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T


he link between the acting and business worlds is closer than you think.


Many companies use actors in an innovative way to boost presentation and public speaking skills. In the workplace, acting terms


are common. HR and L&D professionals talk about ‘character’ references, ‘performance’ reviews and discuss the ‘role’ people have, while marketers have ‘audiences’ to target. People speak and act differently


around their boss, colleagues, clients, customers, family and friends. And, like an actor on stage, when


we are at work and asked to present to an internal or external audience, we only have our own voice and body to achieve our objectives and be engaging. We can also get incredibly


nervous and suffer from public speaking stage fright. When it comes to giving a


presentation at work, our aim is usually to reinforce positive views or change negative perceptions about our company or industry. We might also be trying to raise awareness of a product or service, or change the behaviour of one or more of our stakeholder groups. We want our audience to react in


some way after they have seen and heard our presentation. However, there needs to be a connection of some sort to cause a reaction. To achieve our objective, we must be able to present confidently or we will fail to engage with those watching and listening. We’ve all sat through presentations where the speaker’s obvious nerves and style make us, as the audience, feel uncomfortable. Just thinking about giving a


presentation to a group of strangers, friends or work colleagues can make someone’s palms sweat and their heart race as the nerves kick in. Let’s face it; public speaking can be daunting. Yet it is a fear many employees must conquer if they want to progress in their careers. Using actors to help people improve public speaking skills works because


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they have trained for years to master how to calm nerves and make the most of their voice and body language to connect with audiences that are critiquing their every move and word. A presentation does not start


when we open our mouth. People judge us as soon as we enter a room or stand up to speak. Tis is not about turning





We want our audience to react in some way after they have seen and heard our presentation


employees into actors. Tis is about using very technical, performing arts training to help managers deliver more effective presentations. You want people to listen to what is being said, not just hear someone talking while they check their emails on their phone or zone out completely because the presenter is boring. So how does this type


of training work? Breathing


One of the easiest ways an employee can improve his or her presenting skills is to adapt their breathing to calm their nerves. Proper breath control helps the


voice to work more efficiently, it keeps the heart rate even and brings a sense of calm and connection to our bodies. People who present regularly


should work on taking breaths from the diaphragm rather than from the lungs. When people get nervous and panicky, they tend to become short of breath, which affects their voice and throat as they struggle to speak effectively and clearly. To find the diaphragm, put your


thumb on your last rib and place your hands on the bottom of your stomach. If you are breathing correctly your shoulders will not move up and down. Te diaphragm acts like a set


 | December 2016 | 27


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