Why CEOs should steal techniques from actors

Amateurs borrow, experts steal. To get great results from your video performances, steal the techniques actors use to come alive on screen.

Executives shouldn’t become actors

First, let’s establish that performance is not the same as acting. Acting involves taking on the characteristics of a different person. Rather, performing is not embodying someone else, but capturing the elements of your best self.

Despite this difference, many of the acting practices and principles will help you put on a great performance. While it may sound simple to just be yourself, the reality is that you have many sides, and you’ll need to channel the right version of you that’s appropriate for each situation and audience. That doesn’t mean you’re being phony. You’re simply adjusting for the context.

Use real emotions to convey your message

Actors always look for the truth in the parts they play. They spend an enormous amount of time rehearsing their lines and movements—not to make them fake, but to imbue them with humanity.

One of the most common techniques for an authentic on-camera performance is to stir up a memory that matches the emotion you want to convey.

This is what actors like Meryl Streep and Al Pacino use to summon a real smile on camera. They give us pieces of their lives—the ultimate gift of an artist to the audience—and for our purpose, the ultimate gift a leader can give to their audience.

Storytelling reveals our truth

While your role on camera will change with each context, the need to show that you’re a thoughtful, genuine human will be constant. Your task is to channel a part of your true self that’s in tune with each message. A great way to do this is by sharing relevant stories from your past. Great leaders often use storytelling on video by framing a past event into present context.

The last thing you want to do is come across as inauthentic. Rather than rehearsing your answers to interview questions, get really familiar with your message and the right words will flow. Some of the greatest public speakers have taken cues from filmmakers.

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“It’s one thing to understand the role of video in business communication, it’s another to know how to use video to solve actual business problems. Vern Oakley gets that.”


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