REDUCING TENSION FOR ACTORS AND SPEAKERS

Beyond Crystal Ballroom

You are about to go on stage (to speak or act) AND might feel tension in your neck and shoulders – and this may cause you to appear hunched. It may also cause a tightening in your larynx – producing the breathless quivering or shaky voice associated with nervousness. Tension is also tiring and consequently it may have a detrimental effect on your overall performance. First of all you need to find a quiet place, where you can be alone for a minute or two. You can also do the exercises in a back room or backstage, where the audience can’t see you.

METHOD FOR EASING TENSION

Excerpted from How to Reduce Tension Minutes Before Your Presentation or Speech by Rana Sinha, June 19, 2007

There are a few simple exercises that can help to eliminate the tension that you are likely to feel just before your presentation. Most likely you feel tension in your neck and shoulders – and this may cause you to appear hunched. It may also cause a tightening in your larynx – producing the breathless quivering or shaky voice associated with nervousness. Tension is also tiring and consequently it may have a detrimental effect on your overall performance. First of all you need to find a quiet place, where you can be alone for a minute or two. You can also do the exercises in a back room or backstage, where the audience can’t see you.

EXERCISES FOR REDUCING TENSION IN NECK AND SHOULDERS

To ease stress in the neck place your cupped hands at the base of your skull and press your head firmly back into them, holding the push for about 10 seconds before releasing and repeating. During this exercise keep your elbows back and try closing your eyes.

EXERCISES FOR REDUCING TENSION IN LOWER BACK

A good way to relieve stress in the lower back is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart and reach for the sky. Point your fingers straight up as you stretch your arms above your head and keep stretching them as you feel the pressure on your back ease. Keeping you feet firmly on the ground, push your pelvis forward gently and hold yourself in this position for just a few seconds before gently relaxing back to your start position. Then you can move your hands and your hips sideways a few times. This exercise helps to ease the muscles in the neck, back and hamstrings.

BREATHING EXERCISE

The technique of alternate nostril breathing aims to balance our entire autonomic nervous system by breathing alternately through the right nostril.

First clear your nostrils by breathing in and out quickly several times in a row. Next, use the thumb to close your right nostril and your ring finger to close your left nostril alternately. Begin by inhaling through both nostrils. Then breathe out through one nostril, while blocking the other, and then switch and breathe in through the other nostril. After three complete breaths, exhale without switching sides, and do three more breaths.

After this you will surely be in a better frame of mind to go and give your best. Enjoy your presentation.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/613429
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rana_Sinha

An ACTOR’S CRAFT – What Speakers need to know

RalphFiennes

In an Actors’ Studio interview, Ralph Fiennes said that in his audition for RADA he was told, not to make it happen but to let it happen. And that, that advice changed his work.

There are many ways of saying it so that it might sink in. Because when I first heard get out of your own way and leave yourself alone at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, I didn’t get it.

What does it really mean? How do you go about learning to do this?

LET IT HAPPEN. Do not make it happen.
  • All your attention has to be on the person/audience you are speaking to– totally. Making eye communication – not eye contact – is what matters here. That means listening to what you are getting from your partner/audience and adjusting accordingly.
  • You have to give yourself over to revealing yourself (it communicates your humanity and what you and the audience have in common).

GIVE UP ON PERFECTION – It is the enemy of GREAT.

You really have to STOP:

  • Directing yourself and anticipating your actions/reactions,
  • Judging yourself, watching yourself, and comparing yourself.

YOU NEED TO BE PRESENT

This can’t be stressed enough. YOU NEED TO BE VERY PRESENT – much more than you are in everyday life.

  • Ask any actor or athlete; if their mind wanders even for a second from the scene or the ball or what is happening around them, if they miss a beat, their fellow actors/athletes AND THE AUDIENCE feels it too. In that instant everything is off.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

TRUST, trust, trust yourself and your instincts, no matter how “wrong” they seem in your mind. Your judgmental mind does not belong in the scene.

  • Marlon Brando in “Last Tango in Paris” laughs when his father dies. It makes complete sense when you see it. TRUST.

AND MOST IMPORTANT – Remember IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU

That’s right, it is not about you IT IS ABOUT

  • the story you are telling,
  • about the gift you are giving,
  • and about the audience you are giving it to.

 


INTERESTED IN A GREAT SPEAKERS LEVEL TWO WORKSHOP?

Set up just for those people who have worked with me already.

(In a previous Great Speakers Workshop or in One-on-One sessions).

  • No more than 6 people for six hours.
  • $240.00 per person
  • includes 1/2 hour phone consultation as well as my comments on a current speech you might be working on.
This time would be spent enforcing basic tools – vocal work, energy, authenticity, story telling skills etc.

If you are interested contact me and let me know what days would be best for you.

A SUREFIRE WAY TO A MEMORABLE SPEECH

How many speeches do you remember?  Do you know why?

You must have heard it often – “It’s not what you say but how you say it.”

In order to be memorable, you need to connect to the audience on an authentic and an emotional level.  94% of speakers use their ‘SPEAKING VOICE’ – the one where you speak quickly, quietly and in a monotone. And that is why people don’t remember any of your important messages.  Is your voice a disembodied sound or is it connected to your message and the real you?

In my coaching practice I see a lot of speakers who don’t realize that their ‘Speaking Voice’ is what’s killing any chance of getting their message across.

Your ‘Speaking Voice’ is different from the normal every-day voice you use when talking to friends and co-workers – the one that sounds natural, is connected to your body and is conversational.  And yet most speakers don’t even think about using any other voice but their SPEAKING voice for presentations.  This voice is usually higher, faster, more monotone and sounds as if you are imitating a speaker.  On top of that there is usually less energy and clarity in that voice.

A SUREFIRE WAY TO GET YOUR AUDIENCE TO LISTEN TO
(and remember) YOUR MESSAGE.

SPEAK FROM YOUR HEART

First – Ditch the ‘speaking voice’

You know what I mean – you clear your throat and you connect to your head and bring your voice up an octave and speak the words the way you feel a good speaker would say them.  Instead try to speak from your heart and breathe before you start speaking and throughout your speech (it will slow you down), connecting to your feelings and giving them to your audience.  In other words have a conversation with the audience – don’t give a speech.

It is a common problem I run into with the people I work with.  We think that there is a special ‘speaking voice’ we need to use to sound like a confident, professional, respected speaker.  That voice usually belongs to someone else, someone you’re copying, not you.  And the truth is that the audience won’t listen to you until they hear your authentic voice, because if your message is to be believed then first your voice needs to be connected to your body and your feelings.

That also means that even before you speak, you must consider carefully how you write your speech.  Is it coming  from that authentic, conversational place – the place where you speak to people trying to engage them in your ideas and interact with their responses?  Because if you write from your head and then try to speak those words, it will sound as if you are reading words that don’t really matter to you.  The feelings come first, the words second.  Every actor knows this.

So sit down with a friend and tell them what excites you about the next speech you are giving and how it will be helpful to the listeners and engage them in your passion.  Then you can edit and then you can “memorize” the speech and then the most important part – forget it and improvise.  You may not know it, but you know this speech, and if you miss parts of it then realize that what you do remember comes from your heart and will be heard.  It doesn’t come from the page where it will certainly be forgotten.

Second thing to do is to slow down.

Most speakers rush through their speeches.  Let them hear your words and absorb your ideas one at a time before they move on to the next one.  This takes practice.  It means you have to read something out loud, every day, at half, (yes I said half) the speed you normally do.  Only that kind of exercise will slow you down – some.

The third thing to do is to listen

That’s right, speak to the individual people in the audience, pause, and listen to their response and adjust and continue.  (See the previous newsletter for detailed information on LISTENING.)

