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Posted: March 27, 2013

Release your inner “bad actor”

Over the top does it

Julie Hansen

Most people don’t speak with as much energy or personality in business as they do in their personal lives—they tend to flatten things out, pull them in, tone them down.  Why?  Because we’ve been conditioned to go into “business mode.” 

What’s business mode, you ask?  Think of the soothing voice of an NPR host, a golf announcer or a flight attendant.  The very intent of business mode is not to rile, disrupt or stand out.  It’s background noise.  Our clients and prospects have dozens of people every day droning on to them in business mode.  Don’t be one of them.  When you’re in business mode you blend in with the crowd – no matter how exciting or innovative your offering.  In business mode you do not stand out.  And to not stand out as a salesperson means you are relying on your product or service to make the sale.

So how do you break out of business mode and into a mode that showcases your unique personality and energy at it’s best?

A BAD ACTING TIP:
While I usually give “good” acting tips for becoming a more successful salesperson or presenter, this tip falls into the “bad” acting category.  It is, however, one of the most powerful and proven ways to put significant life and energy into your any business presentation or conversation.

GO OVER THE TOP:
In order to pump up your energy before and let your personality shine through, use this rehearsal technique that I learned as an actor:  Read your presentation out loud with as much energy and excitement as you can muster.  In fact, go OVER the top, and then push yourself even further.  Think Second Grade Student Play or Bad Community Theater.  Emphasize every other word.  Gesture dramatically.  Throw your voice.  And most importantly, have fun with it!  (By the way, if you are one of those salespeople or presenters who is always percolating at a near-boil, please disregard!)  Ready? Time to let your Bad Actor out!

Your Presentation

Now that you’ve gone over the top, you’re probably thinking, that’s too big.  I might blow a client out of his chair.  Don’t worry.  You’re not going to do this with an actual client! The Bad Actor read serves as a launching pad for your actual presentation.  Immediately after going over-the-top, read your presentation again in your normal (indoor) voice.  You will find that your delivery is energized and exciting without sounding phony. This technique of going big then pulling back helps you retain some energy and personality in your presentation while keeping it real.  Letting your Bad Actor out is a great exercise to do before you go into a meeting and one you can easily do in your home or your car.

If you still find your presentations are getting stale or you’re stuck in business mode (the words sound canned, flat, or monotone), try mixing it up a bit:
• Rap or sing your presentation.
• Say it while dancing, exercising, or moving around.
• Emphasize random words.
• Eliminate the punctuation and mix up the cadences.

Don’t let a lack of energy stand between you and a sale.  Let your Bad Actor out and leave business mode to the competition.
 

Julie Hansen helps sales and business executives differentiate their solution and deliver winning presentations by leveraging proven performance skills from film, stage and improv.  The founder of Performance Sales and Training, Julie’s techniques have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies across the globe, including IBM, Oracle, SAP and local Colorado companies to gain a competitive selling edge.  Julie is an international speaker, sales trainer and the author of ACT Like a Sales Pro!  Learn more about workshops and keynotes at  PerformanceSalesandTraining.com, start a sales conversation at Julie@actingforsales.com  or connect with Julie on LinkedIn.

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