The performance you give in your webcast presentation can make the difference between capturing your audience’s attention or having the event fall flat. And make no mistake, it is a performance. When you speak in public, whether in person or in a virtual town hall, you are performing before an audience.
William Shakespeare once wrote “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” Whether we’re interacting (see what we did there?) with others in day-to-day situations or communicating with team members in a corporate video, we are all actors.
Before your next event, consider these five rules professional actors follow. They can improve the quality and impact of your performance in webcasts and virtual meetings.
RULE #1: BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU ARE PRESENTING
Ask any actor, it’s almost impossible to fool an audience when they do not believe in their character or the circumstances. Most acting coaches will tell you that acting isn’t about DOING anything–it’s about BELIEVING. Once actors deeply believe they are the characters who are really in the circumstances of the play or the film, their emotions, and their reactions will be natural and authentic.
The same holds true for your webcast. If you do not believe in what you are presenting, neither will your audience.
RULE #2: CLEARLY IDENTIFY YOUR OBJECTIVE
One of the techniques most commonly used by actors is to identify the primary motives that drive their character’s behavior by asking themselves “what does my character want from this scene?” When they are clear on their character’s objectives, the performance will be most honest and interesting to the audience.
As you prepare for your webcast, identify your main objectives by deciding what you want from your audience. Is the intention to inform? To entertain? To persuade? To motivate?
It will probably be a combination of objectives, but you must get very clear on what they are and hold them in your mind as you are presenting. By doing so, it will affect your physical presence, voice, gestures, and content to support your intentions and connect with your audience.
RULE #3: ALWAYS BE “IN THE MOMENT”
Ever heard the term “phoning it in”? In the acting world, it means that while an actor is saying all the right lines at the right time and following stage directions perfectly, their minds are elsewhere and not in the present moment. When an actor’s mind is anywhere else other than the present moment, the result is usually a flat and dull performance and will lose the audience.
The same holds true for a webcast and live stream presentations. Before your webcast, try meditating or exercises to improve your focus and concentration. The result will be an engaging presentation that’s much attuned to your goals and what your audience needs.
RULE #4: MAKE IT ABOUT THEM, NOT YOU
Ever been in a conversation with someone who just goes on and on about themselves or something that relates only to them? If so, you were likely looking for ways to get out of the conversation and you’ll probably go out of your way to avoid having a conversation with them in the future. Good conversationalists make the conversation about YOU – not themselves.
One acting technique that can help presenters is imagining they are in a conversation with the audience. This will help deliver a more “natural” performance even in the most unnatural situations (like standing in front of a camera and presenting material to people you cannot see).
Imagine that you are responding to your audience’s thoughts and reactions and addressing them as you go with statements or questions that direct it back to them like “So how do we incorporate this?” “What does this mean for you?” “You’re probably wondering why….” “You might be thinking this will never work, but…”
RULE #5: MEMORIZE YOUR “LINES” & REHEARSE, REHEARSE, REHEARSE
You know how great athletes make what they do look so easy? Practice. Practice and more practice. They spend most of their waking hours mastering the fundamentals and the basic maneuvers that are essential to their game. They practice until they can do it in their sleep.
It allows them to conserve valuable energy because they are no longer burdened with the energy-sucking task of having to recall or remember certain plays- it is so ingrained in their minds and bodies that it is automatic.
The same principle applies to actors and presenters. Have you ever seen an actor struggle with their lines during a live performance? It’s painful to watch and it immediately takes the audience out of the moment.
A good actor will rehearse to the point where they know their lines and characters so well that they can essentially “forget it” and put their energy into being in the moment. Even if they do not remember every single word perfectly, they know the scenes and the intentions well enough where they can move through it without missing a beat.
- Know your material inside and out, practice it often. Even if you have a teleprompter, you will NOT be able to read it naturally if you are unfamiliar with the material. If you have a script, read it aloud multiple times. Better yet, write your own script.
- Rehearse and prepare for their presentation and town hall meetings through role-playing and simulations.
- Don’t just memorize the words you plan to say. Connect to them. This goes back to the first rule in this post about being believable, but good actors and speakers can make a deep, emotional connection to their material in a way that allows them to move beyond memorization.
Successful webcasts and virtual meetings are more likely when the speaker approaches them as an actor. Remember to firmly believe in what you are presenting, be true to your intentions, stay focused during the broadcast, make it all about the audience and be prepared.
Following these acting tips isn’t about taking on a strange character and transforming yourself into something that you are not. It’s about harnessing the traits and talents that you already have and bringing them to light. These tips will empower you to feel more comfortable being in the spotlight and connect to your audience in a way that is believable and ultimately successful. Make that stage your own!