valuable time?

Another time a friend of mine was to introduce a speaker.  My friend herself is an amazing speaker but she decided to really help this person and sing the introduction.  The speaker was steaming afterwards and said  that she wanted to be introduced the way it was written without any creative additions.

How good are you at introducing people.  Most I find are greatly lacking in this skill.  They end up looking sloppy, disinterested, unprofessional.  Don’t make that mistake when you introduce a speaker.

And when you write an introduction for  yourself  – what does it say about your desire to be of service to the audience? 

Here is the introduction I wrote for  the Public Relations Society of America Conference regarding Acting Skills and Public Speaking

I’M ASSUMING YOU’RE HERE TODAY BECAUSE THE SUBJECT MATTER “GREAT SPEAKERS AND ACTING SKILLS” INTRIGUES YOU. YOU MAY EVEN BELIEVE YOU WILL FIND NEW WAYS TO BECOME BETTER THAN YOU ARE.  YOU’RE RIGHT.

TODAY YOU WILL LEARN ABOUT NEW SKILLS YOU NEED TO BE AN EXCITING SPEAKER … AND HOW TO GET THEM.

BARBARA KITE, WITH OVER THREE DECADES OF COACHING, SPEAKING AND ACTING EXPERIENCE, IS HERE TODAY TO SHARE THE BEST KEPT SERCRET OF MEMORABLE SPEAKERS- ACTING SKILLS .

AND HOW TO USE THE SKILLS PROFESSIONAL ACTORS HAVE, GIVING YOU THAT MAJOR EDGE YOU WANT IN YOUR PRESENTATIONS.

PLEASE GIVE A WARM WELCOME TO BARBARA KITE.

Short, to the point and addressing the needs of the audience.

What does your introduction say about you?

Barbara Kite is an executive speaking and professiional acting coach, director and actress in Portland Oregon. www.barbarakite.com

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June 25, 2009 Posted by | acting skills, fear of speaking, presentations, Public Speaking | 7 Comments

*THE VOICE and the Speaker

One of my clients, was just introduced to her diaphgram last week and now understands the power of a confident, enthusiastic, and the supported voice. 

There is a difference between what we think is the right “SPEAKING VOICE” and the friendly, energetic,  and connected voice you need to communicate to an audience.

I am so aware if  speakers using their “SPEAKING VOICE”.  It is disconnected from their bodies and their  feelings and it ends up sounding monotone.  I just turn off when that drone starts.

Every time I coach someone who has this disconnected SPEAKING voice, I ask them what they had for breakfast.  They tell me in their normal voice.  Then I tell them that’s the voice I want them to use.  At first they don’t understand but eventually with some work they get to see how talking like  you do to a friend is more authentic, available and trustworthy.  When that happens people want to listen to you.  They trust you and your message.

Another pet peeve of mine is inarticulate speech.  People slur their words together or never fully speak the full word itself.  I suggest slowing down.  This is a common problem and an easy fix if you just practice slowing down.  As for the slur, well try tongue twisters and over articulate to the hilt.  Have those lips moving and that tongue (an important muscle for your speech) over working.  (See my blog TONGUE TWISTERS for Actors and Speakers). You can surf the net for many other choices.  Just be consistent in practicing every day.  And please give each word it’s full value and say the WHOLE word. The best way to practice is my saying ONE WORD AT A TIME.

Another turn off is the aforementioned monotone.  Most people in their daily lives speak in a monotone.  After all it’s safe – you aren’t offending anyone by being neutral.  You also aren’t engaging anyone in an authentic and engaging way.   The solution?  Again practice a number of exercises daily that deal with power, pace, and pitch. 

The  FOLLOWING EXERCISE is used by speakers and actors but I want to attach a WARNING – These are best done first with a vocal coach as you could hurt that delicate instrument,  your vocal chords, if you don’t support it with the proper breathing necessary.

Find one phrase or sentence that you know well – happy birthday to you is fine. Now for

PITCH  1) start with a low voice and slowly move into a very high voice and back down again, 

for POWER   2) start with a very quite voice and slowly move int a very loud one and down again

and for PACE 3) start with a very slow speech and slowly move into a very fast and back to slow again. 

SPEAK ON THE BREATH –  that means take a breath and then speak on that breath.  Don’t take a breath, let it out and speak.  You’ll hurt yourself.

Again without the proper breath support you could do yourself damage so get the proper instruction from a vocal coach.   And then practice daily.

And last, but maybe most important.  I find a  large number of my clients speak quitely giving  off very low energy.  That makes them sound unenthusiastic, timid and lost. 

