Acting and public speaking have only two things in common: both need an audience and both involve words coming out of your mouth. That is where the similarities end however. Actors who teach public speaking often disagree with me on this point because they fail to recognize that public speaking is the art of communicating with an audience whereas acting is a means of entertaining an audience. |
Admittedly, I do hope that those who are public speaking are entertaining in their delivery but that is not the first priority of the speaker. Your goal in delivering a speech or presentation is to communicate information in some fashion. It may be informative or persuasive. Either way, however, your objective when standing at a lectern or at the head of a boardroom table is the imparting of knowledge to your listeners.
Certainly an acting background can be beneficial for public speaking, but it is important to understand that acting involves taking on the role of a different character. This is definitely the greatest difference between the two. Your goal in acting is to be someone else which is the last thing I want for you as a speaker. The best public speakers are themselves, first and foremost. Remember, your audience did not come to hear someone else speak: they came to hear you.
What is also interesting is that actors do not need strong communication skills to be great in their craft. Their strength lies in their ability to be someone else. In fact, some actors are shy or introverted, avoiding talk shows and interviews as much as possible. Likewise, being great at public speaking does not mean you will be great in acting. You may or you may not be.
One of the most striking differences between the actor and the public speaker is the quality of voice so obvious with the former, especially stage actors. Most have had some form of voice training and it is apparent in how clearly they speak as well as in their ability to have total control over their voice and their nervousness as well. Yes, stage actors are nervous but the audience does not see it or hear it because they breathe with support, something most public speakers are not doing.
Voice is obviously the vehicle for both professions but most public speakers are unaware of the tremendous benefits of voice training. Those who have had good training discover a voice that is richer, deeper and sounds more mature. In addition, they are able to increase their volume without shouting which is known as projection. This is only possible if you use your chest cavity as your primary sounding board, something the stage actor is fully aware of.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Nancy's Voice Training Workshops.
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