 


My next GREAT SPEAKERS USE ACTING SKILLS WORKSHOP will be held on Saturday, October 19th 2013. Interested? Here’s more Information.

Two Surefire Ways to Make a Good Impression

When people meet they give and receive energy.  This is our “connection”.  Whether you speak to one person, five, 100 or 1000, how you manage this energy is what leads to further connections -or not.  So, what kind of energy do you give off?

Can you recall meeting someone and not ever wanting to see them again?  Have you met someone you immediately liked and wanted to spend more time with them?  Can you distinguish what happened in each situation?

Here are two experiences I’ve had that might remind you of some you’ve had.

Recently I had to visit two health professionals; an oral surgeon – yuck and a dermatologist (very expensive).

Larry the oral surgeon had someone escort me to his examining room and stayed with me whileArt_ArtDechard I waited for him.   He then appeared smiling, warm and attentive.  He asked me what I needed and let me talk until I was done.  He made eye contact.  He took his time.  I felt he cared and was really listening to me.

Joe, the dermatologist, had me wait by myself until he arrived.  I don’t mind that as I’m used to it.  RKite Although I have to admit, the attendant in Larry’s office was a nice person who seemed interested in my concerns.

When Joe walked into the examining room, he said hello and kept looking at his notes.  When we talked he wasn’t listening to me, he was more interested in the notes.  When he did look up, I felt he was not really seeing me.    He never made eye contact.  When he examined me the energy I got from him, was that I was a thing, not a person.

Where is your focus, your attention, when you speak to someone?

The first and most important element of making a good impression is LISTENING and the second is SMILING.  That’s what Larry did.  Let’s start with LISTENING.  It requires a number of tools actors use constantly. And here are three important elements you should use to connect to others.

a) BEING PRESENT – and this means really, deeply aware of the other person (the color of their voice, the energy coming from their being, the relaxed or uncomfortable zings you’re getting from them, the eye communication that is there or not, the body language and more).  You see if actors take their attention away from their acting partner, something could happen that the audience sees and they don’t and it makes them look stupid.  The stage is under a giant microscope where everything is seen so the actors up there better be very very present with their fellow actors and with the audience.

b) BEING SILENT.  Wait to hear what the other person will say next.  Give them a few extra seconds so they can gather their thoughts to form their words.  We jump in because we’re in a hurry or want to make an impression when the other person hasn’t really finished.  Silence gives us a chance to hear them more deeply.  Silence gives them a chance to see us.  Silence means you are both okay taking time to be with each other.  That’s a gift.

c) PUTTING YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES.  Listening requires you empathize with them.  Even if this is your 100th client, remember what it’s like to have their concerns, and their feelings around that.  They have never heard your information before.  They want to absorb it.  Take your time.

The second element of making a good impression is SMILING.  Forget forcing a smile.  It doesn’t work.  Everyone can see what it is.  The smile has to be connected to your body, just as your words need to be authentic and yours.

When actors have to be in a love scene with someone they don’t care that deeply about, they find something about their partner they like and make it their focal point – what beautiful eyes they have, that smile is killer.

If you’ve just met someone, find something about them that makes you smile and then smile.  A smile is always an invitation, and a welcome.  It puts people at ease.

You may have your own way of approaching your interactions with clients.  I personally, get excited that I can make a difference in their lives and coach them to become better and better speakers.  Some have told me they now enjoy speaking.  That always makes me smile.  Most all inform me that after working on their acting skills  before a speech that they receive great feedback.  I smile knowing I have something worthwhile to contribute to people’s speaking goals

So when someone is  LISTENING to me and SMILING,  it makes me feel seen, special, and important and I will definitely want to see that person again.  What do you do?  Let me know.

There is a very important exercise called THE COMFORTABLE EXERCISE that all my acting and speaking clients do (see previous post SIDEBAR:The Comfortable Exercise).  This helps them understand on an organic and experiential level what it means to listen and be present.  Almost all learn something about themselves from this exercise.  And those who use this technique find some amazing changes in their communication with others.

