I recently heard from my friend Carol Andrew, a fellow Dorset girl – from the same small region of England as I am! Not only do we both live in the United States now, but we are also both National Speakers Association members, both speakers, and both speech coaches. Unlike me, Carol studied at London’s Royal Ballet School! If you are familiar with my work, you already know that I encourage speakers to adopt useful strategies from the world of performers. I share this article from Carol, explaining the elements common to both public speaking and ballet. Read her helpful tips for speakers and enjoy!
Speakers and Dancers . . . Surprisingly Similar
by Carol Andrew
Passion, connection, presence, artistry, discipline, technique, freedom of body movement, moving on purpose, rehearsal.
Each of these elements is common to both public speaking and ballet. I bet you never imagined two such seemingly disparate forms of presenting to an audience could have so much in common. You’re probably thinking “But dancers don’t even speak.” In reality, the entire body of a dancer speaks to an audience and his choreographer speaks through the bodies of her dancers. I’m a public speaking coach and trainer with an extensive background in ballet, imported from London’s Royal Ballet in the UK to the USA years ago to teach ballet. I am blessed to incorporate my many years of ballet teaching experience, and theatre training and experience into my speaking coaching and presenting.
Non verbal communication can be as much as 95% of your communication to an audience, just as it does to your family, friends, co-workers, the boss, your customers etc. yes, to everyone. Your non verbal communication is the expression of your style. In communication, 55% is body language alone; when you add vocal inflection and tone, it goes up to 95%. Surprising isn’t it?
But think a moment about some of the political figures we see in the media. Regardless of your political leanings don’t you find yourself assessing the truth of what they’re saying by how they look and move? Does their body language truthfully match what they’re saying? When it really doesn’t, you sense that something is not right.
Warm ups – if a dancer doesn’t warm up before performance she could break her ankle falling off pointe.
If a speaker doesn’t warm up his voice before presenting, his voice could sound like it is breaking. His vocal range, pitch, and volume or quietude will not be fully available.
Tip: Even singing la la la la up and down the scale can do the trick . . . don’t worry, no one is listening. This you can even do while driving to your venue! Let your jaw relax and “sing” fully! Singing along with the radio and laughing are excellent too.
Your body needs to be warmed up (I like to think oiled up) so all moving parts will flow smoothly.
Tip: Before a presentation light exercise and steady expansive breathing are of huge benefit.
Doing both of the above will naturally support and help center your posture: another essential similarity between dancers and speakers.
Tip: Before you even open your mouth to speak walk with purpose/intention to your “spot” on the stage or floor. Claim your “spot” by standing with your weight even on both feet, smile and connect with your audience.
TIP: For purposeful posture and presence, try this little trick: standing with your weight evenly on both feet, imagine you are compressing the air space between the crown of your head and the ceiling . . . shoulders drop to natural relaxed position, and often you will feel you abs muscles engage to support your torso.
I liken our bodies to the instrument through which we present. Speakers who can communicate their true passion from their heart always engage and inspire audiences most effectively, and most memorably. You want your audience to remember you and your message, I have no doubt. But just like any instrument, the body needs to be in tune and tone before “performance.”
About Carol Andrew
From early childhood Carol trained in England becoming an advanced dancer with Royal Academy of Dancing by age 16. She progressed to London’s Royal Ballet School, earned certification to teach all ballet grade levels through advanced, and graduated from the School’s elite 3 year intensive Teacher Training. While at the Royal Ballet, she studied and worked with dance legends Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev. She taught at Elmhurst School for Dance, the oldest vocational classical ballet school in the United Kingdom.
The National Academy of Arts at the University Illinois “imported” her to the US to teach ballet, and she has taught ballet in South Florida for several of years.
She is a professionally trained actor, degreed in Theatre from Florida State University. She has several decades of teaching, acting, directing and public speaking experience. “My love of the performing arts and my speaking skills blended together shining a light to open the door to public speaking and coaching.” For more information visit: www.CarolPAndrew.com
Thank you Carol!
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