Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com Editor
If all the world’s a stage, it’s no wonder those with performing arts backgrounds do so well in non-theater jobs like politician, educator or business executive. And it’s no coincidence that many young executives are turning to acting classes to help build their confidence and create a stronger presence.
Whether you’re looking to be a corporate star or simply to communicate more effectively, here are 10 techniques actors use to improve their performance:
1. "Become" the audience.
When getting ready to walk into an interview, present at a meeting or speak before a large crowd, don’t think about yourself and your anxieties. Rather, become outward-focused. Visualize yourself as part of the audience ready to enjoy your performance. This not only will calm you, but help you better connect with your audience.
When people get nervous, their breathing tends to get shallow, which means they’re taking in less oxygen and functioning less effectively. Taking at least one deep cleansing breathe -- breathing in through the nose to fill your lungs and exhaling out through your mouth -- will calm your nerves and keep you in the present.
3. Carry Yourself with "Presence."
Much of presence is, quite simply, bearing (how you carry yourself). Those with presence are very secure about themselves. But even if you’re not feeling particularly confident, here is how to look as if you are:
*When standing: Stand with your weight evenly distributed on the balls of both feet so you feel balanced and can move easily. Carry your rib cage high and contract your stomach muscles.
*When sitting: Sit with your rib cage high and inclined slightly forward. If at a desk or conference table, put your forearms on the table resting them midway between your wrist and elbow, hands clasped ? and no fidgeting!
4. Voice Control.
Put resonance in your voice by contracting your abdominal muscles and speaking from the diaphragm. To correct a nasal tone, put one hand on your abdominal muscles, the other flat on your chest. Say "low," "low," "low" over and over until you feel vibrations on your chest bone as you speak.
No "up-talking." Speak in as low a tone as feels natural to you, and always end sentences on a lower tone. When answering the phone, don’t say "Hello?" in a high-tone, questioning voice. Emphasize the "low" and the person on the other end will feel as if they’re in good hands.
6. Appreciate Silence.
Learn to be comfortable with silence. Don’t step on your lines or someone else’s by rushing in to fill conversational pauses. Silence adds power to your message and signals that you are confident and thoughtful
7. Use Eye Contact to Connect.
f your eyes aren’t up when you talk, you won’t command attention.
*When speaking to a group: Don’t make the common mistake of scanning the audience. You’ll look shifty eyed and get dizzy to boot! Instead, lock eyes with different individuals in various sections of the room, changing sets of eyes as you finish each thought.
*When speaking one-on-one: Maintain eye contact with your partner by looking from one eye to the other - not with the swinging regularity of a metronome, but as though you were planting a message in each eye. This not only will make your eyes sparkle, but will touch the listener and make you appear sincere.
8. Never Look Desperate.
f you come across as needy, subservient or too eager to make a good impression, people will become uncomfortable ? even recoil. Believe you are worthy. As much as you want to land the job or make the sale, seem as if you’re asking for nothing.
9. Have Enthusiasm.
Enter the room radiating energy and purpose. As former actor and Nobel Prize winning play and screenwriter David Mamet said, "You should go on stage as if to a hot date, not as if to give blood."
10. Make Graceful Exits
And finally, if you want to be brought back for a second or third curtain call, exit on a high note -- and always leave them wanting more.