Bringing the Script to Life: Rehearsal Tips for Actors

Bringing the Script to Life: Rehearsal Tips for Actors

Mastering the Art of Authentic Performance

As a former professional actor, I’ve had my fair share of questions about the acting craft. The most common one? “How do you memorize all those lines?” But the tougher question, in my opinion, is “How do you make a script sound natural and authentic, performance after performance?”

Making a script sound like your own thoughts and words in the moment is a challenge for both actors and salespeople. But at least us actors have the advantage of learning techniques for taking the words off the page and bringing them to life. Sellers, on the other hand, are often handed a sales script, instructed to memorize it or just read it on camera or using notes or a teleprompter app – without any professional guidance. It’s like handing the lead role to an untrained actor. It’s not fair to the actor, and it’s an instant turn-off for any audience.

No wonder many salespeople feel as uncomfortable as if they’ve been asked to recite Shakespeare for the first time. And with the advent of teleprompter apps, many sellers don’t realize they’re making a common rookie mistake. In fact, many sellers dislike working with sales scripts so much they end up chucking them entirely. While improvising works for some, for others, their delivery can be vague and wildly inconsistent.

So, what’s a performer-turned-salesperson to do? Well, I’m going to share some techniques that actors use to memorize and deliver a sales script in an authentic and natural way that showcases your own unique personality. Get ready to bring that script to life!

Step 1: Don’t Jump to Memorization

The first thing most sellers do when presented with a script is jump straight to memorization. Improper and immediate memorization is one of the primary reasons sellers end up sounding canned and insincere. A professional actor will read through a script several times before attempting to memorize it, allowing thoughts, ideas, and questions to develop naturally as they familiarize themselves with the content.

The key is to get the big picture of the script first and let memorization be a natural byproduct of that familiarity. Think of it like cooking a five-course meal – you wouldn’t just start mixing ingredients without a plan, would you? No, you’d read through the recipes, understand the flavors and techniques, and then let the memorization of the steps come naturally as you prepare each dish.

Step 2: Know Your Subtext

While you’re getting familiar with your script, focus on the meaning of each line – what’s behind the words you’re using? In other words, what are you really saying and why? This is often called your “intention” in acting, and intentions can be quite powerful in sales too.

Are you trying to get them excited about this feature? Motivate them to change vendors? Surprise them with industry findings? Just make sure you know what you are saying and why. And, spoiler alert, the answer is not “because it’s in the script.”

Step 3: Don’t Pre-Determine How to Say It

I know there are some sales coaches or consultants out there who will tell you precisely what words to emphasize, where to pause or smile or gesture. I beg of you, don’t do it! This advice produces some simply awful amateur acting and reinforces a mechanical delivery that is tough to break.

If you watched a great actor do the same scene night after night, chances are she would not deliver her lines exactly the same way every time. Each night is different because each audience is different. Same goes for sales. Stay closely connected to the intention of what you’re saying, respond to verbal and nonverbal cues from your prospect, and let each new emotion in the moment express itself in your words. That will keep your delivery fresh and exciting.

Step 4: Rehearse Properly

It’s a common misconception that over-rehearsing a script will cause you to sound phony or canned – when, in fact, the opposite is true. Knowing your lines well enough so that you don’t have to struggle for the words or meaning frees you up to place your energy on delivering your message in an impactful and persuasive manner while adjusting to your audience.

When it’s done right, a sales script should sound and feel natural and fresh each time. If you want to effectively engage and move your prospects to take action, don’t leave it to chance. You can bring even the dullest of business scripts to life by applying these acting tips.

Step 5: Ditch the Teleprompter (or App)

Actors don’t have their script on their set, whether they’re filming a 30-second commercial or a two-hour movie. And if they do work with a script, as in some industrial films, they invest time and money in training and practicing unique teleprompter reading skills.

Unless you commit to the rigorous training and practice that reading from a script without being caught requires, you’re better off doing an imperfect read without a teleprompter or reading from a script than a word-perfect read with one. When it’s done right, a sales script should sound and feel natural and fresh each time.

Bringing It All Together

If you want to effectively engage and move your prospects to take action, don’t leave it to chance. You can bring even the dullest of business scripts to life by applying these acting tips when you get a sales script.

The Musical Theater Center is dedicated to helping performers of all levels hone their craft, from aspiring actors to seasoned professionals. Whether you’re looking to sharpen your sales presentation skills or dive deeper into the world of musical theater, we’ve got a class or workshop that can help you bring the script to life.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to put on your performer’s hat and show your prospects the magic of authentic, natural delivery. Break a leg!

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