Great Speakers Use Acting Skills

public speaking using acting skills

*Why I prefer the messy speech over the perfect one

I specifically used the word “messy” because it goes beyond “imperfect” and connotes allowing more freedom than most of us allow ourselves. 
I know the clients I work with need a lot of coaching to let go of the need to be perfect, not to fail, not to look foolish.  It reqiures quite a bit of encouraging for them to  be  even marginally messy.    
I once worked with who kept trying to be perfect in their speech and therefore were constantly checking and watching to see if they were or not, thus, taking the attention away from the audience and the topic. That means the energry is going away from the audience. This ends up with the losing the audience.   
The messy speech usually ends up not being messy when given by the “need to be perfect” speaker because they know the subject matter backwards and although they are afraid they will freeze, look foolish or lose their place, they need to be coaxed into realizing they won’t.   They’ll just sound authentic AS IF THEY ARE GIVING THIS SPEECH FOR THE FIRST TIME which is what every actor knows as the key to a fresh., engaging, authentic performance every night.  
And don’t kid yourself your speech is a performance – it requires authenticy, heightened energry and great story telling skills JUST like actors do.     
Letting go is the key to great acting and great speaking. Perfect the speech and then let it go. Screw up, fail. You can always include what you’ve forgotten later.
Don’t sacrafice connection, authenticity, humanity for perfection. The latter is never memorable.
for more information about speaking and actng skills.

September 8, 2009 - Posted by | acting skills, fear of speaking, presentations, Public Speaking


  1. I like the point you make about the problem of aiming for perfection in a performance. It’s the same in sport. In the speaking and training I do, I like to draw on sport (and performing arts) and golf is my thing. When you fear hitting the ball off line and try to over-control the swing, guess what? It goes more off line! It’s much better to decide what you’re going to do, commit to it 100% and if you mess up, it’s not because you didn’t give it your best shot. You simply learn from the failure, build on that and move on. Fear of failure (and its partner, the pursuit of perfection) is a fool’s game – it leads to constriction and a poor result.

    Comment by Andy Thorp | September 11, 2009 | Reply

  2. Can I share something else with you Barbara? I love to see passion in speaking and adore the movies made by Alexander Payne – he did Sideways and About Schmidt. In Sideways there’s a beautiful scene between Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen where they discuss their shared passion for wine. They’re almost making love to each other through words! There’s such an amazing connection between them both.

    And the final scene with Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt is simply wonderful, so moving, so sad. I know you coach use of words Barbara, but isn’t so much of it in the eyes?

    Comment by Andy Thorp | September 11, 2009 | Reply

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