Make Your Pitch More Theatrical

Part of making a good presentation is your ability to present in a theatrical manner.  So much of persuasion is in voice and body language, and that’s where theatrics can be very helpful.  Not surprising, it’s difficult for many people to call on those theatrics.  They might be shy, inhibited or not think it is appropriate in a business situation.  But, like most things in presenting, a little theatrics goes a long way.  Putting in a dash of acting is more interesting for the audience. It is a lot more memorable.

We always talk about how difficult it is to hold the audience’s attention.  By adding theatrics it creates a much more interesting presentation for the audience and they will stay tuned more intently and for much longer.

I have a wonderful exercise for helping people come out of their shell and start to experiment with using theatrics in their presentation.  I ask them to read out loud The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Most of you are probably familiar with The Raven.  Here is why it is such a great exercise for coaxing acting out of presenters.  You can read The Raven as some school children might, on cadence, in a sing song way, with a mostly flat tone.  That’s how most people in my workshop first read it. In fact, that’s how most people make presentations. They recite the lines they were given with little or no emotion.  Yet, whenever I interview audience members on what they like about a presentation, the first thing they like is that the speaker had passion.  Passion is conveyed, in part, by theatrics.

 The Raven is filled with theatrical opportunities.  Take another look at it and you’ll see how to use theatrical pauses, changes in modulation, large emotional swings, both sad and happy, changes in the speed you speak, and the ability to just ham it up.

Here’s an example of before and after. Before:

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Now read it with these stage directions:

[Build in intensity]Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
[Act out how you would be apologetic] `Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
[Almost chuckling while making an excuse for not hearing the tapping]But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ [Long pause] – here I opened wide the door; –
[Pause] Darkness there,  [Pause] and nothing more.

Apply these stage directions to your next pitch.  Perhaps to the closing of your next pitch.  Take special note of the pauses.  A pause is one of the most remarkable tools you can use in a pitch.  A pause can be used to get attention because everyone looks up when the speaker stops talking.  A pause builds anticipation, as it did in the above stanza.  A pause enhances retention.  People are more like to remember what you said if you build a pause into it.

We all know the great value of storytelling in presentations.  Audiences remember stories better than any other form of communications. Thus, if you have a great story and you mix in a teaspoon of theatrics in telling it, you have a killer piece of persuasion to use in your next pitch.

Do what I suggest and you will lose pitches…nevermore.

twitterredditpinterestlinkedintwitterredditpinterestlinkedin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *