Speaking Is A Performance

Ever wanted to be in show business? Congratulations, now you are. That’s because
every time you speak in public, whether in front of a crowd, on live television, or
simply in front of a camera, you are delivering a performance.

First of all, you are playing a character. Yes, that character may be you, but it is a very
carefully crafted version of yourself. I mean, as your actual self would you speak for
several minutes straight without pausing to see if the person you were speaking to had
anything to add? I can tell you that as my actual self I would never tell someone about
a political campaign for two and a half minutes before cheerfully asking the guy
standing next to me what the weather was going to be this weekend. Yet, I played that
version of myself every day for almost two decades.

By seeing your public speaking persona as a character, you give yourself permission
to be rid of some of your personality traits that may hinder your abilities as a speaker.
I am an introvert, and get horrible stage fright. However, my character has neither of
those traits. She’s a boss who can command any room she walks into and talk to

A performance requires adopting some aspects of theatricality to be successful.
Enunciation, pace, and volume are some of the most important things to remember
when you are speaking. You cannot run all of your words together. Make it so that
every consonant is heard. You need to speak at a speed in which every word is understood
and people can follow what you are saying. You have to speak up. No, you don’t have
to hit the back wall with your words or intonation, but you do need to make it so that
the microphone isn’t straining to pick up your voice.

Think about your stage presence. There is a reason that both television and theater
carefully organize the actors’ movements–or “block” their shows. They want to give a visually pleasing experience to the
viewers that tells a story. Think about how you want to block your performance.

Consider how you want to move your hands. Think about the times when you are
moving, and when you will stand still. Always be sure the audience can see you
though, even if you have to “cheat” so that your face is looking at them when your
body may be positioned away from them.

When needed, feel free to bring props into your performance. They can help you
illustrate your points in a way that words cannot. They can also help drive home a
surprising or informative point. Be careful though, one prop too many and you
become Carrot Top instead of an effective speaker.

Every performance needs rehearsal. If you think you are going to be able to go on stage, or into a live interview without having running your “lines” a couple of times you are going to be disappointed. You need to take the time to understand the peaks and valleys of your speech, and to edit out the rough parts. The higher the stakes, the
more rehearsals you need.

Putting yourself out there is hard. However, having the preparation of a performer on
your side will make it easier. It will help you take your public speaking to the next