A bit of presentation training using language from the theatre!
At Ovation, we bring our professional acting experience to everything we do. We believe the hours that our team has spent on a stage or in front of a camera can dramatically alter the professional skills of our clients. But it’s not just about concepts and ideas. The technical language of the theatre and film is a useful tool when it comes to many forms of communication, and we'll share it with you in installments of our Speaking Technically series. Here are a few terms to add to your repertoire:
Stage Left, Stage Right: (Check out a great diagram here.) Those old, clichéd terms actually serve a purpose. Stage left and right refer to the actor’s left and right from the perspective of being on stage and looking at an audience. This can be especially helpful when working on movement for a group presentation or having a dress rehearsal with a colleague. Saying “ be more stage left here” saves you from confusing exchanges like, “Move more to the left. No, the other left.”
“Find your light”: Anytime you get in front of an audience, you need to make sure that you are seen. Actors talk about “finding their light” on stage, meaning the spot where the light makes their face the most visible. Especially when speaking in a large convention hall or conference space, take a moment to “find your light”. Look up at the lights above you, and move slightly until you feel where the light is hottest on your face.
“Hit your mark”: It’s not just for movie stars any more. Avoid wandering during a presentation by finding stillness in your feet wherever you land. While movement is definitely encouraged, remember to hit your mark when you get where you’re going. (This video clip shares some film set basics.)
“Ride the applause”: Or laughter. Or whatever. This is a technique actors use to keep from losing their lines under a loud audience response, and it is especially useful when speaking in front of large groups. Wait until audience response dies down before you continue speaking. That way, none of your content is lost behind the cheers of your adoring fans.
Props Check: Before any show, actors and crew do a quick sweep to make sure everything they need for a performance is ready to go. By doing so, they reduce the risk of surprises and malfunctions. Check any props you may use (PowerPoint, flip charts, etc.) before you present. A few minutes before can prevent a disaster later.