How is Leadership and Public Speaking like acting and theatre?

Recently, I interviewed Tara Tate about her background, and about what it takes to run a theatre company, and how acting is like leadership and public speaking! Here is what I learnt: 

1. There is no leader on stage during a play 

This was an interesting thing to discover!  

you like going to watch live musicals, or theatre, which I love to do, obviously there is just a flow of movement, rapport, energy and general connection between the actors! They are just in flow and work together beautifully. They don’t have a leader, they are out there on their own, doing their thing. No leader at all.  

And, it works … 

In leadership speak – if you wanted to put a negative spin on this, you would say that the risk for failure is huge, not having a leader. To reframe it would be to say that a good leader sets their team up for success even when they are not there. And, of course, Tara did mention that it is all about the preparation and the rehearsal work that sets the production up for success. In the leadership world, it is exactly the same, as it is in public speaking: the more prepared you are, the better you will perform! 

2. Knocking down the fourth wall 

In 15 years of public speaking, I have never heard the concept of the fourth wall (on the podcast, Tara called it the third wall … she wanted me to mention that it is definitely the fourth wall).  

The fourth wall is the invisible wall between the actors and the audience, and if you break that wall down, it means that, even though you are acting, you really bring the audience into the play, and make them more part of the play, and of the process. 

What a concept – in public speaking, there is no other way to do it, other than to bring down the fourth wall. I say in the podcast that ‘when you are making a point, you eyeball one audience member”, and everyone gets it, and thinks you are talking to them. This is the concept of being present, as a speaker. And, it is the same as a leader – bring down your fourth wall (of armour and safety and vulnerability) and let the other person in …  

3. Acting is a passion … so is leading and public speaking 

Tara mentioned in the podcast that she would love to be able to pay actors for their work – and the sad statistic (which I didn’t know) is that 95% of actors are out of work currently … 

They do it for the love, for the passion that they have for acting, and for making a difference. They are living ‘on purpose’, which is just amazing to see, and you can fee that come through in plays and in theatre.  

Leaders (in general terms) are passionate about what they do … they might get their priorities wrong at times (with their priority being the business, rather than the people and their team), but they generally care enough to put their heart and soul into their work. 

Public speakers, and those who can grab our attention, speak with a passion that is palpable. They are energetic, engaging and entertaining … a bit like actors!!! The difference is that speakers get paid to be there. I wonder how many speakers would do that work, if they weren’t getting paid … maybe some… 

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About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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