SIDEBAR:The Comfortable Exercise

For 24 HOURS make EVERYONE you come in contact with, feel “comfortable” – not happy – but comfortable.  Be clear about what that means.

Artwork 011Therefore, keep close watch to see that what you are saying and doing is making people comfortable.  If it is not making them “comfortable”, try something different.

You must be PRESENT, FOCUSED, LISTENING ON ALL LEVELS OF YOUR BEING, ADJUSTING TO WHAT YOU RECEIVE FROM THE PERSON, TAKING YOUR TIME AND PUTTING YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES.

This is your objective for 24 hours.  You may not tell them what you are doing.

AND WHEN YOU FINISH THIS ASSIGNMENT, I HAVE ONLY ONE QUESTION.  WHAT DID YOU LEARN?

Secrets to Great Speaking

HughJackman“Everybody should do this  – acting training.”  ~Hugh Jackman

(excerpts from an interview by Jame Lipton on INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO)

Hugh Jackman’s deeply insightful observations about acting skills are eye openers for speakers and are considered the best kept secrets for successful personal and public communication.

He talks about:

  • CONNECTING,
  • LISTENING,
  • BEING PRESENT,
  • BREATHING
  • and BEING AWAKE.

These are the key ingredients known to all great speakers and they got there by using acting skills, whether they took acting training or not.

I truly believe that the job of an actor and the drive of an actor is stimulating the internal journey in life which is to get deeper and deeper into our understanding of who we are and that actually through acting and through releasing and breathing and through CONNECTING with other actors and allowing yourself and the story to connect to the audience, something greater happens.

If you learn to connect to your fellow actors on stage, you learn how to deeply reach an audience.

He continues about being open and connecting to the human nature in all of us through acting skills.

Everybody should do this – acting training – BREATHING – if you’re not doing it right, you’re not open and you’re emotions aren’t open.  You’re not going to live as full a life.  Simple.

The things you learn as an actor about LISTENING, about BEING PRESENT and who you are, about human nature.

Hugh Jackman goes on to talk about the very nature of communication and how it begins with the deep understanding we have of ourselves and therefore of each other.  He talks about connecting to the audience and what we all have in common – our hopes and dreams.  If we can connect to that, if we can share that when we speak, we have it all.

If we understand we are here to help each other, we come from a place of giving.  If we really have a gift that will make a difference in our audience’s world, and we share it from this place, be it a better system for their internal audits or a new management approach or a widget that produces a better product, it will be embraced.

Do you believe you have a gift to give to others or are you just selling something you don’t care about?  Every actor knows that your audience and your fellow actors can always read the subtext.  The truth will seep through eventually.  The reward is in making a difference and making a living.  Both can be done to the advantage of your clients and to feeling your life has worth and meaning and that you are part of the solution.

Hugh Jackman continues further along in the interview to talk about how to be a great actor and I add how to be a great person, – a great contributor to life, yours and others.  He says to take risks.

Being able to make a fool of yourself.  I’m not talking about clowning.  I’m talking about really falling down, dying on stage, having a horrible night, being terrible in a role or whatever it is.  Unless you are willing to embrace that possibility you’ll never get to the top.

When taking a risk, be prepared to completely fail… this will open so many parts in you.

I think everyone should learn it.  Acting training is really about BEING AWAKE.  And one of the greatest roadblocks to a relationship is how easily we take things for granted.  It’s easy to be asleep.  And the relationship with the audience is part of your ability to connect to them so that you can deliver your gift.  Your have to be awake, present, and listening, in order to connect.  On stage every night it has to be for the first time.

And I would add it has to be for the first time whenever you speak in front of an audience, even though you’ve done the same speech a thousand times.  Acting skills teach that.  And it’s not a bad idea to approach each person in your life anew as if they might have changed, grown, and you might have too.

