Last month, we brought you some presentation training in the first installment in our Speaking Technically series, and we hope you’ve gotten a chance to try out some new vocabulary. This next installment introduces some new terms and phrases from the world of the theatre and film that are helpful to use when it comes to process and focus. Remember, even if you have to explain these terms once to a colleague (who clearly hasn’t had a chance to catch up with the OC Blog!), after they are defined you will have a clear and concise way of describing some important locations, concepts, and activities.
Wing Space: The wings are offstage areas to the left and right of the stage, usually obscured by some sort of curtain (or, if you are presenting in a large hotel ballroom, perhaps some strategically placed panels). When you are standing in the “left wing” or “right wing”, you are offstage. This is especially helpful when organizing entrances into a speech or group presentation, or when setting your space with equipment you may need: “Gary, why don’t you wait in the left wing and enter after I introduce you?” or “We won’t be needing the flip chart- let’s stash it in the right wing” is way more specific than just saying “over there”.
Run Sheet: These sheets are the key to ensuring that a frantic actor or stagehand doesn’t lose their place mid-performance. A run sheet breaks the show down into acts, scenes, and (in a musical) often songs or production numbers*. They are usually hung on a wall in the wings. Should anyone have a moment of confusion while offstage, a quick glance at the run sheet can set them back on their way. Consider having a run sheet for your next presentation- not an overly detailed outline, but just a small list of major points that can serve as a quick reminder should you “go up” while presenting. Speaking of going up-
Going Up: Ah, the actor’s (and presenter’s!) nightmare. When an actor forgets their lines or lyrics on stage, it is referred to as “going up”. (We talk about going up in our blog post, Don Draper and the Tongue Twister.) Should you happen to lose it during a presentation, pause and stop talking. Continuing to ramble until you find your place will only undermine your credibility.
Speed Through: Sometimes a cast of actors will get together and have a Speed Through. During these rehearsals, they speak the entire play together as fast as possible without any physical movement. This can help an actor solidify their lines and make discoveries about the pace of the play. Giving yourself a Speed Through before you present is a great way to ensure that you know your content and the flow of your presentation. Just make sure that you return to a slower presentation pace when you finally take it to the stage.
*Bonus Fact! In a musical, the big, lavish, song-and-dance numbers are referred to as “production numbers”. Often, they are so involved that they become a “production” in themselves! Here’s a classic example from Busby Berkeley’s 42nd Street- enjoy!