As most theatres remain closed, our craving for great content has not waned, it’s only shifted. While great content has flooded the numerous streaming services, this period will likely go down as a golden age of television. Whether you find yourself and loved ones catching up on old favorites, trying on classics, or browsing the new release stream, one thing has not changed. We all still find ourselves in awe and with great appreciation of the actor’s craft.
I have been drawn to movies since I was six years old. I remember vividly sitting in the backseat of my father’s convertible, listening to the radio, and imagining that moment being the opening of a movie that I was starring in and the credits rolling through the air. It was the star quality – that authenticity and charisma – that I was drawn to; but it was that confidence, poise, and likability that I was really striving for, rather than actually wanting to be an actor. Movies and entertainment have this incredible power to transform us, to tap into parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed and inspire us to dream bigger and create new realities.
That feeling drove me to pursue opportunities, first in acting, and then in the business of television, for Sony Pictures Entertainment. At Sony, I was a sales leader responsible for the distribution of television and theatrical content in the domestic syndication market. I have had the great and rare opportunity to perform in a commercial, on stage in a play, and now, as a business owner and sales consultant. The lessons and learnings that I took from acting and storytelling have played more of a role in my effectiveness as a communicator and salesperson than I could have imagined. I marvel at the power of acting and storytelling and how that can influence all of us to communicate more authentically, more deeply, and to create the kinds of connections that make life so meaningful. The exchanges so vital in successful salesmanship rely on relational connection and rapport, the very heart of acting and storytelling in its purest form.
Selling, like acting and storytelling, is about communicating our own stories, our real emotions, our desires and fears, and being vulnerable enough so we can truly inspire and create change with people, not just through them. Communicating authentically and vulnerably will enable us to be both heard and understood.
If we lead with true authenticity and charisma – just as the actors I admired did, and as the great performers of our modern golden age of streaming – we can be heard and understood in a way that creates deeper and more authentic relationships, which is the precursor to greater trust and collaboration within our teams and organizations. While virtual delivery creates physical barriers, the opportunity to be felt is still present and now more than ever, can separate you from those that underappreciate or don’t understand the power of authentic communication. Below are a few ways we can do this:
- Make contact – so simple, so forgotten. Eye contact into the camera rather than the person makes this more challenging, but making contact also includes open body gestures and standing for larger meetings to demonstrate your energy and alignment to the group or mirroring to one individual are all available to you to stay engaged and interested in what’s being shared.
- Remove self-consciousness – Pause to assess what is happening. Are you resonating? Does the group you’re speaking with seem interested? Make sure you are being clear with them. If you are just going through your own agenda, you will lose your audience.
- Check in often – Use people’s names now that it’s right in front of you so you can’t forget it!
- Practice tongue twisters – One of my favorites is from Warren Beatty, nominated for his role in Bugsy – “Twenty Dwarves Took Turns Doing Handstands on the Carpet.” These exercises sharpen the tongue, build confidence, and make everything you say clearer and more compelling, a must since you have to connect in a virtual world.
- Be the message, not the words – Professional speaking coach and former actor Mike Landrum remarks that the actor works to memorize the role, not the lines. Remember who you are and why you want to communicate. Then share what you want to say.
The power of story, and our own narrative especially, informs so much of our lives, how we show up, and how we interact with others. Tap into your own inner actor to enhance your authenticity and charisma. Use your intention to connect and leverage the power of video to transform yourself like a real actor! You will be more memorable while others struggle. Building strong relationships with others, communicating effectively, and being both heard and understood is so much more simple and accessible than we realize, but we must first get clear on our own needs in order to get clear on the needs of others.
Andrew Deutscher is the founder and CEO of Regenerate. For over a decade, Andrew has worked with a variety of high performance disciplines from professional athletes to the US Air Force, translating cutting edge strategies for sustained energy and performance to applicable life strategies for high pressure career professionals. In a world of rising demands and increased obligations, he’s helped thousands of managers, leaders, and executives shift from reactive to proactive to recapture their days and win back their lives.