I’ll be giving short exercises to help you with CONNECTING, LISTENING, BEING PRESENT, and BREATHING so you can take advantage of these tools.  I’m starting with BREATHING  – see the post SIDEBAR:Breathing below.

 Join an Acting Class … Find a Speaking Coach with Acting Skills.

Call me for a free 15 minute consultation and abundantly change your communication. -Barbara Kite, barbara@barbarakite.com

SIDEBAR:Breathing

When Hugh Jackman talks about first learning to breathe properly, he thought by heaving his chest in an out he was taking a full breath.  He wasn’t.  Breathing is not just necessary for vocal support, it’s for ENERGY, RELAXATION, MIND BODY CONNECTION and more.  And all singers, athletes, actors and trained speakers know about the importance of proper breathing.

A SIMPLE FIRST STEP TO DEEP FULL BREATHING
The very best way to understand correct breathing is to start by lying down on the floor, some place comfortable and supporting your body.  There is less work involved in this position than standing.

First relax all limbs, one by one.

  • Focus on your feet and ankles  and say RELAX three times,
  • Now your calves and knees, same thing – say RELAX three times,
  • thighs and buttocks,
  • belly and chest,
  • lower, middle and upper back,
  • shoulders, arms and hands,
  • jaw, neck, face and scalp,
  • nervous system, spine and whole body

Let go of your jaw.

  • Put your hand on your belly and breathe in, pushing your belly way out, and fill your waist (diaphragm) and chest next.
  • Hold it for a second.
  • Now breath out, starting with your chest then waist and then belly, pushing your navel into your spine, getting all the air out.
  • Hold for a second.
  • Breath in again, more fully than before.
  • Do this three times.

Try it during the day.  Take a few deep breaths to re-energize your mind,  body,  life and work.  For a version you can do at work start at Let go of your jaw (standing up of course).

How to Memorize Your Speech

Jon Farley© 2013 – By Jon Farley

(Although specifically written for speakers, every actor out there with a long monologue needs to read this.)

Do you speak, more or less extemporaneously, from a set of bullet points?

What if you have to, or want to, memorize a speech?  This may not happen often, but it does come up when there is specific language, or a rigid time constraint on your presentation.  And some speakers actually want to do this so they can have the freedom of repeating a set speech when needed.

It’s been reported that Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and sought-after public speaker, scripts and memorizes his speeches so that he is able to deliver them in an effortless and concise manner and end exactly on time.

For many people, memorization is difficult.  Recently, I had to learn a 1600 word monologue for a play I was doing.  It was very precise, almost poetic language.  I had to be word-perfect, and I knew that the memorization techniques I’ve used in the past would be inadequate for this task.

So,  I designed a new process for myself, and I have been tremendously pleased at how well this technique worked.

Here it is, simplified to a series of easy-to-follow steps:

1. Know what you are saying:  Before you start memorizing, you need to understand the text.  If you didn’t write it yourself, you will need to do some study.  If you did write it yourself, you’ll have to take it off the page and say it in your own words, not the “written/speaker’s” words.   How would you do this speech if you were telling a friend?

2. Make a study-script:  If you have your text in an electronic format, you can copy it into your new document.  If you are working from printed material, you’ll have to type it in by hand (which is a great idea since that helps with memorization).  It’s a first step toward owning the words.

Format your study-script as follows:

  • Set the type-face to 14 or 16 point Times Roman.  This is an easy to read font.
  • Insert a line break after each sentence.  This will make each sentence start at the left margin.
  • If you have a long compound sentence, insert a line break after each clause.
  • Leave an extra blank line between paragraphs.

(The effect of the above formatting is to put each thought on a line of its own.  The text is visually transformed into a sequence of thoughts and it is very easy for your eye to follow.)

