HR professionals use a lot of acting terms in the workplace. They talk about ‘character’ references, ‘performance’ reviews and someone’s ‘role’ at work.

Companies also have ‘audiences’ to target and serve.  The skills required to act and to present and sell effectively often overlap, and modern employers are looking to the acting profession to help give their staff a competitive edge.

Some HR managers are suspicious of using actors in corporate training, after all they ‘want real staff in real situations’.

However, the L&D professionals who have incorporated the technical training given to actors as a means of improving soft skills, and those who deploy professional actors in their corporate role-play training claim that the benefits are huge.

‘Acting skills’ improve natural behaviour, confidence and delivery
There can be a perception that ‘acting techniques’ would encourage employees to behave in an ‘unnatural’ way.  In fact, the opposite is true.

Using a professional actor helps learners to make the most of their voice and their body language, rather than “pretending’ to be someone they are not.

When it comes to giving a presentation or public speaking training, for example, you want your employees to deliver an engaging speech and meet the organisation’s objectives as well as their own.  In order to achieve this effectively, employees need to appear confident and stress-free, and deliver their message in an empowering and effective manner.  Soft skills training can deliver this.

Ian Shreeve L and D professional at Argos said

“I’ve used actors in the past and have had reservations about just how effective some of the interventions have been. I have to say I had none of those reservations with the guys from DTS. They were fabulous! What I think really worked was the idea of getting delegates to express their emotions before they even realised they were in a learning situation, which created real and genuine situations for people to learn from. “

Learning to deliver a presentation
Any employee making a presentation at work, whether to customers or in front of the board faces the same challenges as an actor on stage.  When watching a presentation, the audience naturally judges the employee before they have even opened their mouth – and when they begin to speak, the audience will critique every word they say and move they make.

In order to engage the audience, the employee only has their voice and body language to connect with those watching and listening – and at the same time, they may be nervous or worry about forgetting their words.

Actors are no different – however, they have learned techniques which help them overcome this by using their voice or changing their tone to communicate in different ways in order to connect with the audience and get their message across – a skill that would be very desirable in a sales presentation.

Actors are also trained in body language – they know that their body language gives away their feelings, and can consciously change it in order to truly engage with the people listening to them. Simply breathing in a different way will improve someone’s presentation because they will feel calmer and be and look more confident.

These techniques can be harnessed in the workplace to deliver better results.

Actors train for years to use their body and voice effectively. They are aware of their body language and their voice tone and articulation. They also breathe differently to banish ‘stage fright’ and have mastered memory techniques to banish fears that they will fluff their lines. These sorts of skills can help when training in subjects like sales, negotiation, challenging conversations and presentation skills to name just a few.