Public Speaking Seminar: Three Acting Truths for Your Presentation

Posted by Bridget Beirne
March 29, 2012

Consider this an instant, mini public speaking seminar!

public speaking seminar resized 600Friend of Ovation, Dr. Michelle Mazur, recently busted some public speaking myths in a great article on her blog. All of those myths got us thinking about truth. Truth is at the core of good acting- the audience must believe the actor as the character in the world of the play or movie. We wanted to share a handful of acting truths that you can apply to your presentation, while you’re out busting those myths:

1) If they can’t hear you, they won’t care: Stage actors are used to audiences talking back to them. One of the worst things they can hear from an audience member is “what did he say?”. If an audience has to struggle to just hear your words, they will not go the extra mile to actually synthesize your message. This applies not only to volume, but to diction- making your audience fight to understand you will quickly turn them off.

2)If you don’t have a reason to move, DON’T MOVE: Actors spend weeks of the rehearsal process working on blocking*, which is a road map for their movement on stage or film. We often talk about “motivation” when it comes to movement- there has to be a reason for the character to make a move, otherwise it just becomes wandering. In a presentation, strong, motivated movement is a great way to add interest and clarity. However, when you get into pacing, swaying, shaking, or tapping for no reason, your presentation starts to look confused, lost, and messy. We know you haven’t planned the best way to connect your body to your message.

3)When something goes wrong, acknowledge and move on: Live theatre is FULL of potential accidents- set pieces can crumble, costumes might rip, wigs fall off. Actors are trained to deal with these mistakes but to keep moving forward with the show. Presenting is also full of potential accidents- microphones die, demos go wrong, slides appear out of order. Instead of rambling, smirking, swearing, or generally falling apart when things happen, acknowledge the mistake and move on. Briefly ask for a moment while you attempt to fix the problem, then stop talking until you do. If you can’t fix it, move on entirely. Your audience understands that you’re human and things go wrong, but they also understand that the show must go on. Don't allow an accident to close the curtain on your presentation.

Need evidence of this "truth"? Here are some famous actors discussing the question "What happens when you make a mistake?" at the Tony Awards.

Bonus Fact*: Blocking is an immensely important piece of the acting process, and everyone goes about it differently. Some directors arrive with all of the movement blocked out, while some wait for the actors so they can create the movement together. Regardless of how the end product is achieved, the blocking is notated not only by the director, but by the actors and the stage manager as well. Planning the movement of the piece is THAT important.


interesting speech topics


Ringing Phone

Looking for help?