  •  Print out your study-script on paper to work from.  Don’t staple the pages.  At some point you may want to lay them out side by side.
  • As you work with the study-script, use it as a place to keep your notes.  Write in the margins.  Circle or underline words.  Make this document the on-going record of your work on the speech.

3. Read it out loud:  Start reading the speech out loud in its entirety from your study-script.  Do this a couple of times a day.  Don’t bother reading it silently to yourself.  That won’t help.  What you are starting to do is to build a physical memory of what it feels like to say and hear those words.  Don’t worry about inflection or pace at this point.  It is too soon for that.   As a matter of fact the less inflection and pacing the better at this point.*  And, don’t deliberately try to memorize anything yet.  All you need to do is read it out loud from the page.  Make sure you read the whole thing each time, without interruption.

4. Give it a rest:  At some point you are going to get sick of the piece, or your schedule won’t allow you time to work on it.  That’s OK.  Set it aside for a day or two.  It’s good to alternate work and rest.  What is happening on those rest days is you are building a memory of the physical act of saying the monologue.  Rest is a necessary part of the process.

5. Look up:  After working with your study-script for a week or two, you will realize that you remember big sections of your speech.  Perhaps there are sentences or even whole paragraphs that you can say after simply glancing at the first word.  When you reach this point, you are ready to do some focused work on memorization.

Make the following adjustment to the way you are working:  While still holding the study-script, say as much as you can without glancing down.  But don’t make up a word that you can’t remember.  If you are stuck on a word, glance down at the page and get it, then look back up and keep going.  (Occasionally when delivering a speech, you may have to make up a word in order to keep going.  That’s fine for then, but don’t ever do this when you are learning the text!)

6. Work back to front:  When you are at the point when you almost never have to look down, it is time to really start drilling the piece.  Do this from the back to the front.

  • Get the last paragraph perfect first.
  • Then get the next to last paragraph perfect and always say it with the final paragraph, so you have them as a block.
  • Then do the same with the third to last paragraph and always connect it to the following two that you have already set.
  • Continue this way, adding earlier paragraphs and connecting them to the remainder of the speech until you reach the beginning of the speech.

This is something of a psychological trick, but it means that when you finally have the whole speech committed to memory, you will find that as you say it, each paragraph is easier to remember than the one before and when you get to the end, you will be at the part you know best.  Thus the final point of your speech; the call to action or whatever you want your audience to take away, will be said with the utmost composure and confidence.  Boom!  Success!

7. Explore:  Now that you have the speech in your body, you are free to explore all the subtleties of the piece.  This is when you will make the discoveries that will give your presentation dimension.  And what is exciting is that by now, you know the material so well that this exploration is organic and effortless.  You are free to follow every impulse without ever worrying about the words.  *And since you didn’t focus on  inflection and pacing at the very beginning, you don’t now have to fight against a sing-songy pace or  predetermined inflections that don’t work.

So that’s my memorization through osmosis technique.  It is based on steady “smart” work instead of “hard” work.  I believe you will find the results to be impressive.  You will be able to approach your presentation without fear of forgetting the words and thus will be able to devote all of your attention to your audience and to the story you have to tell.

Guest Contributor Jon Farley is an actor, writer, clown and aspiring aerialist residing in Portland, OR .

____________________________________________________________________________

ONCE MEMORIZEDArtwork 057

What do actors do to avoid their words sounding “memorized”, disconnected from their bodies (as if they are reading it)?

How do they make those words their own again?

Well, first we have to back track to the writing of the speech.

If  you’re the one writing the piece you should have written it the way you speak.  And if it’s someone else’s words, you beg them to make the changes necessary to make the words your own.  This will also help with the memorization.  I know when I’m in a play where the words feel like my own, they flow and are easier to memorize.  Everything is right with the world.  But if I have to memorize a script that feels foreign to me, it will take a good deal of work to get it down right.  And that’s why this article by Jon Farley should help you especially with someone else’s script.

