Guest blogger, Sean Hall
I’m sitting at the head of a boardroom table, high up in a glass tower somewhere on the 32nd floor, at an initial meeting with a client. Across the table are a group of serious-looking professional men and women: polite, well dressed and patiently waiting for me to tell them why an actor can help them to communicate.
When I first joined the NIDA Corporate team back in 2011, I thought the answer to this question was simple. I knew business professionals were required to present their ideas to an audience, and in order to be successful a presenter needed to be able to express their thoughts with confidence, energy and influence.
Each of these elements I had learnt while studying to be an actor at NIDA:
The deep centred breathing technique that I spent hours developing in voice class over several years helps to manage nerves and build the presenter’s confidence
The time spent in the rehearsal room examining posture, body language and physicality aids a presenter to increase their personal presence and energy
The Given Circumstances method of character analysis assists a presenter to not only affect and change their audience convincingly, but also authentically.
Yet, as I considered my response sitting in this opulent boardroom, I realised that more important than explaining the mechanics of how an actor can help a business presenter was the depth and breadth of the experience that I had seen so many of our clients access through their training with NIDA Corporate.
I thought about the HR coordinator who had found the courage to stand up to the bullies at her work. I remembered the group of general managers daring themselves to take a risk with their professional presentation. I thought of the ecstatic call from a group of risk analysts who had trusted themselves enough convince the board to take up their vital recommendations.
Their experience, I knew, was something that went much deeper. These people had been transformed.
So what was my answer to the serious professionals across the table?
An actor’s job is to wrestle with the emotional, physical and intellectual life of a character so that they can help us to connect with the story. Think of your favourite film, the great scenes and characters which have moved you – the final farewell in Casablanca, Scarlett O’Hara on her knees in the dust in Gone with The Wind, a drag queen on top of a silver bus lip-syncing to Verdi through the Australian desert. These actors’ performances connected with us in a powerful way.
This is what underpins all our interactions, all our communication. Whether as Hamlet or the leader of an organisation, we communicate so that we can connect, so that we can inspire change, so that people can understand and that we are understood. We communicate so that we are heard.
And this is why an actor can help you and your team become better professional communicators.
All views expressed are authors own.