Lights, Cameras, …Actions can speak so much louder than words
“You are off to do an acting course? Did you know Robert DeNiro is on this flight, let me see if he will sign your book”…
And so began the first step of my vacational learning experience, that included acting and painting classes and a commitment to share ideas with a new person for each day I was in New York City. So in preparation for my acting classes based on the renowned Sanford Meisner technique, I am reading his book whilst sharing a flight with one of the greatest actors of our time and a kind flight attendant returns with both a signature and inspirational message from Mr De Niro.
My goal, unlike Mr De Niro, was not to be treading the boards on Broadway or star in a movie coming to a cinema near you anytime soon, but to learn some techniques to enhance my communication skills. While I think I am a pretty active listener, I believed that there was value in honing my communication skills further on the journey to becoming a more authentic, compelling communicator.
There is a common perception that acting is about YOU taking center stage and learning to become someone else, and yet what my classmates and I found was that learning to focus on the other person takes the emphasis off you which ultimately makes you more relaxed and authentic.
The course included repetition exercises to help focus on the words and emotions of your partner. A “door” technique to develop acute listening and sensing of emotions via participating in an active dialogue while also undertaking an intricate task.
Creative storytelling to bring to life the power of movement, expression, and emotion; and sessions on voice and movement to understand the powerful role of words and actions to tell a compelling story that draws in your audience.
Each session had individual, partner or group activities and my fellow classmates were from Canada, USA, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Belarus. This diversity brought different perspectives and helped create an incredibly supportive, honest and fun environment. Whether it was being there for each other by sharing stories, celebrating our achievements, or, on the odd occasion, blowing our lines together, we developed an amazing camaraderie which enabled us to learn and be inspired by each other, forming a bond that connects us today.
For me personally, I would like to think that I have become a better listener, something my wife Angie and friends old and new have positively commented on since we returned. But the most powerful lesson I took away was that authentic communication is often found in the silence, in the ability to focus on the other person and let our actions speak just as loudly as our words.
Next week: Every picture tells a story.