If I Am An Actor, Why Am I Here?

Sections of this topic

    “I y’am what I y’am, what I y’am.”

    Now, I am an actor, a speaker, and a trainer–as well as a writer. When I act, I act. When I speak, I speak. When I train, that’s different, too. As I said earlier in my previous blog, acting is more than “being someone else” or “a scripted performance.” Keep in mind that there is a huge difference between those actors on film and those on stage–so don’t give me the unprepared actors’ speeches at the Academy awards routine.

    Here’s something to think about: I use acting coaching methods to help speakers and trainers to better know how to interact with their audience.

    While some people believe actors need a script to act, the best do not. There is a lot more to acting than some people think. Some actors can make it look so natural. Actors do interact with their audience (not always directly) and they damn well better be aware how they are affecting them.

    Actors need to be sincere and real in their delivery as well; if they are not, believe me, they will get told by me as a performance critic that they are not doing their jobs. So it goes for anyone who is communicating with an audience. Trainers and public speakers come to mind.

    There were some great comments and, unfortunately, some not so well-informed ones made in response to the LinkedIn question on actors and speaker differences that prompted the blog above. The very fact I come from an acting background and used “Acting Smarts” as the title of my company and blog may have made some “business professionals” think I teach only acting.

    Jack Shaw and Joy Blatherwick in PLAY ON! at Haddonfield Plays and Players. Photo by David Gold

    I teach communication. I don’t make a speaker become someone else to deliver a message; I help that person use who they are–the best of who they are–to present his or her message. The ability to act only makes me more comfortable at connecting with my audience in a personal way.

    We, actors, often reach deep inside and willing to share those truths. But the same can be said of many people and many professions, yes? It just happens to work for me and entertain as well.

    We all need a reality check once in a while (trainers, too) and I’ve kind of made that my job in a few areas. I call it Shaw’s Reality. Check out my best-seller based on posts here, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development, and my futuristic novel, In Makr’s Shadow, talks of a time when people no longer may communicate freely and socializing without being vetted and matched is a capital offense.)

    By the way, my background includes a masters in social psychology as well as an interdisciplinary dual masters in English and Speech/Drama with an emphasis in performance criticism. As for practical application, I have 30+ years in government and the military (my “day” job) as a spokesperson, trainer and writer, and continued to freelance as an actor whenever possible.

    Actors are not only actors, speakers not only speakers, and trainers not only trainers, but a polygamous marriage and more; each are communicators in his or her own rights, and the best of us do whatever it takes and learn whatever we can to get the job done.

    This makes me think of a great follow-up: What makes a great trainer? What is the difference between a public speaker and a trainer? A speech or training session? Next time. I invite your comments and questions. And, if you are looking for someone to communicate to an audience any of these things, please let me know. Happy training.

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.