Public Speaking – Is It Acting?

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Having read Jane Andrew’s article entitled Public Speaking is Acting, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you why the best public speakers are not acting: they are communicating.


Acting requires memorization of a script that has been marked by the actor; i.e., pause here, smile there, increase your volume, etc. In teaching public speaking, I emphasize not marking the script because I don’t want a rote delivery.

The beauty of public speaking is that your audience often determines how your material will flow; and, good public speakers know how to work with good audiences. Anecdotes or jokes may be added on the spur if the audience is highly receptive; whereas, if the audience is unresponsive, many speakers will drop some material and move in a different direction.

In that respect, good public speakers are thinking throughout their entire delivery because they are communicating. They are not trying to be someone other than themselves. They understand and value their own individuality. And, they talk to their audience just as if they were having a conversation in their living room.

Actors, on the other hand, are portraying a character other than themselves with material that is memorized. Whether their audience is laughing, smiling, or hissing, their lines will not change.

My advice?

1. Never mark your script and forget the smiley faces. While I advocate smiling during a presentation, I want you to smile because of the moment. Let it come naturally.

2. Do not memorize your presentation. Should you forget where you are, you are lost.

3. Do not read your presentation. You’re not at Barnes and Noble giving a reading. Your audience came to hear you speak to them, not read.

4. Practice your presentation OUT LOUD in the days before you are scheduled to speak so that you know, and are comfortable with, your material.

Actors are on stage for the purpose of entertaining an audience; and, while it is hopeful that good presentations are entertaining, the focus of public speaking should always be communication. The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels provides private, group and corporate training throughout the United States and Canada as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement and presentation skills. Visit her website at: For more information on Public Speaking, click the following link to gain special access to watch Nancy’s 8 minute video presentation at:

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