Edit ModuleShow Tags

The opening night: Taking command of the stage

Each presentation is a new beginning-an opening night, if you will.A performance, whether on the theater or business stage, is a temporal and fleeting thing. Yet, it can leave a vivid impression on your audience long after you have exited that stage. The client or group you're in front of today did not see your flawless, passionate performance of yesterday.

They can judge you only on the present. So how do you consistently deliver a fresh, powerful performance day after day, client after client? Just as an actor learns to re-create the magic night after night, audience after audience, you can also learn to deliver a confident, compelling presentation
each time by using proven acting techniques to take command of the business stage.

Acting techniques for taking command of the business stage:

• Communicating with intention.
• Speaking with animation.
• Giving nonverbal cues.
• Adding vocal variety.


The first time I stepped onto the stage, I was overcome with fear and self-consciousness. "Take command of the stage!" the director shouted. "Own the spotlight!" I immediately proceeded to make my actions bigger and more dramatic. I moved about at random, bouncing from one side of the stage to the other. I practically shouted my lines and over-emphasized every other word.

As you can guess, this is not what he meant. It took me months to understand his direction, but it doesn't have to take you that long. In order to grab the audience's attention and get them to buy into the "reality" of your role, your business, or your product, you have to inhabit your space with complete conviction and confidence. With the same techniques I used to command the stage, I started winning more business, breaking sales records and presenting confidently to Fortune 500 companies.


By this point, you will have clarified your intentions and become clear about what you are saying and why, but somewhere between your thoughts and the recipient's brain, the message may be getting diluted, miscommunicated, or not expressed at all. Perhaps your voice is hard to follow, your words imprecise, your body language distracting, or you display a lack of conviction. Relying on your words to do all of your selling is a quick route to being out-sold.

Actors need to be experts at effective communication. They know that communication is based on the need to be heard by their partners, typically in the hopes that it will impact their feelings, attitude, or behavior. It is more than just sending out words; it is sending out feelings as well. As sellers, we need to remember that communication is a circle, not a straight line. It is not enough to feel as if you're communicating if your prospect doesn't receive it, or misinterprets it, or is not compelled to act on it.

The intention of our words needs to be supported by our physical presence. Just as we should always be reading our recipients for nonverbal cues, they are reading us for cues as well. Prospects get confused, or worse, suspicious when our body language is not congruent with our words. So how do we make sure that our outsides match our insides? Let's take a closer look at the elements that make up our physical delivery and how an actor approaches each.


No, I don't mean talking like a cartoon character. I am referring to the pre-Disney dictionary definition of animated: full of life, vivacity, and spirit. Uta Hagen defines animated talking as having our words literally "spring from us, from our body, mind, and soul, with spontaneity, urgency, and inevitability." In order for the words to "spring from our body, mind and soul" with "urgency," as Ms. Hagen suggests, our need to talk must come from three core beliefs:

1. We have something important to say.
2. We must say it now.
3. We must be the ones to say it.

If you are unsure or vague about any of these beliefs, your delivery will lack commitment, passion, and urgency.

Reprinted, with permission of the publisher, from ACT LIKE A SALES PRO: How to Command the Business Stage and Dramatically Increase Your Sales With Proven Acting Techniques © 2010 Julie Hansen. Published by Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ. 800-227-3371. All rights reserved.
{pagebreak:Page 1}

Edit Module
Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen, is a sales presentation expert and speaker who helps sales and business executives deliver winning presentations and demonstrations. She is the author of the new book Sales Presentations for Dummies (Wiley) available this fall and ACT Like a Sales Pro (CareerPress). Julie is the founder of Performance Sales and Training and her techniques for leveraging proven performance skills from film, stage and improv in sales and business have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies across the globe, including IBM and Oracle as well as local Colorado companies.  Learn more about workshops and keynotes at  PerformanceSalesandTraining.com, start a sales conversation at Julie@actingforsales.com  or connect with Julie on LinkedIn.

Get more of our current issue | Subscribe to the magazine | Get our Free e-newsletter

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

GenXYZ Photo Booth Fun

GenXYZ party goers loved the photo booth and the chance to appear on the cover of ColoradoBiz magazine. Enjoy candid images from the evening.

Three obstacles to connecting on and off the job:

As you open yourself up to more options in life, you expand your ability to face challenges with a positive perspective, which has a direct impact on the outcomes in life, including how you see yourself and others.

It's time to rethink old-school performance reviews

Change is happening almost everywhere at a pace we’ve come to accept, but some critical areas remain stuck firmly in the past. One of those is performance reviews, which some brave companies are rethinking with great success.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Thanks for contributing to our community-- please keep your comments in good taste and appropriate for our business professional readers.

Add your comment: