Luckily there were still the last few tickets on sale for their matinee performance of the play "Antigone" by Sophocles in a new version by Don Taylor.
The skills of the National Theatre players are so impressive.
They can teach us all who have to make business presentations as well.
To hold an audience's attention on a lazy Sunday afternoon straight from the start is a challenge.
The staging of this production of Antigone was done in modern dress. There were no obvious costumes and props for King Creon e.g. no crown or robes- but in this production, the actor Christopher Eccleston, was dressed in an ordinary suit and tie - occasionally with his jacket off.
|National Theatre , London|
Yet he became ( for me he was) the powerful king through his masterful use of mannerism , body language and voice.
I was seated in the very back row of the 1000+ seater Olivier theatre but could both hear and see clearly the performance.
Seeing Creon played in a contemporary suit ,Mr Eccleston got me thinking how powerful a skilled presenter can look in standard business attire.
Clearly the skills of an ator are developed over many years of apprenticeship and hard work. Part of the acting craft includes of course getting feedback and taking direction from theatre coaches and performance directors - in this case of this staging of Antigone from Director Polly Findlay.
In business presenting we don't have the time to go through the years of learning that professional actors undertake, but there are ways to observe and work on our mannerisms and body language in our business presentations.
For all we know Burns' lack of concentration might have been switched off by the mannerisms of the minister preaching.
|View of St Paul's Cathedral from |
a balcony at the National theatre, South bank, London
We must look confident as King Creon - even if hopefully we make better political decisions than Creon!
VIDEO Recording your presentations
If you notice any mannerisms which you would prefer to avoid, you will be surprised how easy it is to eradicate them when you work at it.
As Mr. Eccleston played King Creon I realised that his performance was built on the Posture, Stance, Hands and Eye contact of his court.
So it is for a business presenter where the court you hold is your audience.
This does not mean that you must stand nailed to one spot throughout the presentation, but it does mean that when you do move, it must be a definite movement which looks to have been made for a purpose. Develop a stately stance of a powerful king.
Aim therefore to find a solution which is comfortable for you yet which does not distract the audience or convey unfavourable non-verbal messages.
Most audiences' reaction to this is that it could be interpreted as casual, sloppy or even arrogant.
For this reason unless your presentation is very informal or you know your audience very well, try to avoid putting your hands in your pockets.
|Forecourt to the National Theatre |
with its giant lounge furniture ( chair, sofa and lamp stand)
· fiddling with jewellery, pens or anything else which may come to hand
For this reason they will often use a multitude of visual aids, such as PowerPoint slides. The more detailed they are the better. This gives the presenter a great excuse for looking at the screen rather than at the audience.
Learn to match your facial expression to the message you wish to convey and work at speaking not only with your mouth but with all of your facial muscles.
Above all, smile!
Most people have a pleasant gentle smile around their lips in normal conversation, but in so many cases this disappears and is replaced by an iron mask when making a presentation.
Don't be fooled into thinking that because you smile you will be thought to be less serious about your subject. What you will be doing is looking more natural, more approachable and warmer than if you appear grim faced.
This may seem a small point, but it is a vitally important ingredient of the message which your body language conveys.
As as Robert Burns observed
Sophocles would no doubt have agreed with Burns.
Antigone is playing now at the Olivier Theatre June 18,19,20 and July 3,4,18,19,20 and finishes July 21st 2012
National Theatre Box Office