As the curtain closes, the lights dim and the actors delight in the sounds of the rich applause of a favourable audience the true magic of the theatre happens. It is in these moments where the actor may bask in the warm glow of having given a memorable performance, but that glow extends to illuminate the director, script writer, set designer, casting agent, costume designer, lighting and sound technician – and many of the people behind the scenes.

Professional Speakers are a little like the cast and crew of a theatre – all rolled into one. We too, are responsible for creating the scene, the mood, the story, the feeling and ultimately the impact. It is our responsibility to reward our audiences with experiences of sight, sound, and action – often without the rest of the story taking place at that time. As we create the visuals in our mind we share its power by drawing pictures in the mind of the audience. As we create the story, the words shape that visual to make it authentic, powerful and above all, real for our audience. We are not simply the messengers – we are the mirror into their lives as well as ours.

With sufficient practice and coaching, masterful presentations using theatrical skills creates an open window for people to see through. A skilled presenter is able to “take the audience with them” – to feel the pain, the joy, the challenges and the journey. This does not just happen and the key really, is practice and coaching. While there is no need to add an acting degree to your qualifications it makes a good deal of sense to raise your awareness by firstly looking at great actors and what they do to capture the attention of the audience. Ask yourself if body language, their walk, their movements, or how they command the space around them is what captures you. Then look at how they integrate the words and the movements, and lastly how they mesh it together with other influential factors.

Using drama is an effective way of adding another dimension to your presentations. Those dimensions include timing, props, movement, voice work and interaction with the audience. It means trusting the silences between words and action and allowing an emotional connection to happen for you and the audience. This dramatic effect can be astounding as it gives an audience time to process, think, and respond. Changing emotional levels within a presentation is also a powerful way to shift your audience from complacency to connecting with you. Knowing when the change gears in tonality, pitch, pace and story needs to be planned and rehearsed and you need to have the courage to take your audience with you.

Recently, I have begun using a series of three different types of large theatrical masks in my presentations and have completely transformed a “very good, but not great keynote on communication” to new levels both for me and for my audience. Each mask is a different size and either covers the whole face, my eyes and nose or just my eyes. At each stage of unravelling the complexity about communication and the different faces we show others, I use the mask to make the metaphor of what I am talking about. With each change, I see people responding quite dramatically. This is now become my signature story, and to it I add the other elements of drama through voice, movement, music and words.