A prime component to being someone worth listening to is your enthusiasm and confidence.  Your passion is what sparks my passion and I want to hear you.  So heighten the energy.   Fill the room with your energy.  This does not mean shouting and hurting your voice.  It means finding your optimal speaking voice and using it fully.  The optimal speaking voice is the bottom of a yawn – with AHHH being said at the top of the yawn.

A FINAL note.  All of these exercises are about energy moving outward.  The inner work of connecting to images, phrases, purposes, audience, and being present are just as important.  

Don’t allow yourself to pull back, be quiet, shut down because fear creeps in.  Focus back out on the audience and feed them your energy.

Barbara Kite is an executive speaking and professiional acting coach, director and actress in Portland Oregon. www.barbarakite.com

June 18, 2009 Posted by | acting skills, presentations, Public Speaking | 1 Comment

*SUCCESS – Actors, Speakers, and everybody else too!

The following quote from an Acting Coach in Glasgow sums up what I think about success in any field.  And if you’re not paying attention to these words, maybe you should take an acting class.  By the way I have found this to be true of my acting class after 20 years of teaching.

“It takes much more than simply talent, and perhaps talent isn’t enough.   I am continually surprised when inexperienced actors that demonstrate no initial ‘talent’ in my classes end up producing incredible scenes.

Those people that struggle the most, are those that are inflexible in mind, those that have difficulty affecting (others) and being affected (by others).

Those people that talk but don’t listen, watch but don’t see. Those people that are particularly unaware of their self.

Everyone struggles to learn something new, it always feels awkward and wrong to learn a new skill, but it is those people that cannot get out of their own way (by themselves or with help) that will struggle the most with becoming an actor.

Mark Westbrook from his Acting Blog

Barbara Kite is an Executive Speaking & Professional Acting Coach, actress and director who resides in Portland Oregon www.barbarakite.com

June 15, 2009 Posted by | acting skills, presentations, Public Speaking | Leave a comment

*MEDIOCRE Speakers

Recently I’ve become more and more frustrated with the way people who call themselves “speakers” mangle the language, who don’t understand that variety and connection is needed in their speech and who are watching themselves and directng themselves.
What do I mean?

A lot of my twitter buddies and face book friends as well as wordpress people send me information I think useful and when I get there this person is destroying the speech.

Mostly these are the qualities “speakers” should be shot for:

Monotone – come on people this is not daily speech.  This is heightened reality where your voice is important and the levels of variety should be second nature to you,  here’s some information that might be helpful http://businesstalk.freetoasthost.com/files/Vocal_Variety.pdf

No eye communication – you need to listen to the audience because the energry always has to go out and because you need to alter what you are saying and how you are saying it according to the information you’re getting.  Granted in a video unless you are speaking to an audience, this is difficult but the focus needs to be NOT on yourself.

and

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU

It’s about the audience, the message, the gift you are gtiving.  Get over yourselves!

And PLEASE, please

get rid of the “speaking voice” or the “acting voice” – there is only one voice and that’s the one you use speaking to your friends when engaged in an interesting and exciting conversation!

And the last one – so many are trying too hard so back to IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

Well, I feel better.   Thanks for letting me rant.

watch http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

and get an idea of what I am talking about in engaging an audience and more.

 

Barbara Kite is an Executive Speaking & Professional Acting Coach, actress and director who resides in Portland Oregon www.barbarakite.com

June 12, 2009 Posted by | acting skills, fear of speaking, presentations, Public Speaking | 1 Comment

*GREAT SPEECH to study

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arNYCyTJ-DM&feature=related
Al Pacino’s speech
Notice, range, tone, rhythm.
Most speakers don’t have the training to have variety in their voice.  On a daily basis most of us speak in a narrow range that makes us sound monotone – not great for public speaking which calls for inspiration. 
And notice the authenticity, the timing, the connection of voice to body – the energy, the contact with the audience.
Acting or vocal classes can help or an individual coach.  I’m happy to work with people over the phone if necessary.   

Barbara Kite is an Executive Speaking & Professional Acting Coach, actress and director who resides in Portland Oregon www.barbarakite.com

June 10, 2009 Posted by | acting skills, fear of speaking, presentations, Public Speaking | 4 Comments

*SIMPLE way to improve your communication skills

There is one very simple way to improve your speaking skills right away.   Although I must admit with my last few clients, I realize, and so do they, that practice is essentional and awareness too. 

I’ve received feed back that it feels “phony” at first.

And I remember that being the case with me also.   But now it’s just second nature.

