Master Presenters Use Stories to Add Impact and Drama

by Ricky Nowak - Date: 2007-03-23 - Word Count: 884 Share This!

As the curtain closes, the lights dim and the actors delight in the sounds of the rich applause of a favourable audience the true magic of the theatre happens. It is in these moments where the actor may bask in the warm glow of having given a memorable performance, but that glow extends to illuminate the director, script writer, set designer, casting agent, costume designer, lighting and sound technician - and many of the people behind the scenes.

Professional Speakers are a little like the cast and crew of a theatre - all rolled into one. We too, are responsible for creating the scene, the mood, the story, the feeling and ultimately the impact. It is our responsibility to reward our audiences with experiences of sight, sound, and action - often without the rest of the story taking place at that time. As we create the visuals in our mind we share its power by drawing pictures in the mind of the audience. As we create the story, the words shape that visual to make it authentic, powerful and above all, real for our audience. We are not simply the messengers - we are the mirror into their lives as well as ours.

With sufficient practice and coaching, masterful presentations using theatrical skills creates an open window for people to see through. A skilled presenter is able to "take the audience with them" - to feel the pain, the joy, the challenges and the journey. This does not just happen and the key really, is practice and coaching. While there is no need to add an acting degree to your qualifications it makes a good deal of sense to raise your awareness by firstly looking at great actors and what they do to capture the attention of the audience. Ask yourself if body language, their walk, their movements, or how they command the space around them is what captures you. Then look at how they integrate the words and the movements, and lastly how they mesh it together with other influential factors.

Using drama is an effective way of adding another dimension to your presentations. Those dimensions include timing, props, movement, voice work and interaction with the audience. It means trusting the silences between words and action and allowing an emotional connection to happen for you and the audience. This dramatic effect can be astounding as it gives an audience time to process, think, and respond. Changing emotional levels within a presentation is also a powerful way to shift your audience from complacency to connecting with you. Knowing when the change gears in tonality, pitch, pace and story needs to be planned and rehearsed and you need to have the courage to take your audience with you.

Recently, I have begun using a series of three different types of large theatrical masks in my presentations and have completely transformed a "very good, but not great keynote on communication" to new levels both for me and for my audience. Each mask is a different size and either covers the whole face, my eyes and nose or just my eyes. At each stage of unravelling the complexity about communication and the different faces we show others, I use the mask to make the metaphor of what I am talking about. With each change, I see people responding quite dramatically. This is now become my signature story, and to it I add the other elements of drama through voice, movement, music and words.

Dramatic effect can also happen when a surprise element is incorporated into a presentation. Sometimes, I move from being completely predictable and almost scripted to a free flowing casual, almost lost in thought approach which makes the audience stop and go, "Wow, what just happened". Creating a sense that something else may change keeps the audience more attentive and focussed on listening.

I ensure that the drama takes place on the platform but the ripple effect on the audience is really what I am looking and striving for. I always reflect on my presentations to see what worked, what didn't, and of course, why it did work. Was it something else that happened that actually led up to the dramatic effect actually happening. A great way of really seeing this is by videoing your work and also having a respected and trusted colleague or mentor giving you feedback on your dramatic effect.

My goal is to make powerful points not PowerPoint so I deliberately avoid using a PowerPoint presentation for dramatic effect. I believe we as presenters can capture the stage, the platform, the room or the auditorium through understanding the impact of our presence and content. Dramatic effect takes place when people are connected to the topic and the timing is right. My most memorable experiences as a student of Drama was clearly the impact of my tutors who demonstrated more largely than life the skills of how to improvise, stretch the imagination, free up the inhibitions or fears about doing things a little bit differently. But that is now what seems to be making the biggest impact with audiences. They look to presenters to help them learn how to stretch their imagination and thought, how to let stories shape the pictures in their minds and clearly how to feel that something you have said, something you have done was indeed a little bit different.

Related Tags: present, delivery, speaking, public speaking, message, presentation, audience, drama, presenting, speak, audiences

Ricky Nowak CSP MAICD MCEOICertified Speaking Professional | Corporate Trainer | Executive CoachDirector, Confident CommunicationsRicky Nowak, The Communication Catalyst, builds top performing teams and individuals by delivering programs, innovative solutions and accelerated coaching techniques.http://www.rickynowak.comPO Box 2047 Wattletree Road East Malvern Victoria 3145+613 9500 9886 | Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

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