When you’re in the spotlight, think like an actor | E-Neighborhood Advisor
There are times in life when you’re forced to take center stage: making a business presentation, going on a sales call, delivering a eulogy. Michael and Amy Port, two trained actors turned speaking coaches, say that when you feel like all eyes are on you, it’s helpful to think like an actor.
Here are three general principles to follow:
1. Know Your Big Picture Goal
An actor always performs with a clear purpose or motivation in mind. When you’re thinking about your next high-stakes situation, ask yourself the same question that actors ask when developing a character: “What’s my end goal?” This will help you make choices that are in line with your larger purpose.
2. Think About How You Want the Other Person to Feel
The choices made by an actor during a performance — in speech and movement — are in the service of attaining their goal and achieving a specific impact on their audience. Actors call this “playing an action.” Take, for example, a job interview. If you want the employer to feel that you’re someone who is open and collaborative, your action could be speaking about how excited you are to be working with members of your prospective team and bringing up specific names.
3. Scared? Accept It
Before you go into a situation that matters, take some time to identify your greatest fear or fears. Be as specific as possible. This practice of pinpointing your precise emotional state is what psychologists call emotional granularity, and people who exhibit greater emotional granularity have been shown to be more able at regulating how they’re feeling and responding appropriately.
Then, go for it. Bargain down the price of a new car, pitch that new client, or address a community board meeting. Often, “to be high-level performers both on and off the stage, we need to take great risks and not worry that we’ll be criticized for doing so,” says Amy.