Do yourself a favor as author.  Pretend you’re telling one person, a friend, who would love to hear about the information in your speech.  It almost writes itself that way.  And with some corrections – especially the introduction and conclusion – you have your speech.

Do the same for the one written by someone else.  Say the content of the speech to a friend. Let yourself remember what that feels like, especially in your body (some say they feel a connection in their chest).  You’ll have made it more your own by putting it in your own “conversational” mode, as opposed to “written” words.  It will make you feel as if you are really talking to an audience on a personal level and after all that’s what you want.  You want to talk to them, not at them.

That done, remember that after it’s memorized to go back to that initial place where you’re talking to one person.  Feel where that lives in your body.  Notice where the enthusiasm is caught (a word or phrase or image can nail it for you).  Notice where you’re interested in persuading, explaining, sharing because that’s what you want to do with an audience.  Bring this to the last stages of memorizing, where you’re playing with it.  Your enthusiasm for a gift that you are giving to them which will help them towards their goal, is a magnet. Make sure you bring that to your final speech.  And always remember that you are talking to a friend, –  someone who’s interested in hearing all about it.

“I Did What You Told Me To Do.”

Beyond Crystal Ballroom, Julie Davis, (c)2012

I find that the best Holiday gift I can receive is when people learn exactly what they need to become better speakers.  I’ve been truly gifted recently.  Great results from two individual clients who attended my workshop have me smiling and happy.

Peter heads a very active and large charity.  He is new to the position.  He called because he was being asked to make short speeches, often.  He is a soft spoken man and that wasn’t helping him rouse the troops to give in time and money.  When I had him focus on the exciting results he could accomplish and all the people he could help; Peter became louder without thinking about it, he spoke with authenticity and with passion.

Last week he called to tell me he was very pleased with the speech we’d been working on.  I said “What did you do?”  He said, “I did what you told me to do.  “What did I tell you to do?”  I asked.

“You said to make eye communication with everyone and make sure that I landed my words on them.  You said it wasn’t about me.  And you told me to fill the room with my energy.  I love speaking.”

I didn’t think I’d ever hear that from him.

David is an administrator at a Maritime Museum and he sent me videos of events he’d spoken at.  He was already pretty good but I knew he could be better and so did he.

I received an email from him the other day with an attachment.  He had done a radio commercial for the Museum and wanted me to hear it.  I couldn’t believe it.  He sounded like a pro.  I know because I am a pro.  I called him and said “David, what did you do?  That was terrific.”  “I did what you told me to do,” he said.  “What did I tell you to do?”  I asked.

“You said that I should speak on my breath and that each word mattered and that it wasn’t about me but about the community at the Museum.  I want to take your acting class.”

He’s starting in January.

As a coach you sometimes don’t know what hits home with people, but Peter and David were listening.  Both these men had something else in common.  They worked hard at the assignments they were given and with the practice came the mastery.


NOVEMBER /DECEMBER GREAT SPEAKERS USE ACTING SKILLS WORKSHOPS

IMG_1709[1]If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve already seen the great responses I’ve had to the workshops.  One participant came up to me after the first hour (of five) and told me she had already gotten her money’s worth.  Wow!  I wanted to say, “Okay we can all leave now.”

Another participant, who already did a lot of speaking, was reluctant to attend.  He thought the workshop would be too basic but I promised him he would be challenged.  He wrote to tell me what a treat it was for him to take my workshop and how he learned new things and re-learned others.

I received lots of fabulous feedback about what people learned from the workshops but now I want to focus on what I learned.  In both workshops it became clear to me that certain common tools were being neglected by most speakers.  And here they are.

BREATH SUPPORT – Nobody takes this seriously.  And yet the allure of your voice, the power in your speech, the passion in your presentation, the variety in your words and images all are linked to YOUR BREATH.

