Monday, 4 April 2011

Acting skills calm nerves when giving presentations at work

The link between the theatre and the workplace is closer than you might think. 

We all have 'audiences' who critique us at work and who we need to engage. Like an actor we have objectives to meet from everything we do and we need our audience, whether our boss, a client or a colleague, to respond in the right way.

When it comes to delivering presentations actors can share their presenting secrets. When we are asked to present to an internal or external audience we, like an actor on stage, have only our voice and body to work with. 

Unless we learn to use both effectively and find ways to calm our nerves any presentation can be boring and ineffective as the audience switches off, however important the content. It can also mean an over-reliance on PowerPoint.

Actors study for years to hone their vocal and physical skills and anyone who needs to present at work can dip into the acting toolbox and bring out something to help them. 

Let's start with breathing.

When we get nervous our breathing can get shallow and we run out of breath. Often this is because people breathe from the lungs rather than the diaphragm as actors do on stage. The diaphragm is a muscle which can be trained through practice to give you more breath during any presentation, especially if the nerves arrive mid-way through your speech.

Another mistake people often make before they start speaking is to try and clear their throat. This can damage the vocal cords and dry the throat. The best thing to do is to yawn. This opens the mouth and throat and stretches the jaw as well as letting in oxygen.

In fact, In the same way you would warm up before running you should also warm up the mouth, jaw and tongue. Actors will pretend they are chewing a toffee to really exercise the jaw and recite tongue twisters to get the mouth juices flowing. 

Try it the next time you are waiting to present.


Next time: the importance of tone of voice when presenting


  1. Hey Steve:
    Great information. I do a lot of presentations and public speaking. This is very helpful.

  2. Your post really helped me to understand about this. It has great details and yet it is easy to understand.That's what i was looking for. I will definitely share it with others.Thanks for sharing.
    Customized Essay

  3. Hey this is a great information and will really help a lot of actors... thanks for sharing... Acting Skill Improvement