WHAT IS IT?

SMILE!

A smile invites people in and as a speaker you want them to come on your journey.  A smile says you are not to be feared.  A smile says I like you, I’m hear for  you.

I admit that as a young person I was constantly told to smile and really resented it and felt it phony if I did it on purpose.  I later saw the effect it had on people when speaking and how it opened me up to them too.  So I gave myself the instruction to smile more often because inside I was saying “come join me, I have something interesting to offer you” and that the only real way to communicate this was to SMILE. 

It took some work but now it is part of who I am.  I enjoy myself.  I enjoy others.  I enjoy what I do.  I like my life and know I have something worthwhile to offer.  Did all that come first and the smile followed or did the smile come first and help to have all the rest come about?

POST SCRIPT — I’m adding this the day after I submitted this blog.  I want to say I just went on line and saw a speaker smile too much.  By that I mean it wasn’t sincere. 

The lesson is that you need a sentence, a mantra going on in your head that makes you smile not the other way around.   So I say to myself – “This is so exciting.  I know I can be of help to this client, these people, this situation.” when  speaking OR  “Wow, they don’t know how good they are.” OR and especially if it’s to the camera – “this is great, this is fun”.  But always something that makes you smile. 

In acting you LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU.  YOU DON’T MAKE IT HAPPEN.  It’s about reaction.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | acting skills, fear of speaking, presentations, Public Speaking | Leave a comment

*PROFESSIONAL Actors warm up before they go on

You are about to enter another world.  Are you prepared?  You better be because it’s different from the one you just came from.

You will spend a short period of time (45 minutes, an hour, and hour and a half) communicating to a group of people who will be listening to you, hopefully to your every word.  That is what you want, isn’t it.  So are you prepared?  I don’t mean the script being down pat, and that you took a drink of water.  I mean physically, mentally  and vocally. We’ll deal with emotional and mental preparation at a later date.

How can I prepare you ask?

I PRESENT TO YOU THE WARM UP I USE FOR MY ACTORS.  THERE IS MORE I WOULD INCLUDE FOR PUBLIC SPEAKERS AND WILL DEAL WITH  IN A LATER BLOG.  THIS GENERALLY TAKES ABOUT 10 TO 12 MINUTES TO RUN THROUGH.  CHOOSE THE ONES THAT WORK FOR YOU AND BRING IT DOWN THE 4 MINUTES.  DO IT BEFORE YOU GO ON.

ACTORS ALWYAS WARM UP BEFORE THEY GO ON

Actors always warm up before they go on stage or in front of the camera, just like athletes do.  After all they are leaving one way of being and entering a more focused, heightened and dramatic way.  This requires preparation. 

And it’s always good to take time out to move  from one place, center, thought process to another.  It’s also always good to get those muscle needed to work awake and ready to go.

Here is the warm up my acting classes does every week.  It is a compilation of warm ups I’ve gather from various teachers and acting classes. 

ACTOR’S WARM UP

 Take Deep breath in all 4 areas (lungs, diaphram, lower abdomen and back) IN THROUGH YOUR NOSE AND OUT THROUGH YOUR MOUTH

 ONCE AGAIN – Same thing but now include a dedication to TAKE THE MASK YOU WEAR IN EVERY DAY LIFE, OFF – ALLOWING YOU TO BE VULNERABLE.

ONCE AGAIN – Same thing but now be aware of the energy (electricity) running through your body and where you stop the flow, where you short circuit it.  It needs to ALWAYS BE GOING OUT.

NOW LISTEN TO YOUR BODY FOR THE REST OF THE WARM UP.  Stay out of your head and listen to the subtle signals of tightness, knots, TENSION, pressure, etc. in your body. and BREATHE, BREATHE, BREATHE

Chin on chest, breathe in thro your nose as head goes back and you fill the room as if you were  a balloon pushing against the walls, ceiling and floor- breathe out thro mouth as balloon collapses and head comes down chin to chest

Now…..Same thing covering, owning all of the NE of Portland –

Again …same thing, covering, making yours, embracing all of Portland

IT’S ABOUT ENERGY FILLING A LARGE SPACE AND ALWAYS GOING OUT.

 Chin on chest, circle head all the way around a couple of times SLOWLY and now other way a couple of times while FEELING for any knots you may have in your shoulder, neck and between shoulders.

NEXT bring your shoulders up to your ears and hold it.  Your arms, hands etc are not stiff or tight and you are breathing through this exercise. Keep inching them higher and higher continuing to breathe and then hold them for 12 seconds.  Let go and let go again.