GIVING VALUE AND MUSCLE TO EVERY WORD (even “the” and “and” and “a”).  Nobody takes this seriously.  And yet if you take a close look (which is my job) you will notice that you leave the audience when you drop the energy in a word, you leave the audience when you slur and glide over a word making it unimportant, you leave the audience when you don’t USE EVERY WORD.  You know what happens when you leave the audience?  They’ve been waiting for an out.  Just a couple of seconds of not caring enough about them and they’re gone.  Is that what you want?

PAUSING AND SLOWING DOWN.  Nobody takes it seriously.  When I ask people to slow down and use pauses, most don’t feel comfortable enough to really take this concept in as they feel exposed.  It always takes me six or seven or more times to get them to slow way down and take much longer pauses.  We think we’re boring so we want to move it along.  We don’t realize that the audience is hearing our words for the first time and they need help digesting the new information we’re giving them. They do that in the pauses.

I’ve talked about all this before but it bears constant repeating in new ways to bring it home because it’s THAT important.  I know.  I’ve seen the results in my workshops and in my individual clients.

And there’s morebeing present, focus, concentration, authenticity and the gift.
I’ll discuss these in my next newsletter.  Also in January there will be a guest article, “How to Learn a Monologue (or a speech)” by Jon Farley.  It describes an approach he developed for learning a twelve minute (1600+ word) piece of text he will be performing.

Artwork (c)2012, Julie Davis

Bill Clinton: An Amazing Speaker – find out why

A short class in how to:

  • Speak from the heart to the audience, not at them,
  • Making it a conversation with them, not talking down to them,
  • Improvising your speech so it’s totally yours.

Look, Listen, Learn.  READ THIS OVER CAREFULLY AND REALIZE WHAT YOU CAN DO TO OPEN UP YOUR AUTHENTICITY TO INCLUDE THE TOTAL, PRESENT, PASSIONATE, AUDIENCE CONNECTED YOU.

How Bill Clinton Ad-libs His Way To a Winning Speech – CNN.com 

By David Kusnet, Special to CNN, updated 10:58 AM EDT, Fri September 7, 2012

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“A game changer for speakers that guarantees results.”

Great Speakers WorkshopGREAT SPEAKERS USE ACTING SKILLS WORKSHOP

Friday, December 7, 2012 – 10AM – 4PM


Last weeks workshop was OUTSTANDING.  So many smart and interesting people came and each one left with something they could apply immediately to their work. I was so energized by them. Now it’s  your chance!

Register by November 30th and receive a discount.

“Barbara Kite has a gift that I am ever so grateful to have been the recipient of.  I have done some speaking but I knew that I was good, not great!  Barbara knows how to make us great.  She  is courageously committed to giving each of her clients the compassionate truth about what they need to achieve excellence. She taught me to have the courage to be totally authentic.  Be more, don’t do more.  Thanks Barbara.” –Suze Cumming, PCC, The Nature of Real Estate

“As Henry Emerson Fosdick once said… ‘Have the daring to accept yourself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the game of making the most of  your best.‘ That is the feeling of my experience at the Great Speakers Workshop.  Fun and rewarding. Thank you Barbara…loved the course.” – Cathy Nehl, Nehl & Assoc., LLC

GREAT SPEAKERS WORKSHOP INFORMATION

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Christopher Walken – About the art of learning the words

From NY TIMES MAGAZINE Article Christopher Walken Isn’t as Weird as You Think Christopher Walken interview by JESSICA GROSS Published: November 9, 2012

On the OBSESSIVE DEDICATION THAT’S REQUIRED

…I’m like that about learning a script.  I like to stand in my kitchen with the script on the counter that’s about chest high.  Usually I do something else at the same time – make a chicken or slice vegetables  – and all day long I just read it over and over and over.

HOW DO YOU RUN LINES AND COOK CHICKEN AT THE SAME TIME?

It’s the power of distraction. My own way of thinking is very conservative, very linear and not particularly imaginative, but if I look for things in different places, sometimes things happen.