“What do you get for free?”
This was the question that Bill Irwin, actor, clown and MacArthur ‘Genius award’ winner asked a small group of student clowns at San Francisco’s world-renowned Circus Center. They looked puzzled. He went on to explain that performers are always trying to be someone else, a character, a different version of who they are. But what do you get when you walk into the room …and don’t ‘try’ to do anything.
What impression do you make without even trying? Do you even know? You may know what impression you would like to make, but is it being made?
I heard Jim Lehrer make this observation about presidential candidates running for election.
“Candidates who don’t pay attention to what they look like or their body language as well as their spoken language – are making a terrible mistake.”
-Jim Lehrer. Via The Daily show with John Stewart. (Jim was promoting his book, Tension City)
These two ideas are connected by one question: Are you aware of …or in control of….the impression you make when you show up?
It’s all about self-awareness, knowing how others see you, the impression you make in the world when you are relaxed. This may be very different from how you feel or what you think your impression may be.
Body language is as important (or more so) than spoken language. This is about the impression your body makes before you speak and it’s the message your body sends in relationship to your spoken words.
In my work with leaders and professional entertainers I help them communicate more effectively. I work to help them understand what they’re tying to say and how they are being perceived.
- You can’t begin to communicate with other people effectively until you understand who you are. If you are uncomfortable with yourself others can sense it. If you are uncomfortable being looked at, an audience can sense that as well. Finding a way to understand who you are (without effort) is critical to successful communication.
- Humans are primarily visual….it’s an evolutionary development. When you communicate with others, craft not only the verbal message but also the visual one.
William Hall is an actor, trainer and improviser living in San Francisco, CA. He works with companies to engage and involve audiences at Trade Shows, Conferences and Training Sessions. He is a founder of BATS Improv and the author of The Playbook: Improv Games for Performers.