 SHAKE THE WHOLE BODY OUT – DO A KRAMER (You know when Kramer comes into Seinfeld’s apartment he comes in moving every part of his body).

 CHEW WH ILE counting (pretend to chew gum as you count)  to 20 opening your mouth wide – careful not to go back and forth, just up and down.

To check tension in  your jaw, let go of your jaw and try to bring it up just with your hand.  If tension exists tell yourself to relax, massage temples and try again.  If tension still exists just accept it and know that’s what you’re working with.

BREATHE – THE COUNT OF FOUR- IN THROUGH YOUR NOSE, HOLD ON EIGHT AND OUT THROUGH YOUR MOUTH ON SEVEN.   DO THIS THREE TIMES BUT FIRST go somewhere that makes you feel relaxed but alert– in thro nose, out thro mouth

NEXT YAWN and at the top of the yawn say AW from your belly with an open throat

  Tighten toes, (keep breathing), next include claves, then inner and outer thighs, buttocks (holding a dime),  (keep breathing and then include) lower abdomen, EVERTHING FROM WAIST DOWN IS TIGHT- TIGHTEN MORE and breathe. EVERYTHING FROM THE WAIST UP IS LOOSE

Now include rest of body by tightening chest, back, neck and shoulders.  Breathe into the knots and squeeze them out. Tighten upper arms, lower arms BREATHE, neck, face, eyebrows, nose, mouth, scalp, hair and SQUEEZE the people, the day OUT like steam coming out of your pours. Do this for 15 seconds

 LET GO and  hang like a rag doll.  Let go more

 Come up one vertebrae after another and SHAKE IT OUT.

BREATHE AND FOCUS ON YOUR TOPIC, YOUR MANTRA

Barbara Kite is a professional acting coach and executive speaking coach based in Portland Oregon www.barbarakite.com

June 8, 2009 Posted by | acting skills, fear of speaking, presentations, Public Speaking | 4 Comments

*HOW foolish are you?

How foolish are you?  How successfull do you want to be?

I have been seeing a large number of potential clients lately and if there is one salient feature amongst all of them, it is the inability to embrace foolishness.

The fear of  looking foolish has a great number of  potentially interesting speakers stuck in mediocrity, sameness, safeness – the land of boredom. 

This is how it plays -“I might be too loud, too quiet, too imposing, too animateed, too open to criticism, too wrong, too stupid….I MIGHT END UP LOOKING FOOLISH.”

(You should really refer to my previous blog – “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU (THE GIFT AND THE FEAR) https://bmkite.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/its-not-about-you-the-gift-and-fear/–    for more information). 

But suffice it to say, this litany of negative thoughts grow stronger each time they surface particularly because  they are never addressed,  just accepted and allowed to become part of the speaker’s truth.

And the result?  The result is that we are then careful; watching ourselves to make sure that no error occurs, that no foolishness gets out, that no failure is noticed.  So we commit to safeguarding our authentic (foolish), human (error/failure ridden) self.  

We end up being serious in our manner, monotone in our voice, boring in our presentation, safe in containing our emotions. No music from the soul, no real connection, no memorable stories are given to the audience to take away with them to remember us by and to be grateful they came to hear us.

The choice is clear – bore  your audience or chance looking foolish. 

How to allow FOOLISHNESS into your life?

  • Give up on perfection.

 

  • Remember it’s not about you – it’s about the story, the gift you are giving, the audience

 

  • Stay present

 

  • Get out of your own way

 

  • Focus on the audience one at a time and make eye communication (not brief eye contact)

 

  • Trust you know what you know and don’t have to go by your written speech

 

  • Be ready to improvise, change with the needs of the audience

 

  • See the story in detail, before you say it (practice beforehand seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, hearing your story in all aspects)

 

  • Give yourself permission to fail- lose your place, make an error, feel under the gun,  BE FOOLISH.  All you need to do is focus on your important gift (the message that is going to make a difference in the audience’s life) and focus on the audience and listen to them

 

  • And most important-  address the negative thoughts you have before speaking – answer them with something truthful and positive every time they come up

 

  • BREATHE, BREATHE ,  BREATHE (before you go on, while you’re on and after)

 

  • Remember speaking is like acting – it requires AUTHENTICITY, HEIGHTENED ENERGY and GREAT STORY TELLING SKILLS

Barbara Kite is an executive speaking and professional acting coach in Portland Oregon. www.barbarakite.com

June 3, 2009 Posted by | acting skills, fear of speaking, presentations, Public Speaking | 2 Comments