Step Two – Body Language Is Organized Behavior.
By Eric Stone
Context and Premise: Without intending to turn public speakers into actors or performers, the validity and power of acting skills can be demonstrated time and time again within my coaching and directing experience. A good speaker is a good performer no question about it! Performance skills, adjusted and appropriate to content delivered, are what make him or her attractive to watch and riveting to listen to.
Further distinguishing of the public realm. Why is the public realm distinct from other realms? Often, we are so busy focusing on the details or content of our lives, that we miss the larger context and what actually grants us our everyday behaviors and results. Human beings learn behavior patterns through conditioning and mimicking under the powerful influence of various cultural and social milieus. Society, family, community, education, economic background and so forth, act as powerful conditioning systems which we rely on to survive and thrive. We obey the rules after we have integrated them into our consciousness through process.
Much of our body language is organized behavior. The source of human behavior is widely believed to be found in circumstances. The well-known Russian director, Konstantin Stanislavski, original creator of Method Acting, said that the “truth in our lives is the truth of our circumstances.” Few human beings have lived or operated outside of time and circumstances, though a few come to mind. We all go through circumstances in life, at home or at work. There are emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual circumstances. Falling in love is a circumstance, so is puberty, our first job, graduation, marriage, sickness, raising a child on your own, etc…Pretty much everything we do is conditioned by a larger context made up of circumstances, which acts as powerful yet invisible conditioner.
Speaking in public is a circumstance. It is a conditioned experience. It has all the physical, emotional and psychological elements mentioned above. Given that we organize our behavior as a function of the milieu we are in, it becomes key to understand how it shapes our behavior and why. My overall demeanor and behavior at a bar or at a party, is different than at work or at home. Seldom do we realize that it is the milieu that controls our behavior patterns, not the behavior itself. Hence, if you change the belief in your circumstances, you will change the behavior! That is what we, actors, have to become really good at. I call this process the “as ifs” of our lives. Role-playing, so important to personal development, is sourced in these “as if” techniques. As if I was Superman, as if there was a monster coming after me, as if I could fly, etc. The power is in the as if, not just the choice. Try these on: as if love will last forever, as if nothing can stop me, as if things are not quite a they used to be, as if I could try harder, etc. We constantly visualize ourselves in a circumstance, real or imagined.
The public realm has different rules of conduct, as do all the various contexts we find ourselves in. The public realm is not social, personal nor intimate or political as a “realm.” Being watched is a circumstance, hence the formidable power an audience can have on a speaker or communicator. The minute you are aware of the circumstance at play, you begin to relax and surrender to it. Our action path is directly connected to it. From that vantage point, you can begin to modify your behavior and that of your audience.
In the public speaking realm, the speaker is the star of the show. He or she is the center, the pièce de resistance, the highlight, and the #1 active ingredient in the formula. Not everyone is prepared for that kind of attention on oneself. It is a function of the realm not a personal decision. If you are the focus of attention, it carries a certain expectation, accountability and responsibility. You are holding the fort. It is the “as if” at play. We look up to you. We want you to succeed. We root for you, but only after you have demonstrated to us that you are in charge of yourself, the room, us (the audience), and of course your brilliant content.
If you need coaching or know someone who could benefit from honing these skills or if you wish to comment, feel free to contact me on my cell at (818) 486-3395 or go to my contact page by clicking Here!
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